It was made clear this weekend amidst all the show cancellations that Daredevil was and still is the king of all Marvel-Netflix shows with the premiere of Season 3. This season came with a lot of surprises and jaw-dropping moments and we’re here to break them down.
Bullseye Saves the Convoy
The season may have opened with one of the slower episodes of the series but the second episode relentlessly grabs you by the throat when it sets the entire season’s tone with the Albanian’s attack on Wilson Fisk’s FBI escort. What starts out a seeming reenactment of Fisk’s escape from law enforcement in Season 1 ends with one the introduction of one of comics’ most iconic villains: Bullseye.
As we witness Fisk, in the rarest of instances, fear for his life under the ruins of an FBI convoy, in comes his knight in kevlar armor head-shooting Albanians and impaling them with knives from a distance. What I love about this scene is how in a manner of seconds, several aspects of Benjamin Poindexter’s personality are highlighted. They incorporate a bit of the stylized gun-fu popularized by the John Wick films in his introduction, highlighting the character’s meticulousness and obsession with structure. He never comes in guns blazing. Bullets are used economically and fired with a neatness no normal agent can replicate. An iconic introduction for an iconic character.
The Bulletin Brawl
It’s always a challenge to pick the best fight sequence in a show filled to the brim with them. Between the beautifully lit church fight between Bullseye and Daredevil or the climactic three-way fight between the two and Wilson Fisk, I ultimately had to go with the Bulletin Brawl.
There’s so much to love about this fight; the cinematography, choreography, the mid-game stakes of the season. It’s the first time Fisk ever unleashes Bullseye to the world. It’s an amazing callback to the Daredevil imposter in Born Again. It’s one of the more inventive fights in the series with its kinetic camera panning. It’s the first time Daredevil encounters a villain that actually poses a physical threat to him. It’s the perfect boiling point to the episodes leading up to it.
Karen Page: Origins
Karen Page in the MCU is an enigma, a far cry from her bubbly secretary-damsel personality in the comics. Hints about her dark past have been a constant with every Karen Page appearance and in Season 3, we’re given a glimpse at it. Turns out, our resident avocado sweetheart used to be a college junkie, spending her days getting wild with the crowd while peddling dope at parties, a subtle wink to Frank Miller’s controversial take on the character. Before Matt or Foggy, she had a douchenozzle for a friend. Yes, it’s hard to imagine our Karen as a soul deeply lost in vices but Deborah Ann Woll absolutely crushes this episode dedicated to her.
Karen’s backstory is nothing short of tragic. With no maternal figure to guide them, the Pages are left to salvage a dying diner and a troubled family. Paxton is naive and stubborn, blindly hoping that the diner will see better days when those days have long gone. Karen’s younger brother Kevin is a thoughtful, hardworking foil to her selfish streak. It’s a family dynamic that’s tailor-made for cutting drama, which the episode doesn’t hold back with. We finally get to see the first person she shoots a gun with and it’s none other than her asshole boyfriend.
The FBI Conspiracy
Fisk is so deep into everyone’s pockets that he probably has some dirt on Thanos. If Season 1 depicted Fisk as a man untouchable, Season 3 takes it up a notch by making him nearly omnipotent with access to almost anything in the government. In a twist that a lot of people saw coming and one I didn’t necessarily like, we learn halfway the show that Fisk has had the FBI in his pockets all along. He messed with Nadeem’s finances which in turn allowed him to eliminate his enemies through legal means. His blackmailing of all key FBI officials handling his case allowed him to live free without a hitch. My problem with this huge twist is that it muddles a lot of the complex procedural stuff that made the first half of the show so intricate and handwaves it into oblivion.
Page V. Fisk
There’s never a shortage of nail-biting showdowns in the MCU. Some showdowns are massive and loud like the Titan fight in Avengers: Infinity War. Some of them are contained and muted. Season 3 gives us one hell of a nail-biting showdown when Karen, stubborn as always, decides to go up Fisk’s room to give him a piece of her mind. It’s a battle of words between the two, with each retort more anxiety-inducing than the other. And what starts as an exchange of opinion and beliefs ends up as a very dark airing of secrets. This scene is a testament to Karen’s big balls and bravery, as misplaced as it is when she smugly admits her murder of James Wesley.
Deal with the Devil
It’s no coincidence that the best Daredevil stories have something to do with the outing of his identity. Frank Miller broke ground when he had Wilson Fisk act on this knowledge and Brian Michael Bendis took it to another level with he had Matt Murdock’s identity leak to the public.
The true identity of Daredevil is something Wilson Fisk has held dear for years. Because of his complex relationship with Matt Murdock, circumstances have ironically made it ideal for Fisk to keep the identity for himself rather than just let the world know. Daredevil Season 3 culminates with an impasse that echoes the years of turmoil between the two when they make a deal: let my friends live and I’ll let Vanessa live. It’s the boiling point of three seasons worth of stories and it pays off so cathartically. Even though it’s neither an absolute victory or defeat for Matt and Fisk – it never is and never will be – it does set the stage wonderfully on how these characters could interact in the future.
If there’s one constant in these shows, it’s that they’re filled with tons of fantastic performances. Even Iron Fist at its worst had great performances from David Wenham and Tom Pelphry. The stink of the Luke Cage Season 1 is a lot more palatable because of the weight Alfre Woodard and Mahershala Ali brought to their roles.
So much of Daredevil Season 3 is elevated simply because of the performances. The returning cast members all bring their A-game breathing life into characters we’ve grown to love. Elden Henson gets to shine brightly as Foggy grows to be an endearing source of hope, a massive step-up from the sulking cornball in previous seasons. Even Vincent D’Onofrio, whose performance gets cheesier and campier as Wilson Fisk settles into the Kingpin persona, still manages to imbue the role with gravitas that makes every line feel real. No other actor would have been able to make it work. And as always, Charlie Cox continues to be an extraordinary Matt Murdock as he plays the blind ninja at his lowest.
But to be honest, the performance highlights of the season aren’t from the returning cast. The best performances this season are all from the newcomers. Jay Ali as Ray Nadeem steals many of the scenes he’s in and is easily one of the most dynamic characters in all the shows. Described as the anchor and heart of the show by its writers, Ali plays Nadeem with such resolute and warmth that his defeat at the hands of a former ally is absolutely heartbreaking. Wilson Bethel‘s Ben Poindexter is a goddamn force of nature. The man who was once in the running to play Captain America gives Bullseye a depth never seen from the character. Bethel toes the line between needy child and psychopath brilliantly, never overdoing the extremes. He’s easily the best enforcer to come out of the MCU. And of course, you have Joanne Whaley playing Matt’s mother. She’s stern, vulnerable, yet unflinching at Whaley does a great job tying it all together.
What are you favorite moments this season? Let us know in the comments below!