WHEN | WHERE Second season starts streaming Friday on Netflix
WHAT IT’S ABOUT Blinded as a boy, New York City lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) aka Daredevil has remarkable abilities — he can almost see with his other senses, a skill he uses to considerable effect, often at night, battling the bad guys of Hell’s Kitchen. But a terrible threat is stalking his city — the Punisher, AKA Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal). Matt and his law-firm colleagues Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) and Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) suddenly get an unusual client. Meanwhile, an old friend of Matt’s turns up: Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung).
MY SAY Like the first season, “Daredevil’s” second has the elements of a compelling idea, and the means — specifically Cox’s Matt — to develop them. An avowed Catholic who never forgot his catechism, Matt wants to understand why he is here, but also why his heroic nocturnal jousts have done nothing to erase his guilt. He wants “forgiveness,” he tells his priest, for “not doing more.”
Like some Marvel superheroes, Matt Murdock is more human than super — just another troubled soul looking for salvation. Behind those glasses, and deep inside, you can feel Cox’s Matthew struggling with that eternal question: What more must a good man do, and what does he have to endure while doing it?
But let’s be honest. Fans don’t want Sunday-school lessons and they certainly don’t want a tour of Matt’s tortured soul either. They want moves — and Daredevil still has dope ones — and violence. The more, the better.
The bodies really don’t stop dropping until around the fifth episode, and that’s just for a pause to introduce Elektra. Unknown how many more bodies drop in her wake. The Punisher does most of the damage early on, depopulating Hell’s Kitchen in the process. He’s just one of several copycat vigilantes out there (Jessica Jones, whom you may have heard of, is also busy saving New York). Before long, you start to worry about the well-being of the bad guys — or if there are any left to worry about.
Also before long, you may also start to wonder whether “Daredevil” isn’t only mindlessly violent, but mindless, too. The cast is terrific, production values superlative and direction first-rate. “Daredevil’s” idealized, mythologized New York is gorgeous and gritty. This is a very seductive series.
But is there a functioning brain, or at least a higher purpose, maybe a deeper one? Like Matt’s own search for meaning, good luck finding answers.
BOTTOM LINE Once again, bone-crunching violence, and a compelling hero.