Review: Daredevil S3 E7-E13 “Knocking Down The Kingpin”

The third season of Netflix’s Daredevil dropped on October 19th, 2018. Netflix has reportedly said it’s viewership was down 60% from previous seasons. After the cancellation of Iron Fist and Luke Cage, and the departure of show runner Melissa Rosenberg from Jessica Jones, we need as much positive word of mouth around the Netflix Marvel Cinematic Universe as possible. Do You Even Comic Book’s VincentKade and Shaun had lots of love for the first half of the season, but how did they feel about Daredevil Season 3 as a whole?

For this review, we included the links to the social media accounts of both the reviewers and those under review in case you would like to pass on praise directly.

Fixing The Formula

Bullseye tease

Vincent: The first half of Daredevil’s third season left us with high anticipation. Which half did you guys prefer of the season?

Kade: The second. That three way fight between Kingpin, Daredevil, and Bullseye in the finale was amazing. We also saw story beats I had been waiting for since they announced Daredevil on Netflix in November of 2013.

Shaun: I think I actually preferred the middle episodes. That is where Netflix shows have struggled in the past, but episodes 4-10 are probably my favorite of the season.

Vincent: I liked the second half a lot, but I have to agree with Shaun regarding the middle episodes. Marvel’s Netflix series often feel like they are trying to fill in that 13 episode order.  This season hearkened back to the first, with a tight script that wasted no time.

Kade: I felt like the arc separation was more subtle this season than past ones.

Vincent: I actually didn’t get the feel of arc separation this season, but I agree in the second season it was quite obvious.

Shaun: I feel like the arc separation began when the veil behind Wilson Fisk’s action dropped and we got to see the inside mechanism of his take over of multiple branches of the legal system. What episode did Agent Ray Nadeem realize what was going on? The seventh?

Kade: I can see that, but I thought it began to separate with the newspaper attack in the sixth episode.

Vincent: It is the ninth episode you’re thinking of Shaun. The depth of Fisk’s operation shocked me; it might be my favorite part of the season.

Shaun: Unlike the first half, which had distinctive episodes, I found the second half blurred together into one long story.

Vincent: The fifth to tenth episode all blurred together because of how well they flowed. The Bulletin attack is the catalyst of the second half. The aftermath of the attack bled into Karen Page confronting Fisk about Wesley’s death. It also leads Nadeem into Fisk’s conspiracy with his superiors at the FBI. There was some masterful storytelling in this string of episodes. It was where the meat of Daredevil’s story was and it could be felt.

Shaun: Fisk’s turn into the true Kingpin gave so much meaning it gave to all the little beats around characters like Foggy Nelson and Nadeem. Fisk felt untouchable due to his involvement in the loss of Agent Hattley’s kid and strong arming Foggy’s family into an illegal deal.

Vincent: The masterful execution of Fisk’s master plan gave it heavy weight.

Dive Off The Deep End

Jay Ali, Agent Nadeem, Pool

Vincent: Speaking of Nadeem, what was you guys’ response to his character during this part of the season?

Kade: By the end I felt like he was a plot device that could’ve been executed better, though Jay Ali did an awesome job as Nadeem.

Shaun: I came to care about Nadeem because of how critical he was. I expected Ray, if anybody, to be “TV stupid” and make illogical choices. But he always made calls I could back, because of his conflicted interests. And in the end, he was the one to take down Fisk and save Matt’s soul. Shame he never got to go for a swim in that pool he wanted.

Vincent: Everything about his character was crucial in that second part. Ali’s acting was the part that sold me on the framing scene in the ninth episode. Nadeem’s reaction to the conspiracy was breathtaking. His slow realization that his life had irreversibly changed genuinely moved me. As the season progressed I gained so much respect for him, especially when he lowkey saved Karen’s life putting his own life on the line in the eleventh episode. Nadeem became a key player and I loved it. The parallel drawn between him and Matt’s father was also a great way to hearken back to Matt’s consciousness.

Shaun: A parallel with Jack?

Vincent: Where he sacrifices himself in order for his son to know his father was a good man. In the end he’s all doing it for him, just like Jack did for Matt.

Kade: Oh, that’s smart.

Vincent: Nadeem’s phone call to his son highlights the duality. They don’t spend too much time on it though.

Subverting Source Material

Karen Page Death, Daredevil

Vincent: I think that bit of duality is a small indication of some fantastic decision making behind the scenes on this season of Daredevil. How did you guys feel about the choices made story-wise?

Shaun: The decision making in this season was superb. I could support the decisions made by all the characters, even Karen.

Kade: The Karen and Kingpin scene had me on the edge of my seat.

Vincent: That scene had such an intense build-up of tension I almost expected Fisk to kill her then and there.

Shaun: Erik Oleson and the creative team had fun toying with expectations of Karen dying. One of my favorite moments of the season was the inversion of the infamous church scene from the comics. In the comics, Matt cradled Karen’s corpse after Bullseye killed her. In Daredevil, Karen cradled an unconscious Matt at the end of the tenth episode.

Vincent: I expected them to take the kill Karen route with this season, but I’m glad they didn’t because her character worked superbly during this season.

Shaun: I’ve had a bone to pick with Karen since the first season of The Punisher, where I felt she unnecessarily rushed a story line with a tragic character to an unearned explosive end. But Karen has always had a strong presence on Daredevil that I’ve enjoyed. This season got the most out of Deborah Ann Woll yet. The flashback to her earlier life opening the tenth episode made it feel like the Bullseye fight at the end was leading to her death.

Kade: I’m happy the show stays true to the source material without being predictable.

Vincent: It keeps us guessing while still making these stories feel true in essence and tone.

Karen Page Inversion, Daredevil

Shaun: If I may shift the direction back to the church itself, Father Lantom’s death was easily the weakest part of the season. It felt like a story-telling cop out, since Lantom has saved Matt’s soul multiple times on Daredevil, but we never get to see them have a chance to repair the damage done between them after Matt learned Father Lantom concealed the fact that Sister Maggie is Matt’s mother.

Vincent: I do agree it felt overshadowed by all the other things going on. I will say however Matt’s eulogy at the end of the season moved me to tears. Despite a weak death sequence they recovered by giving Father Lantom a better send off at the end of the season.

Kade: I thought it worked because I never saw it coming. Father Lantom didn’t seem like a character worth killing off. The second he died, I realized how important he was to Matt and all he’d done in Daredevil. I will miss Peter McRobbie on the show.

Shaun: Sister Maggie’s role also took a pretty dramatic turn in the back half. I really liked her backstory and how it defined her present actions. I was also quite happy that it didn’t slow down Matt’s story or hamper his return to being Matthew Murdock.

Vincent: I think learning that he wasn’t alone in the world all that time helped him. Despite the initial shock it helped him tremendously in finding his way back to his friends. Maggie’s role in the story was to bring a glimpse of hope back to Matt’s life, in her own special brooding way. I think it worked really well for him.

Shaun: There’s an interesting parallel between Maggie and Vanessa. Both are connection that Wilson and Matt long for, but while Maggie is able to build Matt up, Vanessa plays a large part in Fisk’s downfall. I just wish she had been more active in her role as Fisk’s bane.

Kade: Did you guys notice Vanessa becoming essentially an other Kingpin?

Shaun: Vanessa could have been the true puppet master, the string that pulled Fisk. Unfortunately, they brought her back too late to develop her as such

Vincent: Agreed. Vanessa’s development felt like an afterthought. I would have loved more Vanessa because Ayelet Zurer owned the role.

Fond Farewells

Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock

Vincent: Before we give final thoughts, what were your favorite moments in the back half?

Shaun: I don’t know if it is my favorite, but I love how the season ends. If Daredevil ends up on the cancellation list alongside Iron Fist and Luke Cage, then this how the series should end.

Kade: Everything about the final episode. Not only the amazing three way fight, but also the Fisk wedding. I also sadly agree about the ending being the perfect finale for Daredevil.

Vincent: For me, it was easily Karen’s and Fisk’s discussion. It gave me chills and has lingered in my head every day since I watched it. Should Daredevil face cancellation, his story delivered a strong and satisfying ending.

Verdicts?

Kade: Solid 4 out of 5. I like the first seasons of Daredevil, Luke Cage, and The Punisher more, but I hope the series keeps going, because Daredevil is the beating heart of Marvel on Netflix.

Shaun: I will give this a 4.5 out of 5. Daredevil’s third season is the strongest season of a Marvel Netflix show, outside of the first season of The Punisher. Daredevil’s third season is sandwiched between the first season of The Punisher and Jessica Jones. It told one long winding story that never dragged or made a mockery of its characters. The duality in this season between so many aspects were perfect and this show is going out on top. And if it isn’t, then I look forward to the true Bullseye next season after that tease.

Vincent: I’m gonna go with a 4.5 out of 5 too. It kept getting better as the series progressed. The only show that tops it for me is the first season of Jessica Jones, and the first season of The Punisher trails not far behind.

Shaun: Nice, we got the same ingredients in our sandwich.

Vincent: It’s the holy trinity of Marvel on Netflix and this season of Daredevil is an essential ingredient.

Shaun Martineau is a young Canadian father and undergraduate with a BA in Cultural Theory and Creative Writing. He has reviewed Marvel titles for nine years but broke away in 2017 to focus more on smaller publishers like Aftershock, Black Mask, and Action Lab.

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