After its second season tried to do a little too much, “Daredevil’s” season three — based on the classic “Born Again” storyline involving Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) redeeming himself from a ruined life — comes back to form. After the events of “The Defenders,” Murdock is left in a critical state with some of his senses impaired including going deaf in his right ear, leaving him unable to use his radar sense for spatial awareness. This one is an intense emotional trip as Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) returns. Daredevil’s limits are tested and the introduction of his classic enemy Benjamin Poindexter (Wilson Bethel) — better known as Bullseye in the comics — is coupled with a competent story and thrilling action as always.
Upon surviving the collapse of Midland Circle, Daredevil is taken to his church and attended to by nuns to protect his identity. After a few weeks of recovery, he realizes his heightened senses are gone. Murdock begins to question God and decides he must kill Fisk to end his reign, much to the disappointment of Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley). While Murdock has philosophical discussions about God and his life, Fisk continues to put together Daredevil’s real identity from season two and begins to endanger the lives of Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll).
This season has compelling villains to truly test Daredevil’s mettle. Fisk’s calm, collected nature and ability to predict his foes leaves him several steps ahead of Murdock, Page and Nelson. Rather than using violence, the group must figure out how to legally take down Fisk as he’s struck a deal with the FBI to be moved into house arrest from prison. As they look for evidence, Fisk continues to play his game of power and money, slowly gaining leverage against the FBI to regain his past possession. Rather than remaining in the trope of solely desiring power, his heart controls him and makes it obvious he’s doing everything he can to bring his love — Vanessa Marianna (Ayelet Zurer) — back into the US without her being arrested as an accomplice to his crimes in season one.
Poindexter’s introduction brings in the long-awaited villain. Outside of a fight, he has clear psychological issues including a desperate need for rules and approval to maintain being morally good. As Fisk begins to get in his head, Poindexter becomes more intimidating. He’s noticeably erratic and loses control of his rage. With his desire for approval comes a case of stalking a former suicide hotline worker he used to work with in the hopes that she would listen to him and help his mental stability in some manner. In fights, Poindexter proves his lethality as anything becomes a weapon in his hands with his pinpoint accuracy. What makes his fights both impressive yet silly, like in the comics, is his frequent decision to look a different direction than his target or bounce items like a snowglobe off a metal beam to nail someone in the head.
Each fight’s a brutal ordeal for anyone involved. Murdock struggles to take down even petty criminals after going in the streets too soon after his injuries. Each fight seems to leave Murdock with visible injuries. Even as he recovers more, Poindexter’s lack of emotion toward others further impedes Daredevil as he must struggle to protect those he cares about from Poindexter and Fisk.
These grueling fights cause Murdock to question his faith as he strongly desires to kill Fisk. His theological conversations are interesting as the lifelong Catholic begins to question part of what gives him such strong morals and willpower. Along with this comes Murdock’s identity crisis as he wishes to live solely as Daredevil to avoid caring for others and potentially put them in danger for his actions. Throughout the season, Murdock begrudgingly must gather information in his lawyer persona in his attempt to get closer to Fisk. Page and Nelson use this to try and convince Daredevil that balancing his two lives is the best option as he can take down criminals and leave them for the police to later deal with some in court.
With an emotional season forcing Murdock to look inward deeply, he shifts dramatically by attempting to answer these questions with his fists. Fascinating villains leave fans pleased with accurate and thought-provoking portrayals. Despite the quality of this season, it may be a sad goodbye for the series considering the recent cancellations after the second season of both “Iron Fist” and “Luke Cage” and their received praise.
Contact Caleb Barbachem at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.