‘Daredevil’ Season 3 Review: Daredevil’s Getting Back To Basics

The Devil of Hells Kitchen is back, and he’s got his work cut out for him once again!

It’s been a rough two weeks for Marvel/Netflix.  Despite a stellar improvement for Iron Fist’s second season, the streaming giant decided to pull the plug on the mystical kung-fu superhero.  The same goes for Harlem’s Hero, Luke Cage, who was also just canceled despite also having a strong second season of the show.  We know Jessica Jones is headed for a third season, as well as The Punisher.  But what about the OG hero that started the wave of these “street-level” heroes within the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  How about the blind ninja who knows no fear?  While some didn’t think the second season was as strong as the first (we here at PDC liked it), fans were eagerly anticipating the third season.  Would Daredevil Season 3 be able to offset this recent bad news for the streaming giant and Marvel’s partnership?

Absolutely!!  Daredevil is back to basics, and just as good as the first season (if not better)!
When we last saw Matt Murdock, he was helping Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, save New York against The Hand when the building was falling in on him and he opted to remain behind to make sure everyone got out alive as everything came caving down on him and his beloved Elektra.  Since then, 4 months have passed and Matt (Charlie Cox) has been missing all this time.  We get to see how he miraculously survived the cage in, and at near death, he manages to find his way to the Catholic Orphanage that raised him and under the care of Father Lantom (Peter McRobbie) and newcomer Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley) who’s backstory is a very interesting one (especially if you are a comic fan).  His near-death experience has left him broken physically as his lack of hearing in one ear has screwed with his radar sense that he uses to “see” is no longer working, rendering him unable to continue as Daredevil until he heals.  More importantly, he has become broken spiritually.  Matt, who’s Catholic upbringing is just as a part of him as his abilities, no longer applies as he’s having a crisis of faith.  If he wants to get back into the game, he’s going to have to heal both his body, as well as his spirit.
Members of Matt’s inner circle are also trying to move on as well.  Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) and Foggy (Elden Henson) hold out the hope that Matt survived the cave in, but they have to continue their lives.  Karen has been paying Matt’s rent with the hopes that he will return to a home while also continuing as a reporter in search of the truth, and Foggy continues as a lawyer.  When Matt finally returns, he’s distant as he no longer wants to continue as Matt Murdock, only as Daredevil.  This forces the two of them to go on their own journeys to help Matt come back to the man he was, and at the same time in their own way fight against the corrupt forces of the city, Karen as a reporter, Foggy using the law.
Meanwhile, an old enemy has laid some plans that are finally coming into motion.  Wilson Fisk, AKA The Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio), has been patiently waiting for his moment to strike while serving time in prison for the events of the first season.  Fisk finds his way out of his prison situation in the form of turning to a snitch for the FBI.  Cozying up to troubled agent Ray Nadeem (Jay Ali), he strikes a deal to be able to lessen his prison sentence (then house arrest, then overturn his conviction) through a series of intricate plans that all work in his favor.  While the approach is very “comic-booky” on a show that prides itself on authenticity and being “grounded,” his plan works very effectively and easy to believe and accept.  One by one, you get to see him infiltrate and corrupt every institution he gets his hands on, till he once again becomes the “Kingpin of Crime” we all know and love.  You have got to give D’Onofrio a lot of credit, his performance is powerful and majestic.  Trying to play this type of character is very complex, and he now seems to be able to nail it in his sleep.
Once healed, Matt makes it his mission to take Fisk down once and for good.  Of course, this means he will have to do the one thing he promised he wouldn’t do, he will have to kill Fisk.  In the second season, he has a spirited argument with Frank Castle AKA The Punisher arguing against killing his enemies and Castle tells him, that Daredevil is only “one bad day” from being just like The Punisher, and this season proves that Castle was right.  Daredevil commits himself to do the one thing he promised he would never do: take a life.  A weird new thing this season does his have Matt talk with his conscience in the forms of an aberration of Wilson Fisk and his father Jack Murdock.  At first, the idea feels very gimmicky especially when he’s literally fighting a phantom version of Wilson Fisk, but it goes to showcase how broken Matt’s mind is becoming as the season progresses.  Karen and Foggy know this will break and change Matt forever if he does this, so they work their hardest to make sure that it doesn’t happen.
Wilson Fisk knows that the best way to beat Daredevil is through psychological warfare.  The best way to take the ire of the public off of him, it to place it on someone else.  Through intricate planning, he finds a “new” Daredevil in the form of troubled FBI SWAT agent Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter (Wilson Bethel), AKA Bullseye.  Dex is a borderline sociopath who someone managed to fall through the cracks in life just enough to be able to function without going on a murderous rampage.  We get to see his backstory as a troubled kid who would kill animals, but thanks to a dedicated therapist, managed to function properly enough to get a job where he could act on those impulses as an agent.  While under Kingpin’s protective detail, Dex gets manipulated and corrupted to carry out Kingpin’s plan of killing while wearing a mock Daredevil costume to frame Matt and change the public against him.  Dex’s take on Bullseye completely washes away the campy stink Collin Farrell left on the character the same way Charlie Cox did for Ben Affleck from the 2003 movie.  His fighting is top notch, but more importantly, his aim makes him a force to be reckoned with.  His first meetup with Matt proves disastrous for Daredevil.  In the aftermath, Matt has to not only stop Fisk, but find a way to outfight Bullseye, which is why he needs Karen a Foggy.
The only weak part of the series is to finally give us Karen Page’s backstory, and while it wasn’t a bad backstory, it was completely out of pace with the show.  Remember in Stranger Things when they just decided to stop the forward momentum of the show and give us Eleven hanging out with a goth gang for an entire episode?  This is pretty much the same type of thing where the story is moving at a very fast pace and they decided to give us a “Before” and “Now” story showing how Karen was before she showed up in New York.  It could have been done by simply giving us an exposition dump by Karen, but instead, we got a half-hour unnecessary flashback, total momentum killer.  However, that’s probably one of the only gripes of the show as for the most part, they are giving us exactly what we want from a Daredevil show.
What makes this season a return to the greatness of the first is how back to the basics the show is.  No longer focusing on the mysticism of The Hand (which dragged Season 2, The Defenders, and Iron Fist Season 1 down), which just didn’t work as well on the small screen as Marvel was probably hoping it would.  Making The Kingpin once again the primary villains (as he was the first to show that the MCU can do villains justice) and having Matt go back to the black suit (instead of the flashy red suit) showed they wanted to capture all the magic of the first season and do it properly.  The fighting is top notch as well.  While Iron Fist Season 2 stepped their game up, this season of Daredevil once again showed how you do a fight scene.  Daredevil always has their famous “hallway fight” scenes done in impressive long takes.  This time they up the ante time 100 with an elaborate single take fight scene during a prison riot that is just magic to see and expertly done with the fight choreography.  The season gives us a happy ending (opposed to Luke Cage and Iron Fist which gave us something to look forward to) and wraps everything that happened up rather neatly.  Hopefully, this doesn’t mean that Daredevil will get canceled as there’s still a lot left that we want to see.
Rating: 4.5/5

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