Curse you Netflix! I always thought if my wife left me for a celebrity it would be for Rachel Maddow. It’s no secret that whip-smart wonk makes her little heart go pitter pat. (Fun fact: When she isn’t on TV, Rachel dresses just like Jessica Jones.) I was mistaken, though. The Punisher is my wife’s one true TV crush. DareDevil: Season II did such an excellent job of humanizing Frank Castle that my true love actually gasped aloud while watching, “I love you, Frank Castle.” More than once. Like lots of times. Sigh.
With out giving too much away and spoiling things for the few folks out there who still haven’t binge watched this season, I’ll just say that the shows writers take Frank’s origin from the books and punch up the feels…with schmaltzy steroids. Frank Castle becomes the heart and soul of this season. Jon Bernthal easily steals every scene he is in. No easy task considering the quality of the cast. His hangdog face, usually covered with bruises and blood, is perfectly evocative of a weary man at war with the world.
Karen Page, again played by the amazing Deborah Ann Woll, becomes his main advocate and champion forcing the firm of Nelson (Elden Henson) and Murdock (Charlie Cox) to defend him after his murderous rampage through the Big Apple. There is conspiracy and betrayal aplenty as the convoluted plot unfurls.
Actually, if there is anything to complain about it’s that there might be a tad too much plot for some viewers. Hornhead finds himself battling The Punisher, the underworld, new enemies, old enemies and his friends. All while trying to deal with his life and career unraveling around him.
Of course the thing all fanboys are waiting for with bated breath…the super sploogey moneyshot of Frank Miller’s DareDevil, the lady in red herself…is Elektra Natchios. Just how would she be portrayed. Obviously, Jennifer Garner did not set the bar too high in the big screen DareDevil fiasco of 2003. So, does Elodie Yung handle the role ably? Yes. Does she look the part? Yes. Is her origin canon? Nope. Not so much. Is the story the same? Nope, nope, nope. Is this a problem? That depends on how much of a purist you are. I myself am pretty much a purist. And I enjoyed it none the less.
Where Miller’s lady assassin was a emotionally spent and morally bankrupt cipher, Yung’s Elektra is an uber rich socialite and kind of a brat. She’s appropriately worldly, sophisticated, fun, dangerous and pretty much completely untrustworthy. But honorable in her heart of hearts. And despite her better judgment, she does Love Matt Murdock. It’s a lot to juggle but Yung pulls it off as well as the athletic fight scenes. Whatever else you say about her, it’s hard to look away when she is on the screen.
I have to ask, why did Drew Goddard feel the need to change Elektra’s origin and nature so fundamentally? Was she not compelling enough for the small screen? What does it add to the story besides a hoary, over used trope about ancient evil blah, blah, blah (The Black Sky? Really? Eat bug, Drew). It’s a different Elektra. Not so different as to be unrecognizable, but unless something truly weird happens in Season III they were wholly unneeded.
There is plenty that is familiar, though and plenty of familiar faces from Season I; Stick (Scott Glenn), Turk (Rob Morgan), Melvin Potter (Matt Gerald) and others I won’t mention. Plus obscure characters from the book, Grotto (McCaleb Burnett), Blake Tower (Stephen Rider), etc so your fanboy itch will get scratched. Plus, there are Easter Eggs aplenty including the Stilt Man armor. Yes, The motherfucking Stilt man armor! And, of course, Roxxon. Needless to say, the whole thing crosses over neatly with Jessica Jones and ends with multiple cliffhangers. You’ll be panting for Season III. Unless you’re such a purist you can’t get past the changes they made to Elektra. In which case you might need a Xanax.
There are plenty of familiar faces from Season I; Stick, Turk, Melvin Potter and others I won’t mention. Plus obscure characters from the book, Grotto, DA Tower, etc so your fanboy itch will get scratched. Plus, there are Easter Eggs aplenty including the Stilt Man armor. Yes, The motherfucking Stilt man armor! And, of course, Roxxon. needless to say, the whole thing crosses over neatly with Jessica Jones and ends with multiple cliffhangers. Obviously, you will be panting for Season III. Unless you are such a purist you can’t get past the changes they made to Elektra and her backstory.
It’s worth noting that DareDevil’s costume is much improved over last season’s. Additionally, the action sequences are much more intense and one in particular borders on epic. Epic enough, in fact, to make you forget the hallway fight from DareDevil: Season I. So do yourself a favor. Tell the naysayers to piss off. Get some popcorn and take a long weekend off to enjoy the whole thing uninterrupted.
One last thing I have to add. I realize it’s an established fact now that when Superheroes are going through a rough patch they stop shaving. Even Christopher Reeve got 5 o’clock shadow in Superman III. The strange visitor from another planet may be able to get away with that shit but a lawyer, even a blind one, can’t. Pick up a razor, Murdock. You look like a bum. Or an underwear model. Karen’s skin is way too sensitive to be kissing that bristly mug of yours.
That’s just my opinion. But I’m always right. Mostly.
He also sings for the Supra-70s band, RIFLE.