Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is back. The only problem, he’s supposed to be dead.
As we all know from the comics dead rarely if ever equates to permanent death, and Murdock’s death in Marvel’s Daredevil Season 3 on Netflix also proves unreliable.
In the season opener, viewers find a battered Murdock returned to his roots beneath the church that offered him shelter as a boy. Quickly the audience realizes that it isn’t Murdock who is dead, but Daredevil.
Meanwhile, Kingpin Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) finds a way out of prison that looks protective on the outside, but like all things Fisk, every cover hides a more diseased layer below.
In an era of actual FBI bashing, the law enforcement manipulation disturbs more than it might in an earlier time. Fragile humans, Daredevil reminds its audience, make up the ranks of law enforcement. At the center of law enforcement’s compromising humans likes Rahul “Ray” Nadeem (Jay Ali) and perpetual Daredevil foe “Bullseye” FBI agent Benjamin ‘Dex’ Poindexter (Wilson Bethel), scripted here as a man suffering from grave and unresolved PTSD as well as an unhealthy attachment to various women in his life. Abstract dedication to the law and good intentions often fall in the face of more personal threats. The difference between a hero and a normal human being isn’t strength but an abnormal strength of character.
The contrast between Fisk’s resurrection and Murdock’s centers season 3. Fisk asserts his power, garners more comforts, regains control—while Murdock’s journey takes him toward self-realization. Neither evolution arrives in a straight line, and the dips and plateaus reach their apex at different times as power shifts along the fictional continuum.
The shifting of power arrives not from the accumulation of people and things, which Fisk focuses on, but on information. Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) chases information that ultimately leads to key leverage against Fisk, but not without a considerable cost to those around her. Foggy (Elden Henson) finds his power derives from connections as he anchors his contribution in political threats and deals.
Marvel and Netflix finally found a way to assert the early promise of Daredevil in season 3, not without the irony of abandonment of the character by Murdock, and the rise of an impersonator. New showrunner Erik Oleson crafted a tight season that gives all of its characters meaty contributions without relying on tangents. Everything in Season 3 adds up, including the need for revelations aimed at the idea of resilience (another key hero trait). Resilience does not just mean bouncing back from adversity, but a strengthening following the strain. Murdock
Season 3 makes a statement. For me, it created a yearning for a Season 4, which hopefully the machinations between Netflix and the new Disney streaming service work out. While no one in the fictional world could dispose of Luke Cage or Iron Fist, both were easily dispatched by press releases announcing the cancelation of both. Hopefully Daredevil will find a way to battle through.
In much of Season 3, Murdock tried to distance himself from his usual associates in Karen and Foggy, with most of the early season finding them thinking him dead (though Karen had a feeling he wasn’t). With reconciliation, the renewed triumvirate has plenty of stories to tell. Perhaps its time for these three to spend some outwitting another three in Dark Messiah and his disciples. But most likely, we’ll see Bullseye find his footing as an archenemy, not just as a tool for Kingpin.
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