TV Review | Daredevil | Season Three
Season summary: When Wilson Fisk is released from prison, Matt Murdock must decide between hiding from the world or embracing his life as the hero vigilante, Daredevil. (Wikipedia)
I wasn't planning on looking at any TV shows during November as I didn't think I'd have the time, but was extremely interested by the very positive reaction to the latest Netflix Marvel show. Having watched it, I can say that reaction was entirely deserved.
Daredevil season three isn't just the best so far for the title character, but quite possibly the best of any of the heroes adapted for the streaming service. Having said that, you'll only really get the most out of it if you've watched both of the previous seasons and ideally The Defenders too.
It's a similar problem that Avengers: Infinity War faced, but I think Daredevil probably does have a higher barrier to entry with a deeper understanding of the characters and their relationships vital to enjoying the material as much as possible.
It shouldn't really be too much of an issue because I can't imagine many people start watching a show with its third season, but the warning is there for you anyway. It just goes to show how good this season is that a minor issue like this is one of its biggest problems.
The only other real issue I have with this season is how easily Fisk regains power once negotiating his way out of prison. the second season told us that he was running out of money establishing his power base in jail, yet he has all the resources he needs to set up his organisation once again.
Not only that, how easily he can get to people and corrupt them into either working for him or, at least, forcing them to do what he wants does feel a little unearned. It's tricky to judge exactly how 'fair' it all is, as part of might well be me just wanting the good guys to get some kind of win.
There are at least two moments though that felt like they were pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable as being realistic, although even the frustration at those points doesn't really last because you're enjoying everything else so much.
And everything else is so, so good. This is probably Charlie Cox's best season as Matt/Daredevil, as I felt he was a little too exaggerated in his performances in previous seasons, but gives a more subtle performance this time. There are still 'loud' moments for him, but even they feel reined in from what we would have seen in the past.
Equally impressive and also giving another series best performance is Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, who finally receives the title of Kingpin this season. As threatening as he might be physically, D'Onofrio really manages to put across just how dangerous Fisk can be for anyone who opposes him without ever having to lay a hand on them himself.
To complete the triumvirate of awesomeness is Wilson Bethel as Benjamin 'Dex' Poindexter, also know to comic book fans as Bullseye. How he portrays someone coping with overwhelming psychopathic tendencies desperately trying to hold on to his sanity as Fisk tears his life apart is just incredible.
He's also one of the rare cases of a comic book character not really being watered down for TV in terms of their abilities. Sure, Dex might not pull off some of Bullseye's more outlandish efforts, but he's still shown to have the same superhuman accuracy to make him a very dangerous opponent.
The most enjoyable part of the show is how practically everything revolves around the three of them, including the climactic fight in the last episode. And not once does it feel unearned - how their relationships evolve over the course of the show always feels like how actual people would respond to what happens to them, rather than because the plot demands it.
It's the character of Ray Nadeem who probably suffers the most out of those central to the plot. While I think the performance by Jay Ali is fine, the character's development and final fate felt a little predictable. That's the only real criticism for the role, but I think you can figure out what's going to happen with him fairly early on making it a little unsatisfying despite the good performance.
As for Foggy and Karen, they retain central roles as Matt's closest friends, but felt less critical to proceedings than previous seasons and I was fine with that. I don't dislike the characters or actors, and I'm not saying the roles were unimportant in this season, but they definitely act as support this time out rather than what often felt like taking away from the title character in previous seasons.
One last thing I want to praise is the action, which felt a little more stylised this time out, while retaining that exhausting physicality of past seasons. Bullseye's involvement contributed to this, but Matt moves a little differently and fights a little more like you'd expect a seasoned warrior to in this season.
Before this season, it often felt like Daredevil was constantly taking on fights where he was out of his depth and you wondered why someone who trained for this life was so bad at it. Here, it's only when he is outnumbered that he struggles, or in his first encounter with Bullseye - which serves to make Daredevil seem a more legitimate hero, while also getting across the level of danger when he takes a beating.
Daredevil's third season is one of the best seasons for the Marvel shows made for Netflix. It's strong from start to finish, with a story-line that never feels like it's being padded out to fill the thirteen episode season length. One warning: if this is your first season of Daredevil, you might be a little lost early on.