The following article contains spoilers.
It’s the final episode and you’re waiting for Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal). He’s out there somewhere, in final black leather and white skull form. He’s going to pop bullets in some ninjas at any moment. The show needs that inevitable winning shot it’s denied us all season: Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Punisher, Elektra (Elodie Yung), all together. The anticipation builds. And it builds. It keeps building, until it doesn’t happen. The Punisher shows up, grunts “See you around, Red.” And then he’s gone.
The second year of Marvel’s Daredevil, a very solid superhero series that flits from interpersonal legal drama to a Shaw Brothers’ flick, ends precisely how a show of its caliber should, refusing to indulge in typical superhero aesthetics. Though it may disappoint fanboys yearning for a trifecta of costumed heroes, it’s the perfect ending for a show as exceptional as Daredevil.
The final portion of Season 2, episodes 9 thru 13, expectedly ups the stakes with returning characters and settings from Season 1 to add mystery, depth, and unity. Yes, that means Vincent D’onofrio, Wai Ching Ho, and Peter Shinkoda return as villains Kingpin, Madame Gao, and Nobu, respectively, because they all rocked, and we crave more of them. And more we get.
In fact, “more” is the engine that drives the final leg of the season. There’s more action than I recall in the first season (though nothing reaches the caliber of the Episode 3 stairway fight), there’s more history with Stick (Scott Glenn) and his ancient “war.” There’s even more to Elektra and Matt beyond her established role as the brunette Veronica to Karen’s (Deborah Ann Woll) blonde Betty (a totally tired trope). But with so much more, there’s perhaps too much for the series to juggle.
It’s no mistake Daredevil divided its first eight episodes into clean pieces, its two new heroes bringing two stories to the table. If Daredevil wasn’t just one part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe tapestry, Frank Castle’s family murders would absolutely be mixed in with Elektra’s massive conspiracy. But Daredevil is just one part of the MCU machine, so Punisher and Elektra stay two separate trains that never cross tracks. Their only link is Blacksmith (spoiler alert: It’s Colonel Schoonover, played by Clancy Brown), and even his death only scratches the surface.
For Marvel fans, the teasing promise of tomorrow is always meant to inspire hype and momentum. But for those who care about the MCU, it’s maddening when major threads are left dangling and Daredevil leaves maybe too many mid-breath, mid-conversation.
But there’s no hero shot. There’s no whisking away the bad guy in a cop car. There’s no victorious brooding on a rooftop. There’s some corny voice over from Karen, yeah, but it’s the kind of cheesiness that works with Daredevil’s general rebellion. Daredevil doesn’t end with brooding shots against sun rises, it just ends.
Improbably, it’s better that way.