If you have not seen this episode yet and do not wish to be spoiled, do not continue reading!
For a full episode synopsis, grab a read of our Daredevil #2.1: “Bang” episode guide.
What you’ll hear from a number of quarters is that Marvel’s Daredevil starts out slow in its second season before picking up in whizbang fashion.
One can look at the first episode of this new slate sign it off as slow, perhaps even a little plodding. What I see is something far more methodical, fitting right in with the measured pace of through most of the first season. In fact, if there is something to really enjoy about this premiere, it’s that it has no time for worrying about catching anyone up on what took place last year. If you’re new to the series, there’s no real period of adjustment. This is the world that exists with a man in horned costume doling out justice and having taken down the biggest crimelord of this particular enclave of New York City.
Much in the same fashion that Netflix is less concerned with the withholding model of television in an effort to maximize viewership for advertisers over an extended period of time, the series is well aware that, if you hadn’t seen the first season, it’s right there to watch and catch up before climbing in. Just as their production and release model lends series more of a segmented movie feel, this approach also better reinforces the idea that this is one continuous story that, so far, has 26 chapters to it. For those who lament serialized storytelling, it might prove an annoying burden. For those of us who love the idea of just telling a story in long form, it’s a welcome treat.
Foggy has become far more accepting of Matt’s alternate life, which has taken on a bit of an infamous quality of its own around Hell’s Kitchen. The neighborhood’s name couldn’t be more appropriate now as the city is experiencing a length heat wave. Crime, of course, has a tendency to spike during such times, and Matt finds himself going out night after night because he feels someone could truly get hurt if he doesn’t. Though Foggy rightly worries about what could happen to him physically, as well as if someone found out it was Matthew Murdock, Attorney at Law, behind the mask, Matt doesn’t feel necessarily burdened by his charge. There’s an innate weariness that persists, the kind that drew him to down a mask in the first place, but Daredevil feels as much a part of him as anything else in his life.
The work between Charlie Cox and Elden Hensen continues to shine, as you really believe this is a relationship born of years of knowing one another, as well as now having all secrets open. More important, there is a genuine care between them that helps to ground Matt and the series. That’s shared with the third leg in Karen Page, and when the three run through their office routine and then later unwind by shooting pool at Josie’s bar, it’s a display of the kind of camaraderie that seems to get lost in many shows these days as they work to manufacture drama. The innate flirting between Karen and Matt as she “helps” him take shots on the table feels real and especially sexy. Yes, there is a familial aspect to these three as they navigate the trenches together, but it’s clear there is that oh-so-good kind of tension between Matt and Karen that feels just as natural a part of the series. Cox and Deborah Ann Woll continue to dance well together on-screen.
It’s not long before the three are thrust in over their heads. They’re already struggling to make due with the expenses, taking on hard luck cases to help the citizens of the Kitchen, who frequently pay them in goods that aren’t money. A guy named Grotto stumbles their way because, as much as the Devil is credited with taking down the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk, the law firm of Nelson & Murdock has garnered a similar reputation for going up against him. Grotto has barely escaped the meeting of Irish heritage mobsters that turned into a massacre when a seeming army laid into them. It’s not the first such attack, as just the previous week a biker gang called the Dogs of Hell was attacked in similar fashion. Daredevil goes after a Mexican cartel who might be behind the hits, but finds out they were hit as well. Not by an army, though, but by one man.
That man goes after Grotto in the hospital, where Karen is keeping watch over him, forcing Daredevil to confront him. The episode is called “Bang,” and this is it: the meeting of the Devil and the Punisher. The fight is gruesome but rather quick, which seems fitting for the show. This was a series less concerned about the flashiness of its fights than it was the impact and viciousness, and this fight feels of a set. It also wastes little time in pitting our two known Marvel biggies against one another, which exemplifies the theme on the season.
There isn’t much to see of Jon Bernthal’s performance as Frank Castle in this first frame, but what we see works well. The guy is a terminator, singularly focused on eliminating the criminal element in Hell’s Kitchen with every manner of weapon he can muster. He has but the one line, a signal to say that the Devil’s time is up as he shoots the horned one off the roof. That there isn’t extended, flashy build-up to the two meeting is perfect in tone and feel for the series. After all, no one expected that wallop of a highway fight scene last year, and here this feels like just as natural of an occurrence.
The premiere hour proves just as solid, sharp, grounded, and engaging as the first season. Looking forward to what this battle of wills could bring us.