I mean, okay, that's an overstatement, but I've never felt the fawning love for this show that we see in some corners of fandom, especially not in comparison to the other Marvel TV properties -- yes, even Agents of SHIELD, although I accept that one might be more a matter of personal taste. The first season was all right, this second season was all right, but both seasons made choices that actively bothered me, and I'm not convinced that either a third season of this show or bringing the characters forward into The Defenders will confront my questions and concerns to my satisfaction.
Anyway, here are my main issues, under a cut for all the spoilers.
The Punisher. I got the sense that a lot of people were excited about this character, which is fine, but I just don't get it. White dude loses his family and goes on a quest for revenge, stop me if you've heard this one before. What does this character bring us to the table we haven't already seen a million times? The circular nature of vengeance, the morality of killing bad guys vs. just beating them to a bloody pulp (and come on, Matt Murdock, what are the chances that not one person has ever died of injuries you inflicted? I mean, really), the corrupt military officer and the one good man who stands up against him... it's like a cliche stew, whipped up and flavored with a healthy dose of over-the-top violence. I can't be the only person who is bored now.
Elektra. Hoo boy, where do I begin. I am not at all familiar with comics-canon Elektra, but I did some research and it appears that being of dubious ethics is a standard part of her character, as is dying and being resurrected. Having learned that, I'm less grumpy about the handling of her character than I might be otherwise, but I'm still bothered that one of the few named Marvel canon female superheroes -- one played by an actress of color, no less -- is part ultra-violent ninja warrior, part MacGuffin, and dead at the end of her first season. For a kick-ass martial artist, Elektra has relatively little agency: it's revealed toward the end of the season that, like Matt, she's a long-time pupil of Stick, and that both of her associations with Matt, as his college girlfriend and her current return to New York, were attempts to recruit him to Stick's army, both times at Stick's bidding. She's consistently pulled between Matt's agenda and Stick's, and her one try at making her own way away from them ends when Stick sends an assassin after her. In the end, she lets herself be killed, to save Matt's life and to deny The Hand her power as the Black Sky, so I can't quite call it a fridging since she dies by her own choice, but I can't say I love the image of the woman of color sacrificing herself to save the white dude, either.
I also find Elektra and Matt's relationship troublesome, because it's such a backslide in terms of his character development. Didn't Matt just spend the whole first season discovering that he's stronger and better when he has friends and maintains ties with other people? And yet here we are again, with Matt distancing himself from Foggy and Karen -- to the point that the law firm is dissolved and his budding romance with Karen badly damaged if not destroyed -- and ready, by season's end, to chuck it all and travel the world with Elektra, who has already proven herself unwilling to fight without killing.
When I went looking for more on Elektra's canon characterization, I found these two articles, one of which largely agrees with me that the character was mishandled, and another that takes a more positive view; I don't entirely agree with either of these articles, but I found them both interesting.
Matt/Karen. I don't object to this relationship, exactly (although I feel like they really missed an opportunity by not further developing Karen/Foggy), but it really, REALLY bothered me that he hid his identity as Daredevil from her until the final five minutes of the last episode. Not only is he having a relationship with her under false pretenses -- lying to her, hiding a huge important part of his life, never able to make her a priority -- but by dropping that news at the very end, we were denied Karen's reaction to the news (although I suppose we might see it in Season 3, or in The Defenders if that comes out first). I'm glad he finally told her, but it's too little, too late.
Some things I liked. Karen Page, intrepid reporter, and her budding friendship with the editor of the newspaper; Foggy the super-lawyer, and the brief appearance of Jeri Hogarth -- not just for herself, but for the feeling of continuity with Jessica Jones; the return of Claire, and how she refused to play along with the cover-up, and also her interactions with Foggy; and the cameo appearances of Wilson Fisk and Madame Gao. I thought Fisk was particularly well-used, in his role in the Punisher's prison story, and it was a good reminder that he isn't gone for good.
Despite being less than in love with this show, I'm still hoping for a third season. How I feel about Elektra's character could change a great deal in the long run, depending on how her resurrection is handled, and I absolutely want to learn Karen's feelings about Matt being Daredevil. But I'm more eager for Luke Cage (September 30th!), the next season of Jessica Jones, and bringing all these characters together for The Defenders. Daredevil could take the backseat for awhile, and that would be totally fine with me.
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