**Please note that this review only emcompasses the first six episodes given to critics**
Does the third season of Daredevil live up to the wait and expectations?
The short answer: Yes. Not only does it live up to all of the hype, but it in many ways exceeds it—and offers us some of the best Marvel Netflix content to date. With Matt barely making it out of The Defenders alive, he is back in NYC. One major thing has changed though—not only was his body shattered, but so was his faith. Add Vincent D’Onofrio’s Fisk into the mix, and Daredevil has a hard time ahead of him.
As fantastic as parts of season two were, season three feels like the true natural continuation of the story we left off with in season one. Loose ends are brought back into the spotlight; Fisk is back; and Matt Murdock is forced back to the basics. The writing, pacing, and overall narrative structure is fantastic within the first six episodes that I had the pleasure of viewing. Season three also dives deeper into every character, helping to give the relationships and stakes within the story more weight than ever before.
And yes, Daredevil remains the king of action sequences when it comes to the Marvel Netflix properties. The long-take fight sequence that is given to us this time around is jaw-dropping, and out-does anything we’ve ever seen to this point. I was so taken aback that I immediately had to rewind and watch it a second time. Even outside of their famous one-takes, the fight choreography shines. From the dark streets of NYC, to a parking garage, to a stunning showdown in an office building—there is almost nothing more satisfying to watch than Matt going toe-to-toe with the bad guys. Many people have complained about fight fatigue in the past seasons—something I never felt, but could see how one might feel that way. This time around, I really do think the show has found the right balance between intense action and deep character moments. I never once got tired of a brawl, and none of them came off as repetitive. In fact the pacing and momentum of this season is simply the best we’ve enjoyed from Netflix to date.
Now let’s talk about Matt Murdock. As always, Charlie Cox’s performance is stellar—he was born for this role. This season puts Matt in a unique place. His faith has always been an important part of who he is—a guiding light in the darkness that he navigates everyday. What happens when something like that is gone? When a man’s faith is shattered? Something that can’t just heal like broken bones can? That’s the question that season three focuses on—and it does a fantastic job at it. We see Matt at his absolute lowest, and struggling to get out of that low point will certainly be the focus of the season. Some viewers may see similarities to the thematic questions of season two (like the ethics of killing). However, in what I’ve seen so far, it hasn’t become redundant. Nothing feels repetitive, and I feel like we are seeing a whole new side of Daredevil himself.
One of the best parts of the entire show returns in a big way. That’s right, Vincent D’Onofrio’s stellar take on Wilson Fisk is back. No quality was lost in either writing or performance since we last saw him, and it’s nothing short of amazing to see Fisk back in action. Fisk remains a scary and intimidating man. You never quite know what he is up to until it is too late, and that continues to be the case. On top of getting out of jail, Kingpin has one goal: taking down the devil of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s thrilling to witness the story of Kingpin start to intertwine with Daredevil/Matt’s life on such a personal level—yes, even more so than what season one offered. Kilgrave and Bushmaster were great villains and all, but this season may keep Wilson Fisk as the Kingpin of their villains. There is however another villain who finally gets their much welcomed introduction.
Yes, it’s true. Daredevil season three is finally giving us Bullseye. It’s hard to say much about Wilson Bethel’s role of Agent Poindexter, as his story is so heavily tied into things I can’t go into. However, Bethel’s performance is phenomenal, and the writing behind the character is once again fantastic. If there’s anything Daredevil is the best at besides it’s fight sequences, it may be the fleshing out of its antagonists. Seeing Dex (as he is referred to in the show) in action is nothing short of amazing. You will know the exact moment that he becomes introduced into the story—even if the show wants to wait for the real reveal. Let it be known that the show is focusing on the birth of the man that will one day become Bullseye—so don’t come in expecting the character straight from the pages of the comics. The writers take a really unique approach, and how Dex goes through his journey is just as enticing to watch as Matt struggling with his broken faith.
Now what about our other characters? I used to complain about how seasons one and two made Karen’s backstory this huge secret, and acted as if it was the thing we all watched the show for. Thankfully this season is finally opening up about Karen and her past, and it’s about time. It has, and is continuing, to add layers to both the character and performance that should have been there since season one. As for Foggy, he gets more attention than he’s ever had before. We get more backstory, and even get to continually interact with his entire extended family. Foggy is also given a very interesting plot, one that plays out nicely parallel to everyone else’s—and becomes even more intriguing when it crashes into other characters’ journeys. Now clearly, the both of them will learn of Matt’s survival at some point. Watching the way they both react to it is fantastic. Even more intriguing is watching how they deal with this new Matt Murdock.
Now besides Dex, there are more new faces this season. First there is Joanne Whalley as Sister Maggie. While her performance is great, what really makes Sister Maggie’s role in the story shine is the fantastic dynamic that she has with Matt. I could watch the two have philosophical arguments all day. I hope she has plenty more story to be told as the season continues. Jay Ali also joins the show as Agent Nadeem. Nadeem plays a huge role when it comes to Kingpin’s part in the story, and this is how he comes to meet some of our other cast members. I didn’t immediately warm up to him (they also kind of blindside you with his introduction), but as the show went on his plot become more interesting. I think the best parts of his story are still left to come (in the last half of the season).
Having only seen the first six episodes of Daredevil season three, I can easily say that this could end up being one of Marvel’s best season’s of a show, period. The show looks fantastic, the fights are breathtaking and brutal, the characters continue to impress, and the precise handling and control the show has of juggling all of the running plot threads is nothing short of impressive. With Kingpin and Bullseye both painting a target on Daredevil’s back, Matt Murdock is looking to have one hell of a season.
You can catch the third season of Daredevil when it airs exclusively on Netflix on October 19th