MAJOR 'DAREDEVIL' SEASON 2 SPOILERS BELOW! Continue only if you're a Daredevil;-)
Daredevil Season 2 premiered on Netflix this weekend, and for those of us lucky enough to have the time to binge watch it, or just not sleep for 24 hours, it was a wild ride! Season 2 brought out all the stops, it was full of more intense and rounded episodes than season one, superb character development, and even more stunning fight sequences to be amazed by. Also, two new major characters were introduced into Marvel's Netflix universe; The Punisher, played by Jon Bernthal, and Elektra, played by Elodie Yung. The season starts out with a BANG, literally, that's the name of episode 1, with the first time Daredevil and The Punisher cross paths. However, we don't get an introduction to Elektra until the very last scene in episode 4, Penny and Dime.
Both new characters were designed to bring their own element of chaos into the show, but since the pair were announced to be joining, I have to admit that I found it odd for Daredevil to be introducing them both in the same season, instead of saving one for the future. I was worried the show may be too crowed with so many prominent characters from the comics sharing the screen. Who would take the lead? Who was the real villain of the season? Who was more important to the center of the plot and Daredevil's evolution as a hero? Finishing Season 2, I realized I had gotten my answer. There were FOUR important characters in the puzzle, not just three, and it all lead to the very last moment of Season 2, where Matthew Murdock willingly reveals himself to someone for the first time (key word being willingly). Not just any person, but Karen Page, his self-proclaimed one true love.
Watching Season 2, I felt divided into 3 worlds. Matt's, Karen's, and the one where they meet in between, with the Punisher and Elektra as the driving forces. Karen and Matt's journey through season 2 mirror eachothers, and when they intersect, both remain secretive about their respective paths while desperately trying to allow themselves to connect without the truth. Simultaneously, Elektra and Frank Castle's (Punisher) character evolution's run parallel, never intersecting, and each with their own end. In this, I discovered an interesting parallel as I watched the battle for souls, heroism, and love rage on in Hell's Kitchen. Frank "The Punisher" Castle was to Karen Page what Elektra was to Daredevil. Lets dig in.
Daredevil and Elektra: A Battle For The Devil's Soul
Matt's world begins in Episode 5, where we are brought into the trenches of Elektra and Daredevil's turbulent relationship. How it began, how it ended, and where they are now. Matt finds himself once again being manipulated by Elektra into doing her bidding, no matter the cost, leading to her revealing she knows exactly who he is, mask and all. He is consumed in the chaos raging in his life as Murdock by day and vigilante by night, and she knows him better than anyone, but not because he allowed it, more because she seized the knowledge by force. With Elektra he thinks he can be both Matt and Daredevil, until it goes too far, which it always does with her, of course.
Murdock finds himself enjoying the feeling of being able to wear the mask in front of someone that knows it's him underneath, and he begins to think that him and Elektra could work this time, that she's changed, and is who he needs. She coaxes him into a realm of comfort in a passionate whirlwind that allows her to get him closer and closer to crossing the line she did so long ago, because, if he crosses the line, she won't be alone anymore.
That's when Stick shows up to, in essence, save the day. After Elektra is injured and Matt finds his first love dying in front of his eyes, Stick saves her life, but reveals the true reason behind Matt and Elektra's chance meeting in the first place, and why she was back now. Not to be with him, but to use him. Elektra works for Stick, and Stick needs Matt to defeat The Hand and it's supernatural forces threatening Hell's Kitchen. Unfortunately for her, Elektra hadn't been able to avoid falling in love with Matt through it all, and this was the one thing Matt knew he could use against her.
Thus Matt's journey to save Elektra begins, because in saving her, in proving she is good, he proves to himself he is not plummeting head first into the darkness of his mask, that he is the hero his city deserves, and that he is capable of love. There are so many "OPEN YOUR EYES MURDOCK!" moments, where he is not just physically blinded, but emotionally blinded by his feelings for Elektra. In convincing Elektra to leave Stick and fight the mission Matt's way, be with him, and be "good", Matt feels he has the upper hand. Yet, while his life as Daredevil seems to be working out, his life as Matt is falling apart. He can't save Elektra, she has to save herself, and in doing so, she will save him, the man, not the vigilante.
Karen Page and Frank "The Punisher" Castle: Trust In The Truth
The Punisher makes his debut in episode one, where he and Daredevil square off after violent outbursts in Hell's Kitchen. The Punisher pushes Daredevil to a low point by, as he explains, being willing to go where Daredevil won't to defeat the corrupt, much like Elektra. Nelson and Murdock get swooped into the matter after representing a client that The Punisher wants dead. Karen Page, after feeling like she failed at protecting their now dead client from Frank like she promised, begins to dig into The Punisher's identity, and what his business with Hell's Kitchen is. This takes Karen down a path that will reveal dark places Karen hides within in, that she so desperately has tried to keep at bay, and longs to rid herself of for good. To her, Frank is the only one that can help her do that.
In episode 4, she breaks into his home, discovering he has, or had, a family. His story isn't so simple, it's not cut and dry, much like Karen sees her own life, as a muddy swap of grey, and for better or worse, Frank is connected to the real big bad of Hell's Kitchen is, and it's not him. Karen, herself, has a dark past we still haven't been revealed to, while it was heavily hinted in season one and again in season 2. With Frank, she sympathizes with him in a very specific way, it's personal to her. Karen's past clearly haunts her every move, and like Matt, she spends much of her time trying to redeem herself through others. Mirroring Matt's mission to save Elektra from herself, Karen makes it her business to get justice for Frank, and save his soul. Turns out she and Frank are a lot alike, they tell it like it is, and they have both imprisoned themselves in trying to avenge others.
Karen convinces Foggy and Matt to take on Frank Castle, who is guilty of multiple murders, after gaining the trust of Frank himself. She tells him that the DA is lying to him about what happened to his family, something she learned from some fabricated documents and reports. Like when Matt convinces Elektra to leave Stick and her life of killing behind, Karen convinces Frank to let the truth bring justice for him and his family, not by using his guns. She fights for him, even when the audience can so clearly see he is a lost cause.
Karen and Frank become closer, and even after he goes rogue on her and escapes prison, he finds Karen, the only person he trusts to help him finish his journey to justice. It's not long, though, before she soon discovers he was only using her to draw out his intended targets. Keeping her safe, he continues his original path of destruction. She can't help but feel responsible for the blood on Frank's hands, feeling she provided him with everything he needed to finish what he started, other than his guns. She pleads with him "If you do this, you're dead to me!" to which he responds,"I'm already dead.". Karen can't save Frank, or redeem herself through him. Only Frank can free himself from the prison of loss he lives in, and in turn free Karen from her own prison of secret dark corners in her soul.
Matt and Karen Intersect: Why It's Important
In the midst of Daredevil's fight to save Elektra's soul, and Karen's fight to save Frank from his personal prison, Matt and Karen meet in-between to fall in love, though neither will admit it. Daredevil is no sappy romance show, in fact, the romance is not what's important at all, it's the relationships and how they relate to Daredevil's vigilante and personal life. In season 1, Matt avoided getting too close to Karen, actor Charlie Cox even stated that he wears his glasses around Karen all the time because Matt feels she sees right through him, and he's not ready to let anyone in that deep. All season 1 was moments of Karen reaching for Matt, and him pulling back, and vice versa.
Season 2 shows that both have softened up. With what they thought was the big bad in Hell's Kitchen now in prison, Matt begins to open up to the idea that Daredevil and Matt Murdock can co-exist, just not in the same room. At one point when Karen mentions her brother while helping Matt's with his tie, he reacts surprised she never told him she had a brother. Karen replies bluntly that he never asked. Matt realizes at that moment how much work he's put into shutting someone out that he actually wants to let in.
This is an example of where Matt is with not just Karen, but himself. He is so consumed with Daredevil, and is afraid that he can't be Matt and the vigilante at the same time. In fear, he's kept them in separate worlds. His best friend, Foggy, call him out on this. "Careful Matt," Foggy joked, "Keep going like this, you might just end up happy.". So, the following episode Matt extends an olive branch while comforting Karen at Josie's, and asks her about her brother.
This leads to the literal opening of floodgates. In the rain, Karen and Matt begin to let down their guards, and give into their feelings for eachother, even though they are are both harboring painful secrets out of fear. This is the exact moment where Frank shows up in Karen's life, and Elektra back in Matt's, and it's not an accident.
That's when Karen and Matt hit a road bump, and their blossoming romance gets put on hold as Matt takes shelter with Elektra and Karen with Frank. But by end Season 2, Matt and Karen get to a place of having to let go of the tight grip Frank and Elektra have on them, and face eachother. In doing so, Frank and Elektra complete their journey's to redemption, and Matt and Karen find themselves left with only eachother, even Foggy is nowhere to be found. As far as for our anti-heroes, Elektra meets a more final ending than Frank, but both are able to give up on the fight they were never going to win, metaphorically laying down their swords, and in turn finally defeat their demons. Matt, nor Karen, could have done that for them.
Still, in the end, this is Matt's story, and Frank, Elektra, and Karen's journey's were all meant to get him where we find him at the end of episode thirteen. Just before he and Elektra leap into their final battle to defeat the Hand, Matt pleads for her to run away with him. Knowing Matt better than he knows himself, Elektra sees his offer for what it is, a cop out. "You hide from yourself, you don't let anyone in," she tells him, and if he leaves with her, he won't ever have to. Through Elektra's sacrifice, Matt is able to choose, for the first time since becoming Daredevil, to let someone in. Just as Elektra chose to be good, and Karen chose to fight for the truth, and Frank chose to be free. Matt chooses to take his mask off in front of Karen, and lets Daredevil and Matt Murdock merge for good.
Daredevil season 2 was Matt's struggle to be himself and a hero, when he was already both in the first place, and the parallel journeys of Elektra and The Punisher showed him that, and were the guiding lights leading him there.