Hell To Pay
♦ Daredevil season three has been available on Netflix since 19 October and Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows took a look at the whole season…
Daredevil season three
Executive Producer: Erik Olesen
Stars: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jay Ali
Daredevil was the first of Marvel’s Netflix TV shows, which started back in 2015. The quality of the shows has ebbed and flowed over the past three and a half years: the first series of Daredevil was excellent and the first run of Jessica Jones was very strong too. However, both seasons of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, the second season of Jessica Jones, Daredevil season two and The Punisher all suffered from poor pacing and a feeling that there was a really great TV show in there somewhere if they had only cut the episode order to around ten or in the Punisher’s case, to six. The less said about last year’s Defenders the better. So here we are at Daredevil’s third season with its showrunner, Erik Olesen, proclaiming publicly that his aim for the third season was to fuse the tone of Daredevil season one with HBO’s seminal show The Sopranos. So has he and his team achieved this?
We open with a Matt Murdock who is physically and emotionally broken. He has just lost the love of his life, Elektra, at the end of the last story and he doesn’t feel that he can be Daredevil anymore. So he runs to the church he was brought up to lick his wounds and work out what he will do next with his life. Meanwhile, Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) is in prison but you can’t keep a good criminal mastermind down. He does a deal with the FBI that sees him freed in exchange seemingly for his help in bringing down the other crime gangs in New York. But of course, with Fisk, nothing is what it seems and so begins a tangled web where he uses his machiavellian talents to use the FBI to remove his rivals and make him Kingpin of New York City once again.
The third season sees the introduction of Benjamin Poindexter, a flawed FBI agent played by Wilson Bethel, whose fall from grace continues throughout the season, and FBI agent Ray Nadeem (Jay Ali), who also finds Fisk an adversary impossible to best. Deborah Ann Woll and Elden Henson are back as Karen Page and Franklin (Foggy) Nelson, attempting to bring the KIngpin to justice while trying to rehabilitate Matt Murdock. We are also introduced to a major Daredevil villain, who I won’t name but it isn’t that hard to glean who he is. Joanne Whalley is Sister Mary, a woman with a strong connection to Matt.
D’Onofrio is even more magnetic than he has been before here as Fisk. He possesses such power and he dominates every scene he is in. Cox, who spends the entire season out of the DD costume in a stripped down version of his usual garb, is good as ever and there are some great moments, which do offer some emotional depth to the characters. Poindexter or Dex is a suitably deranged new threat, who is able to be manipulated by Fisk. But like the second season, the first half is very strong but in terms of pacing, it does feel like it would have been a tighter season if it had been 10 rather than 13 episodes. It is a better piece of work than the second season but it doesn’t quite match the highs of the first one. In terms of visuals, the bar here is very high.
Over three years since Marvel’s Netflix universe debuted on TV, and with the seeming cancellation of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, Daredevil is still a very accomplished superhero TV season. But it’s not quite The Sopranos. Olesen should be commended for trying something ambitious with the characters but it doesn’t quite succeed. It is still worth watching for fans of superhero TV and gritty modern drama.