After the debut of Iron Fist’s Season 1, the Netflix shows of Marvel found themselves in a major slump and it seemed to include all the shows. Some would argue that the slump began with the second half of Luke Cage’s first season, but it seemed highly unlikely that Daredevil or any other show would be able to put a stop to it. This was especially true considering The Defenders only garnered a little praise, even though it included the character or Matt Murdock and ended the two-season story of the Hand. There is no denying that The Defenders was nothing less than a narrative misfire.
Despite that, the expectations from the fight seasons in the third season were quite high. For whatever reason, Daredevil has somehow managed to outclass its peers, which include Iron Fist, even though it should have had some of the best fight scenes due to its stunning set pieces. As a matter of fact, even the smaller brawls that are showcased on Daredevil are considerably better than the bigger fight scenes shown in other shows. Plus, fan excitement had reached the top because Bullseye was being added to the mix. Suffice it to say, great action was expected and that’s exactly what the season delivered.
As a matter of fact, the fight scenes of the third season managed to outdo those in the first and second ones. Furthermore, Bullseye, as FBI agent Ben Pointdexter, in his ‘proto’ form is certainly a good addition. But, even without Wilson Bethel’s Dex, the show includes a one-take 10-minute prison riot in the fourth episode, Blindsided. When it comes to unique standoffs and fisticuffs, this show can definitely be relied upon. The story also manages to deliver what is expected from it. After the collapse of the Midland Circle and Matt’s near death experience, the third season of Daredevil starts slow.
However, when you compare it with other Marvel’s Netflix seasons, you realize it is not that slow. Sure, Daredevil’s third season does have a bit of bloat with 13 episodes, but it is not a lot. Some scenes are stretched out and some are not needed at all as the ideas are constantly retreaded, but in the end, you get some serious dividends. Even the somewhat early conversations between Agent Ray Nadeem and his boss where the former asks for advice about keeping things from his son comes back into play in a rather dark way.
Initially, it was difficult to feel much for Nadeem as he took a ton of screen time, but once it was revealed in the ninth episode that Fisk murdered Hattley’s child to keep her in control, it changed the shape of the whole season. There are a number of reasons why the third season of Daredevil works so well. First, the dynamic of the characters like Matt/Foggy/Karen is quite compelling and complex. As the central character of the show, Matt is constantly pushing everyone away whereas Foggy and Karen are layered and vulnerable characters that have a lot of courage.
This doesn’t mean that they don’t try to run every now and then because they are scared, but deep down, they are all about justice. At times, all three heroes can be polarizing, but the actors seem to have done an exceptional job when it comes to straddling the line. Therefore, it is not surprising to know that even when they are most obstinate, fans still end up rooting for them. Secondly, Wilson Fisk has returned for the entire season and this is a good thing because he is one of the best villains in the MCU.
Over the course of its three seasons, Daredevil has made Fisk monstrous and yet the audience still ends up feeling some flashes of sympathy for him. The barely contained rage demonstrated by Vincent D’Onfrio, which is eventually unleashed in the last few episodes, accurately paints Fisk as a meticulous individual obsessed with manipulation and control. You cannot help but question his love for Vanessa as his primary motive, but it returns in the end with full vengeance and humanizes him in a spectacular way. He doesn’t just serve as a genius villain; he is the original sin that Karen, Foggy and Matt all feel responsible for.
Another reason the season has done an excellent job is the fact that for 9 episodes it manages to maintain the mystery of what Fisk s planning. The second episode threw everyone off as Fisk was attacked and he was quite vulnerable so obviously he was not pulling the strings, even though the heroes insisted. But, in the fourth episode, when he is in FBI custody, Fisk manages to launch a full-scale prison attack on Matt and by the ninth episode, it becomes quite apparent how deeply rooted his schemes and plans are.
The mystery arc is the major reason that holds up the middle of season three and piques the interest of the audience, especially after the fight between Daredevil and fake Daredevil in the sixth episode. An emotional and thoughtful addition to the series is Joanne Whalley’s sister, Maggie. Her connection to Matt definitely delivers a gut punch, but it doesn’t destroy Matt enough to make him useless for a few chapters. He accepts the news and maintains his focus on Fisk. This is a season based on people’s tortured and crummy pasts and processing the trauma years later.
Karen gets flashback to when she was a drug addict whereas parallels are drawn between Dex and Matt’s upbringings as orphans. The point is hammered home by Fisk’s M.O., which essentially exploits these pasts. He taps into people’s sins and fears and this enables him to puppet them. If someone doesn’t have a weak spot, Fisk ends up creating one. Ultimately, Jay Ali’s Ray Nadeem grows on you, but he is the most problematic element of the series since he is new to this world. In the end, every new character pays off in order to make a successful and interesting third season for Daredevil.