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Daredevil – Guilty as Sin (Review)

This month, we’re doing daily reviews of the second season of Daredevil. Check back daily for the latest review.

Part of what is so infuriating about the second season of Daredevil is that fact that there is a lot of good material here.

The issue is nothing as simple as saying “good ideas, terrible execution”, or anything as trite. There are good ideas that are executed well and bad ideas that are handled with a surprisingly deft touch; there are also good ideas that are needlessly squandered and bad ideas that turn out to be exactly as terrible as they initially appear. It isn’t even that there are clearly discernible unambiguous flaws. Everything is a mix. For all the issues with the writing of the Punisher and Elektra, Jon Bernthal and Elodie Yung do great work with the material afforded to them.

Let us pray...

Let us pray…

The second season of Daredevil is very much a curate’s egg of a television season. There are good bits and bad bits. There is breathtaking ambition and incredible miscalculation in equal measure. The series is not entirely a failure, but it is far from a success. With Guilty as Sin, the show clumsily repositions itself as a morality play about the conflict between good and evil within the soul as Elektra Natchios. However, there is a similar conflict brewing at the heart of the show.

Even in the season’s strongest moments, there are clear weaknesses shining through. Even in the season’s weakest moments, its strongest elements are frequently in play.

Eye see.

Eye see.

Guilty as Sin works a lot better than it really should, particularly given that it has been handed the disastrous “trial of Frank Castle” plot thread from Semper Fidelis. The show continues to pander to the weaknesses of that particular plot thread, focusing on the least flattering aspects of this particular iteration of Frank Castle. As if to reassure viewers that Frank Castle is really just a grieving husband and father – and certainly nothing more unsettling than that – an expert witness even shows up to explain that it is “as if he is reliving the trauma over and over again.”

This allows the show to have its cake and eat it with regards to the characterisation of the Punisher. After all, one of the more unsettling aspects of the character is the fact that the roaring rampage that began with the murder of his family has raged unabated for over forty long years. At some point, if he were killing for revenge or retribution, he would have enough. Instead, the fact that he keeps going makes the character more mysterious and intriguing. Rather than playing into that, Guilty as Sin suggests an easy way of writing around it. That wound is always fresh.

Lighten up, Matt...

Lighten up, Matt…

Similarly, Guilty as Sin continues to humanise Frank Castle in the most overt and cliché manner possible. The sequence where the son of one of his victims has an outburst in court is a stock scene in stories like this; it is the easiest way to remind viewers of the consequences of Frank’s actions. However, even more frustrating than the outburst is Frank’s response to the outburst. As with Frank’s conversation with Matt in New York’s Finest or with Karen in Regrets Only, Frank seems to doubt himself. “That kid, I took his father from him.”

Guilty as Sin also stresses the difficulties facing the show in writing for Elektra. Frank Miller’s character requires a lot of reworking for the modern era, existing as a stereotype of superhero sex who dies so that her ex-boyfriend can have angst issues. The Daredevil production team talked about affording Elektra her own agency, about making her nobody’s victim. However, Guilty as Sin not only robs Elektra of her agency by having her pin her self-respect upon Matt, it also retroactively erodes her independence by revealing that she was sent by Stick to seduce Matt.

Browned off...

Browned off…

Again, Guilty as Sin leans into the clichés in this storytelling. Confronting Elektra about her allegiance to Stick, Matt challenges, “When we met, was it fate, or was it luck, or was I a mission?” Elektra relates about how Stick used her as an effort to win Matt back to the eternal war. Elektra sorrowfully confesses, “I did the thing I promised him I would never do: I fell in love with you.” There is even a slow and sad variant on the theme music playing, as if to underscore how emotional all of this must be. It is trite.

Again, this is an example of how the second season’s greatest strengths and weaknesses are intertwined. The second season of Daredevil is unashamedly “comic-book-y” in its plotting. It is probably the most traditionally-plotted superhero show on Marvel’s slate, playing as a grim version of The Flash. The show takes great pleasure in hitting all of those pulpy beats, without trying to subvert them or undercut them or fashion them into something particularly relevant.

This is really going to stain the leather...

This is really going to stain the leather…

So this leads to poor decisions like a reluctance to engage with Frank Castle as anything but another superhero in search of an origin story and an effort to steer Elektra away from the more problematic aspects of Frank Miller’s portrayal towards a more generic sexist cliché. However, it also leads to surprisingly effective executions of old genre standards like the “good girl”/“bad girl” contrast between Karen Page and Elektra Natchios in Kinbaku and the prison that exists under the thumb of Wilson Fisk in Seven Minutes in Heaven. Ridiculous, but a fun ridiculous.

Guilty as Sin represents a turning point for the season. It is the point at which the season’s two major plot threads part company. The opening third of the season found Matt Murdock thrown into conflict with Frank Castle. The next stretch of episodes found Matt struggling to balance the Castle trial with his reunion with Elektra, the show struggling as much as its protagonist. However, Guilty as Sin is the episode that makes it clear that Matt and Frank are on two very different paths for the remainder of the season.

Straight to the point.

Straight to the point.

To be fair, there are moments of overlap. The climax of .380 features the season’s next (and final) conversation between Matt and Frank. However, Frank shows up to offer moral (and tactical) support at the climax of A Cold Day in Hell’s Kitchen. However, for better or worse, Guilty as Sin marks the point at which Frank Castle stops being a supporting figure in Matt’s story and becomes a protagonist in his own parallel narrative that will lead him further on his quest to avenge his family and design a superhero uniform.

One of the shrewder aspects of Guilty as Sin is the way that the episode suggests a thematic cohesion to the season as whole. Watching Guilty as Sin, it still seems possible that everything might come back together in a manner more elegant and organic than Frank Castle nodding knowingly as he watches Daredevil fight some ninjas. The character interactions and dynamics in Guilty as Sin suggest a strong thematic undercurrent that ties all of the big plot and character beats together.

The blind leading the witness.

The blind leading the witness.

The first half of the second season of Daredevil is fond of comparing and contrasting the two vigilantes at its centre. New York’s Finest was structured as a debate over the morality of killing, with Frank asserting that Matt was “one bad day” away from becoming a murderer. Matt and Karen’s argument about Frank in Semper Fidelis was an expression of several unmentioned character beats, particularly Matt’s insistence that he is different from Frank. Even in Guilty as Sin, Foggy suggests to Matt, “You’re here because you’re almost as crazy as Frank Castle.”

However, Guilty as Sin seems to imply that perhaps there is a stronger underlying connection between the world in which Matt lives and that inhabited by Frank Castle. As Guilty as Sin picks up the threads seeded during Stick in the first season, it suggests that Matt is caught in the middle of a perpetual and unending conflict that has taken many forms across the millennia. Stick was not training Matt as a superhero, he was training Matt as a soldier to fight in that hypothetical war.

Stick with it.

Stick with it.

Stick adopts a Hobbesian perspective on human existence, suggesting that life itself is a constant battle. Discussing the near-mythic origin of the Hand, Stick reflects that they date from a time when “warlords and their countrymen ruled the countryside. Not that much different from today.” He talks about wealth and power and sex as the motivators of violence and cruelty, suggesting that little has changed in the years since the Hand first emerged. “Same old, same old,” he reflects.

Stick talks in abstract terms about the war he wages. Matt discounts its very existence. “I think there is no war, I think you’re a sick old man,” Matt insists, bluntly. According to Matt, Stick is an old man who has effectively invented a war so that he can continue to fight. The parallels seem quite obvious. Frank Castle is also a man who has fashioned his own unending war in abstract terms. Of course, Guilty as Sin suffers from the season’s general reluctance to discuss Frank’s behaviour in those terms, but the implication is there.

"Don't worry, I'm just leading them into a false sense of security!"

“Don’t worry, I’m just leading them into a false sense of security!”

There is also implicit social commentary buried in that comparison between two men who have fashioned their own wars to allow them to do what they want. The second season of Daredevil has worked very hard to avoid politicising Frank Castle, but it does so through the comparison to Stick. After all, many viewers can empathise with the idea of living in the shadow of a perpetual and abstract war. Consider Rachel Maddow discussing the War on Terror:

“We have always held prisoners in wartime, and obviously we have always killed people in wartime,” she said. “That’s not what is weird now. What is weird now is that we are doing those things right now, this year for twelve years now, as part of a war that we say is a worldwide war in which the only declared combatant country is us. We have been at war before as a country. The reason we agonize now, the reason we agonize over how we are at war now is because the generally accepted precepts of war that make us relatively OK holding prisoners without trial and killing people without trial are those are precepts that also assume that war is a thing that has an end, after which the prisoners go home, after which we have to arrested people and try them without just targeting them and shooting them from afar.”

The question of whether the War on Terror will (or can) have an ending has long been discussed. After all, how can an abstract concept like “Terror” ever truly be defeated? The existence and nature of the War on Terror (as well as the War on Crime or the War on Drugs) suggests a new model of warfare; one that only requires a single declared combatant waging a sustained assault upon an abstract opponent.

Yes, the War on Terror comparisons stretch as far as Matt borrowing Jack Bauer's catchphrase, "Who are you working for?!"

Yes, the War on Terror comparisons stretch as far as Matt borrowing Jack Bauer’s catchphrase, “Who are you working for?!”

Guilty as Sin reinforces this idea in its portrayal of the conflict between the Chaste and the Hand. In particular, Guilty as Sin frames that conflict in terms that evokes the War on Terror. The Marvel Netflix shows are very consciously and tangibly rooted in New York, in a way that goes beyond the stubborn refusal to digitally erase the MetLife building to make room for the fictional Stark Tower. Jessica Jones luxuriated in the city, from making the MTA a plot point in AKA You’re a Winner! to putting Jessica atop the Brooklyn Bridge in AKA Top Shelf Perverts.

Even the second season of Daredevil is consciously framed in terms of New York history. Bang seems to place the show in the context of the summer of 1977, a tumultuous time for the city. The jury statements at the start of Semper Fidelis explicitly compare Frank Castle to New York boogeymen like Son of Sam or Bernie Goetz. So it makes sense that a story focusing on a perpetual and abstract conflict set in New York would come with a healthy dose of 9/11 imagery that goes beyond Frank Castle’s ambiguous service record.

Like a ninja...

Like a ninja…

To be fair, the 9/11 imagery is not a surprise of itself. It seems that every superhero (or every blockbuster) film occurs in the shadow of that real-life trauma, from The Avengers to Man of Steel. However, it is interesting (although perhaps not surprising) that Daredevil makes a point to tie that imagery to an apocalyptic ninja death cult. Guilty as Sin introduces its abstract conceptual war with a shot of Matt and Elektra gazing at a giant hole in the middle of Manhattan. That is still a powerful image, even a decade-and-a-half later.

That hole in the ground changes everything for Matt Murdock. It changes the way that he sees the world. It reveals new enemies. The parallels are striking. Even the language with which Stick describes his perpetual war evokes 9/11 and the start of the War on Terror. “The bottom line is that the city you are sworn to protect is ground zero in a war it doesn’t even know exists.” Not only does Stick use the words “ground zero” in relation to New York, but he also draws attention to the surprising nature of the looming war to the city’s inhabitants.

Brothers in law.

Brothers in law.

Of course, this is quite a heavy bit of symbolism to put on the Hand, a cult of undead ninja assassins. The Hand are pure pulp, and tying them to the iconography of 9/11 could easily seem distasteful or absurd. However, providing the comparison between Stick and Frank Castle makes it clear that this is a much larger theme. Guilty as Sin is interested in the idea of what it means to live and breath unending war. The show’s reluctance to engage with the idea of Frank as the ultimate soldier weakens the thread slightly, but it is still there.

Guilty as Sin also marks the revelation that the Hand are to be the big villains of the season. This is not really a surprise. Stick had seeded the idea about half-way through the first season, a suggestion cemented by Nobu’s costuming choice in Speak of the Devil. It also makes sense given how the show has come to fetishise Frank Miller. Outside of Elektra herself, the Hand is one of Frank Miller’s most enduring original creations. Miller introduced the group in the pages of Daredevil before bringing them to Wolverine. They have endured ever since.

Hell's Kitchen really does welcome diverse cultures.

Hell’s Kitchen really does welcome diverse cultures.

The Hand are an absurd concept, but fit quite comfortably within the pulpy aesthetic of the show. When people talk about Frank Miller’s contribution to comic books, the discussion tends to focus on the idea that Frank Miller helped the medium to “grow up” by increasing the amount of sex and violence in titles. There is some debate about whether the majority of Miller’s work might be better classed as “adult” or “adolescent”, but the broad consensus on Miller is that he was one of the artists and writers responsible for proving the cliché that comic books were “not just for kids.”

It is easy to understand why this might be. Frank Miller is a writer who likes a bit of brutality in his comics, drawing kinetic fight sequences that push well beyond the superhero conventions. More than that, Miller infuses his work with a raw political edge that embraces and exploits the authoritarian subtext bubbling beneath the surface of the superhero. His work like The Dark Knight Returns, 300 and Sin City are definitely not aimed at children. That is before delving into larger issues like his notorious portrayal of female characters.

"They should really put a rail around that."

“They should really put a rail around that.”

Still, it is reductive to argue that Frank Miller is a writer primarily concerned with the “maturity” of his work. It falls back on the old cliché that true artists are entirely serious and mature, and that art defined as mature is inherently superior to that which is not. Miller did push American comics in bold new directions, and some of those directions were mature. After all, it is The Dark Knight Returns that largely codified the differences between icons like Batman and Superman as a reflection of deeper political and ideological divisions.

However, there is also a decidedly impish and playful side to Miller’s writing. For all the focus on The Dark Knight Returns making Batman gritty again, Miller is arguably just riffing on Alan West’s take on the character. Miller has talked about wanting to write a children’s book, and there’s an argument to be made that some of his more controversial later work like All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is a hilarious self-aware parody of the sort of comic books that Miller helped to popularise.

Bloody 'ell...

Bloody ‘ell…

While Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil brought a maturity and psychological realism to a fairly two-dimensional character, it also brought great action sequences and ninjas. Lots of ninjas. When it comes to discussing Frank Miller’s early work, it is worth acknowledging the debt that he owes to comic book legend Will Eisner:

“When I was 14 years old, I stopped reading comic books because I’d discovered girls and all of those things that are a part of real life,” says Miller. “Then I came across an edition of The Spirit and it just exploded in front of my eyes. I thought ‘This brand new guy must be the head of the class, he must be the newest, most exciting artist in comics!’ – it was dated 1940! I delved into it and found out what creator Will Eisner had done and realised he had always remained ahead of his time. I studied him a great deal.”

Eisner is a hugely important figure, one responsible for bringing comic books out of the ghetto and into the mainstream with genuinely literary works like A Contract with God or Fagin the Jew. However, while these are massively important texts, Eisner’s most widely read and accessible work remains The Spirit.

"Shut up, ya numbskull..."

“Shut up, ya numbskull…”

A series of eight-page comic strips syndicated in various newspapers between 1940 and 1952, The Spirit was a pulpy thrill-ride following a resurrected police detective who donned a ridiculous domino mask to fight crime. However, Eisner used that set-up for storytelling experimentation and social commentary. Miller’s work on Daredevil was largely inspired by what Eisner had done while writing and illustrating The Spirit:

I never planned to draw superheroes. My favorite genre has always been crime fiction. So there I was, bugging New York publishers with a very young version of what would become Sin City many years later – and there the editors were, explaining that all they published were guys in tights. It was adapt or die time, so I adapted. With Daredevil I found the perfect vehicle: The hero’s signature feature is an impairment. He’s blind. I was able to do my kind of crime comics. I followed the example of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. He gave his hero a mask to keep the publisher happy. Me, I had a blind guy in red tights.

Like I said, I stole from the best.

The influence of The Spirit on Frank Miller’s Daredevil was keenly felt. Most obviously, Miller himself has acknowledged that Elektra was directly inspired by Will Eisner’s Sand Seref. Both The Spirit and Daredevil are essentially noir comics with superhero trappings. There is even a sense that Will Eisner’s portrayal of “Central City” has bled into Frank Miller’s depiction of New York; an urban jungle… or an existential prison.

"Don't worry. Only five more episodes."

“Don’t worry. Only five more episodes.”

However, Eisner’s influence bubbles through into Miller’s style. There is a solid argument to be made that Miller’s greatest innovation in plotting Daredevil was the structuring of his panels to pace a story. It was a technique relatively uncommon in superhero stories, but which was something Eisner had used repeatedly and to great effect. Miller would offer a series of tightly-cropped panels to build suspense and to allow characters to react to the action. The panels seemed to get smaller and more restrictive.

Comics critic Tim Callahan has wryly noted Miller was the rare artist to increase the number of panels-per-page when taking over a book as writer. However, Miller also appropriated Eisner’s gift for dynamic action. While Frank Miller gets a lot of credit for bringing psychological nuance to characters like Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, it is easy to overlook the simple visceral thrills of his work on Daredevil. Frank Miller can construct a dynamic action sequence like nobody else. However, every action sequence needs participants.

Sticks and stones...

Sticks and stones…

There is a sense that the creation of the Hand was a purely pragmatic decision. Frank Miller needed bodies for his impressive action sequences, and ninjas were far more exciting than stock mobsters while being more numerous than supervillains. To be fair, Miller has a deep-seated affection for the idea of Japanese culture in general and ninjas in particular; quite notably, after he finished up his run on Daredevil at Marvel, he moved over to DC to writer Ronin. However, it can often seem like the Hand exist because ninja are fun to draw.

This is the other side of Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil, the side that is far removed from gritty storytelling and grim cynicism. Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil didn’t just inspire a slew of later writers like Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker to turn Matt Murdock’s life into a perpetual living hell, it also inspired Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird to create The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Not only do the Turtles share an origin with Daredevil, the Foot Clan is named for the Hand and Splinter is named for Stick. Frank Miller’s ninjas had a lasting and goofy influence.

Punishing the Punisher...

Punishing the Punisher…

The second season of Daredevil is very comfortable with the sillier side of the Hand. While Matt might repeatedly reject the organisation’s pseudo-mysticism, the show alludes quite heavily to the idea that at least some of the Hand are zombies. (Ed Brubaker has insisted that the Hand have a diverse recruiting agenda.) “There’s no heartbeat, there’s nothing I can focus on,” Matt reflects early in Guilty as Sin. That could just be meditation, but .380 suggests that at least some of the Hand have endured autopsies. (Although at least one here is living and breathing.)

There is nothing wrong with this. Ninja are fun to draw, and fun to watch. They are a cliché, but there are a fun cliché to pile in on top of a superhero show that is already channelling a healthy amount of superhero noir. The use of the Hand in Stick and Speak of the Devil was a delightful swerve in the middle of the first season, a very odd element to pile on top of what was a standard (but superbly executed) superheroes-versus-mobsters storyline. It is great fun to watch them in Guilty as Sin, with the show committing wholeheartedly to the idea after teasing it in Regrets Only.

Talk a stabbing pain...

Talk a stabbing pain…

The second season has quite a few gaps in logic. The mechanics of what the Hand are actually trying to accomplish and how they plan to achieve it represent some of the biggest leaps. Most notably, the Hand are completely covert during the first half of the season; however, as soon as Matt and Elektra face them in Guilty as Sin, the Hand are everywhere. In fact, Guilty as Sin opens with a ninja car chase through Hell’s Kitchen while A Cold Day in Hell’s Kitchen features ninjas taking on the New York Police Department.

Internally, this makes no real sense. If the Hand had worked so hard to remain a secret, why are they suddenly committing such ostentatious crimes on such a public scale? After all, the point at which the bad guys evolve from the Yakuza into the Hand seems to be the point at which Daredevil should probably stand aside and make room for Iron Man. Hydra is an apocalyptic death cult that traces its roots back to the Second World War, and they bother Captain America. The Hand stretches back even further and may raise the dead.

To the devil, his due...

To the devil, his due…

Of course, a lot of these logic gaps are excused quite easily. Daredevil has just committed to the idea of undead ninja assassins waging an ancient war in Hell’s Kitchen. Attempting to segue from a story about a character Foggy nicknamed “Dumbass with a Gun” into a ninja apocalypse earns the show a lot of credit. And it excuses the weird ubiquity these undead ninja assassins from the teaser of Guilty as Sin straight through to the climax of A Cold Day in Hell’s Kitchen.

Still, it does feel like the mechanics driving Daredevil have become visible. Guilty as Sin is the eighth episode of the season. Quite pointedly, it is the first of the six episodes not to be screened for critics before the release of the whole season. The three-act formula is not the only clever structural trick played by the production team. The last of the episodes screened for critics, Semper Fidelis deliberately ends on something of an anticlimax, with Elektra and Matt staring at a gaping hole in the ground. The opening moments of Guilty as Sin change the dynamic of the season.

Great Scott!

Great Scott!

The ninja attack upon Matt and Elektra would have made a much more striking cliffhanger to Semper Fidelis. However, moving the attack to the teaser of Guilty as Sin allows the show to preserve the secret even longer. The same is true of reserving Scott Glenn’s appearance until Guilty as Sin rather than teasing it in Semper Fidelis. This is particularly true of Wilson Fisk’s appearance at the very end of Guilty as Sin, a spoiler the show is so eager to conceal that it even bumps Vincent D’Onofrio out of the opening credits to preserve the surprise.

There are other more modest reveals contained within Guilty as Sin. Most obviously, the episode reveals that practically everything the audience has known about Elektra to this point in the show is a lie. More than that, it becomes apparent that the primary antagonist of the series is not going to be Frank Castle, but is instead the Hand. Although Regrets Only hinted strongly in that direction, this is the first time that they are explicitly named. It is also the first time that Stick articulates his back story.

Matt finish...

Matt finish…

This is a very telling way of structuring the show. After all, the critics provided with screeners are all forced to sign very restrictive embargoes that prevent them from revealing “spoilers” before the release date. It is a sign of how spoiler-phobic the times have become, that the season seems structure to preserve so many surprises from reviewers who have all explicitly promised not to reveal any of the season’s twists ahead of time. There is something quite cheeky about this, with the show effectively holding several key cards from those reviewing before the show’s debut.

There is a larger debate to be had about the respective merits of spoiler culture, about how a person’s desire to experience something with minimal expectations must be weighed against others’ right to discuss and debate popular culture. All too often, it seems like the cry of “spoilers!” is employed as a weapon, a silencing cry to be bandied against those who actually want to discuss the material elements of a piece of pop culture instead of addressing that culture in the broadest (and most ambiguous) of terms.

Oh, I just can't wait to be King(pin)...

Oh, I just can’t wait to be King(pin)…

After all, banning discussion of “spoilers!” serves as an effective barricade against the specificity of criticism. It is one thing to state that the second season of Daredevil lacks a strong central villain, which could itself be considered something of a spoiler. However, that argument holds more weight – and carries more legitimacy – if the critic can point out the Wilson-Fisk-shaped hole in the centre of the season and acknowledge that the Hand are effectively a bunch of generic foot soldiers.

This is to say nothing of the difficulty in defining what exactly a “spoiler” is. Is it a really a “spoiler” to acknowledge that the second season of Daredevil features an appearance from Wilson Fisk? After all, the Kingpin of Crime is a quintessential Daredevil character. Is it a “spoiler” to say that Frank Castle kills criminals? Or to point out that this iteration is particularly tied to the criminals responsible for the death of his family rather than crime in general? Or is a spoiler to point out that making the death of the Castle family into a conspiracy undermines the character?

Screaming bloody murder...

Screaming bloody murder…

While there is a broader debate to be had about spoiler culture, the structuring of Guilty as Sin around those spoilers suggests the mechanics of the season’s plotting. Events in the world of Daredevil occasionally feel forced or stilted; they are not really driven by the characters or the world, instead somewhat forced by what the writers and production team need in a given moment. That is the real reason why the Hand drop all subterfuge after Guilty as Sin, because the audience now knows their involvement. That is why all these reveals come at this point in the year.

Occasionally, that utilitarian approach to plotting shows in smaller (but no less revealing) ways. Even within Guilty as Sin, Elektra feels as much a pawn of the writers as she is of Stick. This is particularly true during the fight sequence where Matt subdues the ninja who attacks him in his apartment. Not only does Matt reflect that his would-be-assassin is “just a kid”, Matt has actually managed to subdue his opponent. Only then does Elektra appear and slit the young boy’s throat.

A disarming guest appearance.

A disarming guest appearance.

This is an important character beat for Elektra, demonstrating that she is a killer. However, the scene is structured in the most awkward way. Unlike her attempt at a killing stroke in the teaser or her thwarted-by-lack-of-ammo attempt at a killshot in Regrets Only, it seems ridiculous that Elektra could not control her bloodlust. After all, she knows that Matt does not kill and she knows that Matt does not approve of her killing. Slitting a subdued foe’s throat is not a reflex or instinct. Showing restraint in that particular instant demonstrates ridiculous lack of willpower.

Then again, this is a great example of how the season’s strengths and weaknesses are inexorably linked. The same impulse that offers the audience a gluttony of surprise twists eight hours into a binge also accounts for Elektra’s inability to refrain from murdering a captive teenager.

You might be interested in our other reviews of the second season of Daredevil:

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