Daredevil: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray Review)
Release Date(s)2016 (August 22, 2017)
Studio(s)ABC Studios/Marvel/Netflix (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: A+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: F+
After the success of each of Marvel’s and Netflix’s first seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, it wasn’t entirely clear what would follow in their wake. But in 2016, the second season of Daredevil premiered to mostly positive reviews from fans and critics, while further establishing the world that was to eventually become The Defenders. Like the previous seasons, it was another 13-episode run with just as much emphasis on character development and action as before, but obviously, with new ingredients added into the mix. We were introduced to Elektra, a character that needed redemption after a disastrous film adaptation years before, as well as Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher. We also got more into the world of The Hand, an aspect of the Marvel Universe that would be expanded upon in future seasons of other Marvel Netflix shows, in particular, Iron Fist.
Just as a quick refresher, the premise of the show involves a young man named Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), who loses his sight at an early age and is trained by a blind martial arts expert named Stick (Scott Glenn) to use the other senses he still has to become a powerful and proficient fighter. After growing up in Hell’s Kitchen and becoming a lawyer with his best friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and colleague Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), he takes on the criminal underworld by night as Daredevil. However, his past is catching up to him as a mysterious woman named Elektra (Élodie Yung) comes back into his life. With Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) behind bars and the presence of The Hand slowly creeping into the city, he must also deal with the deadly vigilante known as The Punisher (Jon Bernthal). Aiding Daredevil again are his allies: an E.R. nurse named Claire (Rosario Dawson) and his former master Stick.
Daredevil’s second go around the track proves to be a mostly positive one. Like the first season, performances and characterization are the whole ballgame. Everyone is given careful consideration and their relationships with each other develop in interesting directions as the story unfolds. Matt Murdock’s relationship with Elektra is complicated at best, and their checkered past comes to the forefront in many key ways, which are difficult to talk about with spoiling. His relationships with Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, and Stick are strained much of the time, giving him many uphill battles to overcome with some surprises along the way. Unfortunately, some of that material tends to go a long way, particularly with Elektra. While not necessarily bad, it can be a little long in the tooth. However, the main highlight of the second season is The Punisher. Bernthal’s take on Frank Castle is, by many accounts, the definitive one. He is both ruthless and complicated as a character, much in the same way that Wilson Fisk was in the first season. We understand why he’s doing the things that he’s doing, even though we don’t necessarily agree with him. His clash with Daredevil in how criminals are to be dealt with is one of the overarcing themes of the second season, which also ties into Murdock’s other relationships.
Technically, the show is just as strong as its first season, but slips a little and feels a little drunk on its own power at times. The stairway fight, which feels like a take on the hallway fight from the first season, is a little too drawn out and doesn’t feel as effective as its counterpart. That said, everything is still executed with a sense of style and substance, regardless of who is sitting in the director’s chair. The camera work is much of the same as well, allowing the action to unfold almost naturally without going for an overt style as seen in many action-oriented films nowadays. The look of the show is still as strong as before, with the gritty textures of Hell’s Kitchen on full display with only occasional detours, all dependent on character perspectives, of course. The show’s highly-stylized and colorful opening returns, as does the wonderful musical score. All said and done, the second season of Daredevil is just as satisfying as its first. It has some minor hiccups along the way, but spending time in this world is as entertaining as one could hope for.
Making the leap from streaming with variable speeds and bitrates, every episode of the show’s 13-episode run continuously impresses on Blu-ray. Although it was shot digitally, a strong and almost-organic presentation is on display, revealing a colossal amount of fine detail on both foreground and background elements. Skin textures, costumes, and objects are all captured at the highest level of high definition quality that you could ask for. The color palette, which doesn’t offer a wide variety of hues, is also electrifying (Elektrafying, if you will). Blacks are inky deep but with a vast amount of shadow detail, while brightness and contrast levels are virtually perfect. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, but if you look hard enough, you might spot a tiny bit of video noise or banding in certain areas. However, both are so diminutive in nature that they’re of little relevance, not to mention overshadowed by the sheer quality of the overall presentation. The only audio option available is an English 5.1 DTS-HD track, but it’s all that you’re really going to need. It’s a track that’s always in motion, meaning that all of the speakers get a constant workout. Dialogue is always perfectly clear and relegated to the front for the most part. However, score and sound effects, in particular ambient activity, are constantly being shifted. It makes for an involving and immersive sound experience, with a copious amount of clarity, dynamics, and LFE activity. Subtitles are offered in English SDH, but unfortunately, there are zero extras to be had.
As the Marvel Netflix universe continues to unfold with season after season of show after show, it’ll be interesting to see what directions they push each of their characters. Luke Cage and Iron Fist were soon to follow up the second season of Daredevil, as well as his aforementioned participation in The Defenders, but it’ll be a curious time to see what elements are incorporated from the comics while trying to maintain the world that’s been created. The bottom line though is that if you’re any kind of a superhero fan, Daredevil is a must watch. Whether owning the show on Blu-ray is important to you will be a key decision in getting future Netflix shows on disc, something that is increasingly becoming something of an anomaly and could be a bad omen for said content. My gut feeling says to go out and support these releases. They may not be loaded with bells and whistles, but they’re absolutely stunning and solid presentations of a show that is definitely worth re-watching in a non-streaming environment.
- Tim Salmons