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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 18, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: ‘Daredevil’ weaves together complex story threads

Daredevil: Season 3

Netflix

The offices of the “New York Bulletin” are in shambles, bodies and office supplies scattered around the chaotic newsroom. In the middle of a fight scene, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), aka Daredevil, hides behind the wall of a cubicle; he knows he has met his match.

A Daredevil imposter (Wilson Bethel) hunts Murdock. The villain’s ominous pursuit feels like the calm before the storm in a horror movie. This scene at the “Bulletin” encapsulates the mixture of genres featured in the third season of “Daredevil” — the show features elements of romance, horror, suspense and classic kung fu movies.

Showrunner Erik Oleson shapes several seemingly disparate story threads and underlying themes into a cohesive whole. At times, the show’s third season focuses on Matt Murdock’s return to life after he nearly died in the finale of “The Defenders. The main draw of the show is the reprisal of the rivalry between Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Murdock. Fisk, also known as the Kingpin, rebuilds his criminal empire while serving a prison sentence, and  Murdock’s mission as Daredevil is to stop villains like the Kingpin from corrupting the justice system. During his day job as a lawyer, Murdock attempts to take Fisk down by building an infallible court case against him. At the same time, Fisk hatches another elaborate scheme to get revenge on Murdock for putting him in prison in the first place. Oleson weaves all of these pieces together under the season’s main conflict: Murdock vs. Fisk.

As with Marvel’s other Netflix shows, like the first season of “Iron Fistand the second season of “Jessica Jones, the third season of “Daredevil suffers from an excessive episode count. Oleson takes a story that could effectively be told in 10 episodes or fewer and stretches it into 13 installments. At first, the season is painfully slow. The show fails to fully grab the viewer’s interest until the middle of the third episode. As the web of Fisk’s criminal conspiracy continues to expand, the show gradually kicks into high gear, but the problematic pacing remains an issue throughout the season.

“Daredevilhas always featured strong performances from its lead actors that the other “Defenders”-based shows have usually lacked. “Daredevil” season three is the show’s best because Cox and D’Onofrio bring their A-games. For the majority of the show, Cox captures Murdock’s hopelessness and overall darkness. Throughout several discussions with Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley), Murdock’s newfound cynicism and dejection are tangible on Cox’s face and in his voice. In these scenes, Cox’s tone is quietly disheartened and bitter, a display that demonstrates how far the hero has fallen. Then, when the rivalry with Fisk begins to escalate, Cox shows Murdock’s passionate need to stop Fisk to the viewer with a performance full of heart and rage. As the conflict reaches its boiling point, Murdock screams at Fisk with so much sincerity that the viewer can feel the hero’s desperation. Cox, now more than ever, brings genuine heart to the role and allows Daredevil’s triumphant return to shine.

Likewise, D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Fisk is, once again, masterful. In the first few episodes, Fisk, too, seems like a changed man. He’s a quiet, brooding prisoner instead of a violent and temperamental mob boss. D’Onofrio makes every word feel impactful, especially as the facade of Fisk’s new personality begins to crumble.

D’Onofrio also brilliantly captures Fisk’s love for Vanessa Marianna (Ayelet Zurer). When Fisk talks to Vanessa, his voice is soft and full of love. But when his love is threatened by Murdock’s hunger for justice, his anger and power roar louder than ever. D’Onofrio successfully brings every aspect of Fisk’s complicated character to life and allows Kingpin to remain one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The third season of “Daredevil” features a love story, action and a thrilling plot about a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy. The show blends these elements into a viewing experience unlike any of Marvel’s other Netflix shows.

The third season of “Daredevil” is successful due to its combination of genres: It offers something for everyone. The newest installment in Marvel’s series of Netflix shows is a mostly captivating, action-packed thriller filled with love and hate as well as ruthless rage and heartwarming happiness.