This review is based on an advanced screener of episodes 1-6 of Season 3, and not the complete season. There are absolutely NO SPOILERS within this review, and only specifically mentions things that were seen in the trailers.
I was lucky enough to be assigned to the advance review of Daredevil Season 3, and brother, this is not a season that appears to be a disappointment. As was established at the end of Daredevil Season 2 (S2) Matt Murdock is dead. Well, presumed to be dead anyway. In reality, he’s recuperating under the care of some nuns. But he’s not dead. Despite what everyone thinks. This is the first point of a lot of drama going into the first few episodes. Matt Murdock’s death is a sincere driving factor behind a lot of the emotional drama and tension going on with Foggy and Karen. And Matt hasn’t reached out, so it seems like he’s comparably happy to stay “dead.”
Meanwhile, Wilson Fisk has been up to his old tricks in prison, which was established in S2 when Matt paid him a thirty second visit, and he is suddenly ready to cut a deal with the FBI in exchange for release from prison. Fisk getting out of jail is the second major point of character driven drama across the board. His release cannot stand, and it is what eventually brings Matt Murdock kind of back from the dead.
The first few episodes are drama-filled character development dealing with the aftermath of Matt Murdock dying, and in Matt’s case, having a building fall on him. The cinematography is beautiful, as usual, seamlessly falling back into the style that made me fall in love with Daredevil in the first place. There aren’t too many fight scenes in these first episodes, as Matt is still mostly out of commission, but the few that do happen are strategically placed for emphasis and story progression. While there is nothing as stunningly beautifully choreographed and filmed as the hallway scene from S1, the fights are a sight better than the sloppy, shaky cam fights prevalent in Iron Fist.
I think that this season benefits from getting down to a simpler story, not needing to rely on tying into the rest of the Defenders stories, and getting back to the roots of Daredevil. That is to say that Murdock vs. Fisk is at the heart of what makes Daredevil great. In this season, there are fewer moving parts and the moving parts of the story that are there blend seamlessly, like cogs in a clock, each affecting one another without derailing the multiple storylines. When the cog that is Matt Murdock’s story moves, everyone else’s story moves in tandem, and even when the B-stories are happening it never feels like a detriment, or that they are moving tangentially and not affecting the main story. The tight writing and emotional, character-centered drama makes for a compelling watch, even without the major fight scenes.
Episode 5 is a stand-out for me because it is strange. It is filmed in a unique and stunning way that immerses us in the backstory of a new character, but that doesn’t entirely feel like a Daredevil episode. It is a masterfully filmed extended flashback that isn’t quite a flashback. The first half of the episode is this deep dive into the new character, giving us insight into how they work, and ultimately, how they are going to be manipulated by the Fisk storyline.
This season is leaning heavily into Matt’s latent (or is it lapsed at this point?) Catholicism – even the marketing team on Twitter had been quoting Bible passages to hype up the trailers. I am not complaining! This is what I’d always wanted to see in Daredevil; Catholic imagery, Bible quotes, and Catholic Guilt. Matt quotes the story of Job at one point, and the first few episodes have him firmly placed within the sanctuary of the Church. Even the return of Fisk, in my opinion, emulates the story of the Temptation of Christ by Satan in the Desert. It presents an additionally deep exploration of Murdock’s driving force and his psyche – he sees himself as a Martyr, as a savior willing to die for his city and his neighbourhood. One of the preview posters even had him facing Hell’s Kitchen with his arms outstretched as though he’d been crucified. It isn’t too heavy-handed overall, and it’s really only my familiarity with the Biblical meanings and stories that allowed me to draw the comparison. And honestly? I love it. It’s fascinating to see this struggle, and to see Matt facing down his morality and reconciling it with his religion, or lack thereof. Symbolism at its finest.
Giving the Devil his due, this season is the strongest yet and I cannot wait for the rest of it to hit Netflix.
This is a solid 9.5/10 for the first six episodes.