Warning: This contains spoilers – if you haven’t seen episodes one to four, read our spoiler-free review of Daredevil Season 2. If you have seen them, share your spoilery thoughts in the comments below.
With The Punisher unexpectedly behind bars by the end of Episode 4, the plot for the season shifts into an intriguing second phase with the introduction of Elektra (Elodie Yung), Matt’s mysterious former girlfriend. Meanwhile, in a fan-pleasing development, Matt, Foggy and Karen get to do some actual lawyering when they end up having to defend Frank in court.
Episode 4 ended with Elektra showing up in Matt’s apartment, so it comes as no surprise that Episode 5 is largely given over to flashbacks, detailing what appears to be the entirety of their relationship, from their initial, flirtatious meeting at a swanky party Matt and Foggy gate-crashed as students, to a sequence where she tricks Matt by playfully breaking into a house, only for it to turn out that the house belongs to Roscoe Sweeney, the man who killed Matt’s father. Though he succumbs as far as giving Roscoe a savage beating, Matt stops short of killing Sweeney, to Elektra’s evident disappointment – and that’s the last he sees of her until she shows up in his apartment 10 years later.
As for what she wants in the present day, she initially asks for Matt’s help in overseeing a business deal with some shady Japanese types (the Roxxon Corporation are straight out of the comics), but it quickly turns out that first, she knows he’s Daredevil (as if anticipating his denial, she counters by unzipping a bag, tossing him his costume and telling him to suit up), and second, she needs his help because there’s a darker mystery afoot, involving ninjas, a giant hole in the ground and the secret of immortality/bringing the dead back to life or something.
Episode 8 sees the return of Scott Glenn as Stick, indicating that the show intends to address the plot elements it left dangling last season, with the Japanese transporting the child in the metal container on the train (Stick mentions a weapon called Black Sky). Courtesy of Stick, we get a potted history of the ninja assassins and learn that they belong to an organisation called The Hand (also direct from the comics). More devastating for Matt, however, is the realisation that Elektra not only knows Stick, but she’s been working for him all along, to the point where he was even her target at their initial meeting, with Stick intending to lure him away from the law, his studies and his friends, with the aim of persuading him to fight at his side.
Elektra’s presence also causes problems for Matt with both Foggy and Karen, leading to a fall-out between him and his partner over his frequent disappearances and a break-up with Karen, despite a pair of charming date sequences – the moment where Matt says goodnight to Karen because he wants to hold on to that one perfect moment is rather lovely and, needless to say, pretty much the last moment of happiness he has before all the ninja stuff kicks off.
On the strength of episodes 5 to 8, Elektra is a great addition to the show and the production team have done a terrific job with her costume, which stays true to the character and looks stylish and cool, without all the red twirly ribbons and revealing silks that defined her comics incarnation. Needless to say, the introduction of ninjas means a lot more fighting and it’s fun to see the show continuing to find imaginative, interesting ways to present fight scenes – most notably the scene behind frosted glass when they break into the Nakotomi building. Similarly, there’s a lot of chemistry between Elodie Yung and Charlie Cox and it’s great that they’ve given her a sense of humour (not present in the comics, as far as I remember – correct me if I’m wrong) – I particularly liked her ending a breathless fight sequence by turning to Matt. “Hungry?”
The introduction of Elektra and the ninja plot effectively splits Season 2 into two separate strands. While Matt and Elektra are off fighting The Hand, Foggy and Karen have their hands full when they end up defending Frank at a public trial that’s been fast-tracked by scheming D.A. Reyes. (This is nicely handled – they’re initially on hand to stop Frank getting extradited to Delaware to face the death penalty, but end up as his defence team when he unexpectedly enters a plea of not guilty.)
It’s great to see Nelson & Murdock (and Page) engaged in some actual lawyering, something that was largely missing from the previous season. Foggy and Matt both get to deliver some impressive courtroom speeches and it’s a lot of fun seeing them sticking it to Reyes. However, in another unexpected – and, even if you were expecting it, sooner-than-expected – plot twist, Frank’s angry outburst (“I’m glad I did it!”) in court lands him in prison where he’s escorted directly into a meeting with none other than Wilson Fisk (cue cheers from fans), who greets him with “I see you got my message…”
All in all, these four episodes continue to deliver kick-ass fight sequences, while introducing two separate mystery elements to the plot (the apparent conspiracy surrounding Frank and whatever those pesky ninjas are up to) and bringing strong emotional depth to the core relationships.
– Although the boxing gym flashback scene where Elektra realises that Matt can “see” was nicely handled, the show should probably have dropped the ensuing slow-motion sex scene, which was both superfluous and poorly directed.
– Stick isn’t the only returning character – it’s great to see Amy Rutberg back as Foggy’s ex, Marci Stahl.
– As a fan of The Flash, I was particularly amused by the casting of Clancy Brown as Frank’s character witness from the army, as it means he’s now played a General on both Marvel and D.C. shows.
All episodes of Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 2 are available to watch exclusively on Netflix UK, as part of a £7.49 monthly subscription.