I disliked the first season of Iron Fist, I thought it was boring, focused more on corporate shenanigans and nebulous villains than on the martial arts badassery the character deserves. So I came to the 2nd season a bit dubious of how good it could be and gotta say, it pays to have low expectations!
This season of Daredevil is a dark one. There’s violence and mayhem like never before. The season opens with Irish mobsters having dinner and someone shooting the place up, killing all but a single man, Grotto, one of their flunkies. Suspecting a rival gang and wanting witness protection, he reaches out to Murdock and Nelson and convinces them to help him get a second chance, bringing them all into the line of fire. To complicate matters further, Matt’s college girlfriend Elektra is in town and she’s after something big, enlisting Daredevil’s help. Matt soon finds out that he’s the only one following the no-killing rule.
As the season continues, we see new pieces added to Elektra’s mystery, as well as her and Matt’s backstory. On the other case, we discover it’s not an army but a single man doing all the killing across the city’s underworld: Frank Castle—nicknamed The Punisher by the authorities.
This Daredevil season has two ongoing storylines, a risky move as you need the writing to be on point not to muddle the storytelling. Thankfully, the writers for Daredevil know how to do their jobs and the stories flow brilliantly throughout the season, keeping it paced perfectly. When the Punisher plot slows down, the Elektra story picks up, gaining momentum, until something new breaks in the first narrative.
But what I liked the most was that the stories never mix. These two plots stay apart, the only link being Matt Murdock and how hard it becomes for him to keep his two lives going at the same time. How does he keep the city safe and still work as a lawyer, be a good friend and have the time to date? The twin-storylines help show the conflict in Daredevil. They help the character come to terms with what his priorities are, and in doing so create the opportunity for the other characters to evolve, to become stronger and better.
This is a season of growth for the Daredevil ‘world’ as well. Although it’s part of the cinematic universe, the first season of Daredevil kept things as close to reality as possible, but with the success of Jessica Jones, Daredevil season two brings in some of the more outrageous elements of the comic’s mythos, such as the Chaste and the Hand. There are undead ninjas, cults, and much more this season and it works really well, better than I would’ve imagined.
Performances are once again incredible. Charlie Cox continues to shine as Matt Murdock, and even more than last season, I had to look up if he was actually blind or not, because he even acts the tiniest of mannerisms someone in his condition would have. Vincent D’Onofrio pops back into his Kingpin suit for a couple of episodes and it’s always a pleasure to see him play the character. The strength and barely restrained violence he shows, is amazing.
But the best this season has to be Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle. He plays the badass, the hardened vigilante with a bleak outlook on humanity and justice, but there is a vulnerability hidden below the surface, one that you can see in Bernthal’s eyes. When he’s telling the story of his family, the tears he sheds feel real, as does his muttering, the trembling lips and gasps for air to control his emotions. Bernthal might be the latest to play the Punisher but he’s the best, making Frank Castle relatable, makes us see the human behind the tactical armour and weapons. It’s a phenomenal performance by a truly talented actor.
That is not to say that Élodie Young doesn’t do a phenomenal job with Elektra. She does, but if we compare her character with Bernthal’s, her emotional conflicts aren’t nearly on the same level. Still, I love how her playful and seemingly carefree demeanor hides pain and a strong resolve, a will to do whatever is necessary. It’s refreshing to see someone tackle this character and actually pull it off.
With Punisher, Daredevil, Elektra, ninjas and of course, Stick—and I love Scott Glenn portrayal—there are dozens of fights and they’re still as jaw dropping as ever. The choreographies are perfect, the violence feels real and each hit has a satisfying thud—I grimaced every time Daredevil threw his billy club at someone’s face. The downside however is that many of the pivotal confrontations this season happen in dark places, such as tunnels, basements or just dark roofs, and because of that, sometimes it’s very hard to see what is happening and that’s a shame with these astounding fights. The ones in the last episode are especially bad, with sets so dark you can’t make out half of what Elektra is doing.
This was a wonderful season for Daredevil. It’s darker and grittier but it’s also superior in its storytelling, pulling off a dual storyline with perfection.
The Last Door is a low-res gothic horror point & click adventure game. I reviewed the first season in 2014, finding its Lovecraftian horror story very intriguing and enjoyable, though I felt the sudden ending left you with no payoff for the season-long build-up.
The 100 season 2 picks immediately after the previous season’s finale. The 100 defeat he grounder forces, but the Mountain Men—those living in Mount Weather—soon capture them. While some left for space, others stayed behind in bunkers protecting them from the radiation. Mount Weather is one such place. They welcome The 100—or The 47 as they call them this season. But Clarke suspects something’s off with these bunker people.
And man is she right!
The first thing I have to say about The 100 Season 2 is how much I loved the visual design of it. The people of the Ark are on Earth and they’ve made their own makeshift camp around their landing zone, the look of it an amped up version of The 100 camp, with makeshift structures but a badass electric fence and gate. Mount Weather has a definite Americana feel to it while still being extremely oppressive, with its secret bunker door and tight hallways. The Ton DC village and other Grounder settlements tell you so much about their civilisation.
Second thing is that this season took the time to both show and explain how the hell Grounder culture works, helping to explain why they’re all so crazy for battle and eager to go Friday the 13th on the Sky People—yet another unoriginal name. Really, this show’s greatest weakness is in naming crap.
The overall plot of the season involves Mount Weather and its questionable practices towards both Grounders and Ark-folk—I refuse to call them Sky People—and Clarke doing her very best to forge an alliance and still remain human in the face of hard choices. In terms of character growth, hers is the best, closely followed by Octavia’s warrior journey. Bellamy has calmed down and become more level-headed since last season but it was now Finn’s turn to lose all his marbles and become the new resident douchenugget. You know you’re a complete bastard when Murphy is telling you you’re crossing a line.
My two favourite characters this season were Maya and Jasper, the latter one of the original 100s, and the first guy to get crucified by Grounders—he got better—and the former one of the Mount Weather people. At first, you think she’s an enemy but you slowly see more sides to her until she’s one of the best in the season.
Aside from those characters I’ve mentioned, the ever badass Licoln and the newcomer female Grounders, Indra and The Commander—who’s an outstanding character—I pretty much hated all characterization in this season of The 100. The Ark people are asinine, completely disregarding the kids’ accomplishments and treat them like children. They spend the entire first season seeing this kids survive impossible situations and even state how proud they are of them, but the first thing Kane says when meeting them is “You are not in control anymore!”. Clarke’s mother is the worst of the bunch. She constantly tries to be the protective parent to a child she essentially sent to her death on the ground and then harshly judges her for making some of the same choices she made as a leader on the Ark. But it does lead to one of the most amazing lines in the entire season, from Clarke to her: “You may be the Chancellor, but I am in charge!”
Speaking of Kane, he goes back to being a complete ass for the first few episodes, even going so far as flogging Clarke’s mum with a taser, but then becomes a really nice guy again and remains that way for the rest of the season. It’s the Ark’s original Chancellor, Thelonius, who gets a permanent spot on the douchenugget fun train, leading to one of the strangest, most convoluted, contrived and harebrained character and plot developments in any TV series to date, with him first riding a missile to Earth and then taking a handful or survivors and Murphy across the desert to find the promised land, all while acting like he’s freaking Moses. Every scene with him will have you asking “What?” as it becomes more and more surreal. It’s the kind of stuff you’d expect from dream sequences or after a character has a psychotic break during the previous season. By the season finale, it broke my Bullshit Tolerance Threshold—or my suspension of disbelief, use whatever term you prefer.
Having said so, the performances are good all around, though the Grounder actors could’ve showed a bigger range of emotions. Resting Bitch Face is their default mode. I wanted to see some of them at least crack a smile that wasn’t cruel or scary. They’re stoic and humourless for the entire season. It’s not their fault because I know Adina Porter—you’ll recognise her from her True Blood days—is a terrific actress, and even though she barely shows any emotion, she manages to convey just how strong her character, Indra, is. It’s the same with Alycia Debnam Carey’s Lexa, the Commander for the Grounder forces, but in her case, the lack of emotion is fully explored through her interactions with Clarke and you can understand it. In fact, I give Alycia full props because she manages to portray the character’s emotions with just her eyes.
If you thought The 100 Season 1 was a dark show, you haven’t seen anything. This one goes so dark I’m tempted to call it evil. People die by the scores, some are tortured and others die slow and painful deaths, though a lot of those really deserve it. The season finale has a fantastic climax and things end in a believable way for Clarke…and completely off the rails BS for Thelonius. They should’ve let that character die in peace.
Aside from the characterization and the Thelonius messiah plotline, this is the season that got a bit over the top with the Sci part of Sci-Fi. What the Mountain Men do to stay alive will have you react like “Holy s***!” before you realise it’s complete nonsense. What they do to the 47 afterwards is beyond that and well into poppycock territory.
Even with all I’ve said above, this is a very strong season. The main storyline, characters and pacing overcome some of the more glaring deficiencies.
Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller is a 2013 adventure game developed by Phoenix Online Studios. It follows the eponymous Erica Reed, an FBI agent with the power of Post-Cognition, the ability to touch things or people and see past experiences. Continue reading Cognition: Season 2 Speculation
Quoting my good friend V, who inspired this series of posts and whose style I’m totally ripping off here (but hey, if it works, why fix it?):
This is a play-by-play, walk-through of my own game. I wrote about my choices, the process behind making them, along with how I felt at various stages and a glimpse into my inner monologue throughout. It is a recap of my personal Walking Dead journey. If you ever plan on playing this game yourself please do not read it, as I would hate to be held responsible for ruining what could be a memorable zombie caper for you. So, SPOILERS AHEAD. Continue reading Playthrough Monologue – The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 1 – All That Remains