BANG – 8.5/10.
The long wait is finally over and the man without fear has returned to our screens. A lot has changed in Hell’s Kitchens since Matt Murdock first donned his red suit to take down crime boss Wilson Fisk, AKA Kingpin. While the city has a new defender in the form of Daredevil, that doesn’t mean that Hell’s Kitchen is now crime free. Instead several criminal organisations are vying to fill the vacuum left behind in Kingpin’s absence. One such group is the Irish Mafia, who under their patriarch, Mr Nesbitt, aims to seize control of the city. But nothing comes of Nesbitt’s grand plans as the entire gang is viciously gunned down at a meeting. Only one man survives the assault, a low level thug named Grotto, who seeks the protection and legal counsel of Nelson & Murdock.
A lot has changed for Matt and Foggy; the rift caused by Matt’s nocturnal activities seems to have healed but Foggy still worries for the safety of his best friend. Their practice is now thriving, although most of their clients can’t afford to pay their fees. In an attempt to forget their money troubles they head to Josie’s Bar with Karen, who now runs the office. It’s here that they encounter a wounded and desperate Grotto. He asks them to help broker a witness protection deal with the DA’s office to keep him safe from the ‘army’ that is hunting him. While Karen takes the Grotto to hospital, Foggy and Matt investigate the scene of the Irish massacre. There they discover that this is not an isolated incident, someone has been waging war on the criminal underworld.
Foggy and Matt hit the streets looking for information on the new players in town. While Foggy has a close call with a biker gang who recently lost men to the ‘army’, Daredevil has a very physical conversation with Turk, a small time crook who tells him about a Cartel arms deal going down at a meat factory. By the time Daredevil arrives at the location it is already a ghost town and the weapons are gone. He eventually finds the cartel members murdered and hung up on hooks in the meat freezer. There is one survivor, who uses his dying breath to tell Matt that it wasn’t an army that did this, it was one man. That very same man now stalks Karen and Grotto through the hospital, eliminating anyone who gets in his way with brutal force. His name is Frank Castle and he is The Punisher.
Karen and Grotto barely manage to escape the hospital; Frank tracks them with his sniper rifle but is attacked by Daredevil before he can take his shot. The two men fight it out on the rooftops. Frank’s fighting style may lack finesse but he proves to be more than a match for Matt, with Daredevil barely managing to dodge Punisher’s bullets. While Matt may fight by a strictly non-lethal code, Punisher clearly doesn’t share the sentiment. After being beaten down to the ground, Frank pulls a gun on Daredevil. He smiles as he fires a round at Matt’s head, sending him stumbling over the edge of the roof towards the ground below. If this season is going to be a straight up fight then it appears as if round one has most definitely gone to The Punisher.
Well that was quite the season premiere! Season 1 took it’s time in introducing the main antagonist; we didn’t even see Wilson Fisk until episode 4. This is not the case here as we got to witness The Punisher in full force and he did not disappoint. The casting for Daredevil has been consistently excellent and Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll and Eldon Hanson continue to deliver pitch perfect performances as Matt, Karen and Foggy. Jon Berthnal certainly looks the part as Punisher and he most definitely delivers on the action sequences, but Frank Castle is more than just a sociopath (sort of) and it will be interesting to see what Berthnal can do with the character. There is a lot more to come this season, Frank is just one small piece of a huge puzzle that will now begin to assemble itself over the next episodes.
As with last season, Daredevil is a show that is beautifully constructed; from the atmospheric camera work that perfectly captures the city, to the frankly astounding fight choreography. Everything has a gritty, hyper realistic feel that makes this world seem all the more believable even when it is at its most ludicrous. The benefit of a second season is that you don’t have to waste much time getting to know the main players and that resulted in a fast paced premiere that threw us straight into the action. The episode started with Matt easily taking down a gang of jewel thieves, demonstrating just how confident he has become in his abilities. But can that confidence survive his battle with Punisher? There’s only one way to find out; time for round two.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- The Daredevil suit definitely looks a lot better this season. The mask fits Charlie Cox’ face better and the body mould seems less awkward.
- One of the dead Irishmen was missing a hand; Punisher has never been one to take trophies unless they served a purpose.
- While the reveal of Punisher in episode was huge, I can’t help but wonder if they may hold off on bringing Elektra and The Hand in to the mix as well.