It's easy, almost expected, to forget that Daredevil shares continuity with the heavy hitters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The series deals with the discomfort of being human with the grit and gravitas we now expect from such an aggressively thematic show. Fortunately, its recently released third season is no different. Hell, it may even be better. Sure, the pacing and payoff issues are still present. And yes, there's thick dialogue and deliberate equivocation. At the same time, though, these new episodes showcase career-best performances from both Charlie Cox and Vincent D'Onofrio, both of whom treat the duality between Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk as the show's centrepiece. Showrunner Erik Oleson wisely focuses on the dichotomy between the two even as he introduces terrifying new adversaries for both. It's all very busy and exciting, but the cast, crew, and concept hold up incredibly well against the overwhelmingly high expectations audiences set.
Following his “death” at the end of last year's The Defenders, Murdock (Cox) is missing. His friends Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) continue their lives as a lawyer and a journalist, respectively. Crime lord Wilson Fisk (D'Onofrio) plots his escape from prison. It's a ton of ground to cover in a 13-episode season, but Oleson and company accomplish their goals with aplomb. The series ends in a hurry, but it's nice to see a season capper that cares deeply about its protagonists' souls.
Easily the most compelling product of the Marvel/Netflix team-up, Daredevil pairs rich writing with oft-questioned morality, becoming a powerful example of layered storytelling that matters. It wastes no time throwing viewers into Murdock's struggle. This grants the writers plenty of time to write in interpersonal fallouts, idealogical waffling, and flawed decision-making, all of them blending into one breathtakingly human narrative. Murdock's journey, like ours, isn't linear; the guy repeatedly questions Daredevil's place in his life and relationships. He symbolises the indecisiveness of a good heart in a big, messy way and frequently pays for it.
While flawed, the third season of Daredevil delivers on its promise to shock and entertain, to grant us deeper insight into a tormented hero with everything to lose. Oleson's tight narrative further bolsters a show blessed with magnetic actors, a great premise, and a strong foundation built during the previous two seasons.
It's a hell of a ride. Pun definitely intended.
DAREDEVIL – SEASON 3 / STARRING: CHARLIE COX, VINCENT D'ONOFRIO, DEBORAH ANN WOLL, ELDEN HENSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW [NETFLIX]