Thursday, December 22, 2016

It Wouldn't Be Daredevil If Things Didn't Go To Hell

I finished Daredevil season 2. Spoilers follow if that even matters at this point. The ninjas showed up pretty much right after I posted those comments last week. Nelson & Murdock (and Page) fell apart right around then, too. I tended to sympathize with Foggy a lot, since he hadn't even wanted to take on defending Frank Castle, Matt and Karen talked him into it, and then Matt promptly dropped out of sight, leaving Foggy holding the bag.

The stuff I enjoyed most was the part with the Punisher (Jon Bernthal) in prison. The fight between him and all of Dutton's soldiers for one, but especially his interactions with Wilson Fisk (Vincent D'Onofrio). D'Onofrio is out there chewing scenery, giving all these raspy-voiced speeches about "the law of nature" or whatever, and Bernthal just looks bored and impatient. It's all bullshit, he knows it, the audience knows it. We know Fisk is trying to use Frank to his own purposes, and so does Frank. And Fisk knows Frank knows, but he also understands Frank well enough to know it doesn't matter. Frank can't pass up the chance to get a shot at yet another person involved in the death of his family, who might have leads to still others.

Bernthal did well as Frank Castle. Ennis' aged, grim engine of destruction has taken firm root in my brain, but this is a Frank just starting out. I don't think he's reached the point where it goes beyond simply getting the people who killed his family until right at the end. The point when he burns his home down, burying that man and his life, that's probably the point when he really becomes The Punisher. The pain and the fury is a lot closer to the surface.

I was excited when Stick started talking about the Hand wanting to unleash something truly horrible. I envisioned some awful creature inside that giant urn, and the idea of Daredevil fighting a monster or demon sounded pretty appealing. Actually, when he and Elektra found that deep hole, I thought all right, let's have them fight the Mole Man. I knew that wasn't happening, but it was nice to dream for a moment.

Seeing Elektra (Elodie Yung) as a sort of free-wheeling, fun-loving type was a little odd. It made sense with the idea she and Matt met when they were younger and less obsessed, I guess I'm just used to seeing her as basically humorless. Yung did pretty well, there's a sense of someone who got a lot of mixed messages as a kid, and at some point said screw it, she's make her own choices. She and Charlie Cox had decent chemistry, nothing spectacular, but the characters situation is such a mess that might be appropriate. There's one scene where they're sitting together on Matt's couch, and she says she's the one who understands him. Up to that point, the camera was shooting them together in the scene, but after that, as Matt leans forward and away, the camera only shows one of them at a time for the remainder of the scene. Her insistence that he is like her, is how she thinks he is, which is counter to everything he believes about himself, drives the wedge between them. That was solid.

Stick's a lousy parent, poor planner, too. If the people Matt found being bled were important to the Hand, and Stick's supposedly fighting them, why didn't he show up to prevent their being taken back? Shouldn't he have his ear to the ground for such developments, looking for opportunities? If Elektra is leaving the country, why try to kill her? Either ask he nicely to stay, be honest with her, or let her go. Don't turn her into an enemy. But he and Matt both make some poor choices with regards to keeping secrets.

When Clancy Brown showed up as Frank's old commander, I thought that was a relatively benign role to bring Clancy Brown in for. Ha, I was more right than I knew, but I have to get one right every once in awhile.

Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) and Foggy's (Elden Henson) progressions were kind of interesting. Foggy, obviously, came into his own in terms of gaining confidence in himself. He's always had the ability to prepare, and the knowledge, but he needed Matt to sell it to a jury or a client. Now maybe he doesn't, which raises the question of whether he and Matt will remain friends. Foggy seemed to have a much lower tolerance for Matt's shit as he became less reliant on him.

As for Karen, this shift of her to becoming a reporter, a columnist was not something I expected. I can sort of see it, given her own experiences with people trying to frame her for murder, with Matt and Foggy fighting for her and others like her, and her helping them. Finding the truth, not letting people in power cover it up for their benefit, it would fit. Especially after she admitted to Matt how uncomfortable she was with some of the contortions the truth takes in the justice system, the way lawyers bend it. I'm not sure what all her time close to Frank will do. She seemed to think if she helped him find answers, Frank would stop killing, and she was very wrong. The truth she found was unpleasant to her, and while I think she will still pursue it, I'm not sure how it'll change her perspective on things going forward.

It was hard to look at the season as anything other than Matt failing on basically every level. He let his friends down on the Castle case, he didn't stop Castle. He was able to get through to Elektra, I guess, but ultimately wasn't able to keep her out of the Hand's clutches. Fisk is rebuilding his power from within prison. Matt seems to be continuing to ruin Claire's (Rosario Dawson) life by getting her involved in his problems. The moment when he decides to just hurl Nobu off a damn roof seemed significant, in light of his attempts to not kill people, and stop Frank from doing so. But maybe he figured the Hand had already died, so it doesn't count (or he was sticking to his, 'just this once' idea he pitched to Frank). He didn't object to Frank unleashing a torrent of headshots. I assume he's going to try and pick up the pieces of his practice and friendships, but he's going to have to deal with the knowledge he was ready to chuck it all in a trash can - including being Daredevil - to go run around the world with Elektra.

On the whole, there were some parts I liked, other parts (mostly involving the Hand) I didn't care for. I didn't like it as much as Luke Cage overall, but I also didn't think it was as thin in places as Luke Cage. There were enough plates in the air I didn't feel as much padding. Some of the fight scenes were pretty good, others less so. Matt fighting his way down the building full of angry bikers; Frank against all those guys in the prison, those were fun. But all the kick-flippy fights with the Hand blur together after awhile. Any one of them on its own was fine, but collectively they all were pretty similar.


B. S. Denton said...

I thought the Punisher take was amazing as a younger Gulf War reboot; excited for the announced series.

CalvinPitt said...

B.S. Denton: It definitely grew on me as a take on Frank as the series progressed. I didn't even remember they were going to do a series for him until about a week ago. I'll have to wait and see on that.