You know you’re one bad day away from being me.
That’s what Frank Castle (aka the Punisher, in a incredible performance by John Bernthal), tells Daredevil. But as he says it, it seems to be not only a commentary on Matt Murdock’s style of vigilantism but an address to all of us. Who among us when hearing of some new act of horror and injustice hasn’t secretly wished that someone would just kill the person(s) responsible for it?!? The whole concept of superhero crime fighters after all is that they’re the ones who can deal out the retribution that the regular justice system can’t deliver. The genius of Netflix’s series Daredevil, now celebrating its second season, is that it’s willing to look at that truth directly – and the darker side to that ethos.
It also serves as the best representation of the Punisher yet to come on screen. In fact it’s arguably Castle’s season as much as Murdock’s. Too often in the past he’s been dismissed as just a random gun toting psycho, (Deadpool without the humor or breaking the 4th Wall), or worse yet celebrated as some emblem of “badassery” we should all emulate. But this version of Frank Castle is both profoundly human and profoundly disturbing, a former war hero and dedicated family man who lost everything in a few moments of random violence. We can see the humanity still within the man, but we are also witnesses to the carnage he dispels as well; going so far as to hang cartel members on meat hooks, while they’re still alive. Castle of course serves as a dark foil to Matt, but his best scenes are usually with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) who can’t help but feel some empathy for him despite her belief in his madness.
While Season One was focused on Daredevil’s war to take down Wilson (The Kingpin) Fisk, Season Two doesn’t really have a main villain as such. It feels more like a set-up to later events in presumably Daredevil Season Three and/or the promised Netflix defender series in terms of plot drive. In terms of theme the season functions as the main build-up for Captain America: Civil War by showcasing how and why the public is becoming increasingly fed up with the whole notion of super powered persons who act as though they’re above the law.
Overall as much as Wilson Fisk is to be missed, the series holds up well in the second season. Besides Bernthal we have Elodie Yung who as Femme Fatale Electra is the Girl We Love to Hate, and the return of some other favorites. Not only does Matt’s personal journey continue but Foggy Nelson and Karen Page each have independent story arcs as well, and the season as a whole is much more fast paced than Season One – though again it feels more like it’s setting the stage in the future than as a complete story in and of itself.
Daredevil can be streamed on Netflix.