ScreenRant.com is saying that a lot of people gave up on Daredevil: Season 3. If you’re one of those viewers, give it another try. I finished this latest season about a week ago, and I have to tell you that after reflecting on it, I think this season is my favorite of all the Netflix Marvel shows.
First of all, the smartest of all the Marvel shows got even smarter. Everyone in this series has actual motivation. The plot unfolds organically and without any abrupt shifts in direction or tone. Almost everything in this season actually makes sense. One event leads to the next, which leads to the next, which leads to the next.
Consequently, the pacing is what actually makes this season my favorite. The Netflix Marvel shows have had disastrous pacing issues–particularly in regards to Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Daredevil: Season 3 moves at a quick pace, and the story keeps developing from episode to episode to episode. Other Marvel series have felt like three or four different story arcs within a single season. Oftentimes they have an out-of-the-blue event occur around episode 7 or 8 that changes everything. Not so with this one. In fact, it’s the first time I didn’t tell myself (regarding a Netflix Marvel show) that thirteen episodes was too long. I wanted more!
I groaned a bit when I heard Bullseye would be the villain of this season because he’s about as cliched a villain as you can get. Fortunately, they grew “Dex” Poindexter into an antagonist only as the show progressed. Getting him to that point was a slow burn. Best of all, they never actually called him “Bullseye.” Dex got more and more interesting as the show moved along in large part due to his mental torment. I won’t spoil it for you, but they were quite creative in displaying this anguish. Poindexter does awful things in this season, yet he is not entirely unlikable. You can’t help but empathize with his plight a bit, especially because he can turn on the charm when he wants to. I felt his frustration at being a hero when his talent for killing was done on behalf of the government, yet, when not working on behalf of his country, he was deemed a criminal.
Of course, I love Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk. He, too, while certainly a villain, is a complicated man who is actually worthy of sympathy from time to time. D’Onofrio plays him with such repression–it’s something to behold. I love that Fisk is constantly flexing his fingers or working his hands. He always seems as though he’s just barely constraining himself. I’ve heard some say that D’Onofrio plays him too over the top, but I think it’s perfect. Fisks merciless intellect always makes him a formidable opponent.
Jay Ali proved a welcome addition to the cast. He played FBI agent Ray Nadeem. Nadeem found himself at the center of everything in this season, and suffered as a result. Ali delivered an average man just trying to do the right thing, and he showed us just how convoluted the “right thing” can be. Nadeem provided a necessary emotional tether to the season that helped me to invest in the entire story as a whole.
Charlie Cox, though, is what makes this season something special. This man is the perfect embodiment of Matt Murdock. I think leaving the costume behind, having Murdock go back to the black shirt and pants really brought this series back to it’s street-level grittiness. Murdock’s crisis of conscience, his battle with this faith, and his obsession with Fisk drove this season forward. Cox benefited from getting to be the star of the show again. He didn’t have to compete with an Electra or a Punisher taking up his screen time. He didn’t have a gang of mystical ninjas to defeat. He just had to outsmart Wilson Fisk, which is awfully hard to do, especially when you’ve got a man throwing items in your direction at terminal velocity. The simplicity of this intricate plot made this season very entertaining. It never got too big, but it never felt small, either.
Is this season perfect? No, it’s not. I think they don’t quite know what to do with Foggy Nelson, and I personally believe that Elden Henson is playing him more and more as a type rather than as a person. Deborah Ann Woll, conversely, has gotten better and better as Karen Page. The only misstep they had with her character involved an entire episode devoted to her background which was completely unneeded. I’m also not a fan of a hero fighting an evil version of himself or herself. If you’ve seen the trailers, you know that Dex himself dons the Daredevil costume. They have a good reason for it that serves the story very well, but it’s still a pet peeve of mine. I guess I should be glad they didn’t put him in the comic book version of the Bullseye costume.
As always, the fight scenes were incredible. These feel like real brawls–everyone looks exhausted by the end of them. There’s a prison fight and a fight in a church that are just flat-out amazing.
Because of Murdock’s complex identity issues regarding his alias, his faith, and even his morals, and because of the well-paced, methodical character development regarding Poindexter, Fisk, and Nadeem, I found this season extremely satisfying. I was hooked on Season 3 by the first episode, but if you gave up on it for some reason, I hope you’ll give it another chance. I think you’ll end up loving it as much as I did.
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