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Daredevil season 3 returns to the show’s roots, plays to its strengths

November 13, 2018

Out of all of Netflix’s Marvel shows, Daredevil has consistently outdone its peers. In the realms of storytelling, fight choreography, and a dedicated following, it has matched or beat out the other Marvel series. While the second season faltered during its second half, it still brought enough to the table to maintain interest for the character through the Defenders series. However, with Daredevil’s fellow Defenders’ shows Luke Cage and Iron fist both being canceled last month, the pressure was on for the third season to deliver.

The season returns to what made the show great in the first place: Matthew Murdock balancing his conviction to fight corruption and protect the people close to him. Following the tumultuous events of the Defenders, Murdock feels broken on more than one level. On the one hand, he’s lost his hearing in one ear, the sense our blind hero relies on most for his crime fighting. On the other hand, he decides can’t allow himself to put his friends in harm’s way anymore, even if it means distancing himself. All that coupled with a season-long struggle with his faith, and the show delivers its best character arc for Murdock yet.

Speaking of Matt’s friends, Foggy Nelson and Karen Page receive some of their best character development this season. Without the benefit of Murdock by his side, Nelson works alone against the villains using his legal skills. Page is given some much-needed backstory in a late-season episode, which makes her even more compelling of a character.

In addition to increasing their roles, the show gives us a few new protagonists to root for. The best example is agent Rahul Nadeem, an up and coming FBI agent played by Jay Ali who provides a captivating foil to Murdock and his vigilante escapades. Sticking to the FBI rulebook, Nadeem serves as a different sort of hero fighting to keep the residents of Hell’s Kitchen safe. While his methods and Daredevils don’t often align and even clash at points, he adds a great new perspective to the show.

Perhaps the most obvious and best example of how this season returns to the show’s roots are in the villain. Wilson Fisk makes his return as the primary antagonist. Vincent D’Onofrio once again steals every scene that he’s in. Just like in season one, he’s both a monster and one of the most sympathetic villains ever put on screen. He may begin the season in a jail cell, but the brilliance of the character is that he doesn’t seem like less of a threat regardless of what setting he’s in.

Another of the show’s defining qualities, the action scenes, are better than ever this season. It’s worth noting that they are far fewer than before, but in this case, quality is far preferable to quantity. One prominent recurring character makes a throwable weapon out of any inanimate object he can find, ranging from a pistol’s empty clip to assorted office supplies.

Daredevil himself is taken through the wringer in a variety of creative and nail-biting ways. While one action scene sees him exhibiting restraint as he stealthily exits a parking garage full of FBI agents, another sees chaos break loose as he fights through a prison riot in an 11-minute-long unbroken camera take. Murdock has no shortage of opportunities to let the devil out.

Daredevil season three had a lot to live up to. Even with season two’s drop-in quality, it was still better than most streaming options. Add to that the pressure of redeeming the downward spiral of Netflix’s Marvel shows. One of the main themes this season addresses whether something can be redeemed after it’s lost its way. When looking at the season’s quality in the context of Netflix’s Marvel shows, the answer is a definitive yes.

Bennett Ryynanen is a student at UW-River Falls.