This post contains spoilers for Daredevil.
Faith’s a funny thing. Empty faith, or faith that remains untested, can be blind. Empty loyalty to an unresponsive deity whose gospels have been reinterpreted millions of times has resulted in the death of countless people throughout history. Every religion is filled with those who claim loyalty to their god(s) while having little to no understanding of what their teachings are actually meant to say. But what happens when the truly faithful lose their belief?
Daredevil has always been heavily rooted in Matt Murdock’s faith. Watching him struggle with that faith after the Midland Circle incident, and the subsequent loss of Elektra and Stick, acts as the foundation of season three. He believes he is alone. He’s been abandoned by his God, lost the two people he considered to be his family, and finds himself a liability to his friends. As usual, Matt Murdock is wrong about basically everything.
After waking up in the charge of the very nuns that helped raise him, Matt starts to spiral with loss. He finds himself lost without the powers that his identity was built around. In his eyes, Matt Murdock died in the explosion, and Daredevil isn’t far behind if he remains powerless. Thankfully, our idiot hero is surrounded people who have no interest in his stupidity.
We’re all done with hearing heroes say “I have to do this on my own”, but it can be pretty great when paired with no-nonsense nuns. Sister Maggie’s introduction may have been later in the show’s tenure than some would have liked, but her entrance to the series couldn’t have come at a better time. Acting as season three’s MVP, the sister smacks Matt around when needed, protects his little family, and stands tall in the face of murderers in the wake of the death of Father Lantom. Just like any strong mother would. The reveal of Maggie “Done with Your Shit” Murdock adds an incredible level of emotion to Matt’s already broken hero as he wonders how the people that raised him could let him believe he grew up without either of his parents.
Daredevil’s third season spends a lot of its time weaving complex emotions and issues into its story, but not so much that it pulls you out of Matt’s quest for justice. When Wilson Fisk is released from prison, he quickly sways the people with cries of “fake news”, but he cannot convince a Holocaust survivor shortly after. She remembers what the wolves looked like back then, and can recognize one now. Women are portrayed as liars while people of color are pronounced mentally unstable while the Avocados at law fight over the law vs. vigilantism and murder. Small moments like these tied in with scenes of Father Lantom, Agent Nadeem, and Matt’s journey solidify season three as the show’s best so far.
If you’re not into your superhero shows going deep into story and just want to see a good guy punch a bad guy in the face a few times, season three’s still got you covered. Daredevil has never struggled in the fight department and, while there are a few fights that could have been lit a little better, this year’s offering is no exception. The church scene in and of itself acts as a master class for the other Marvel Netflix shows to learn from. The fight is beautifully colored, bright enough to see, and filled with devastating stakes.
Vincent D’Onofrio’s return to the series can’t go unmentioned. His Kingpin moving the chess pieces while Wilson Bethel’s Bullseye acts as the muscle is a perfect pairing, even after Matt manages to turn them against each other. Vanessa tells Wilson that it’s about finding someone whose broken pieces fit in with theirs in the show’s penultimate episode. At the time, you assume that it’s about her and her soon-to-be husband, but it fits just as well with Fisk and Agent Poindexter.
Watching Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk work together to protect Vanessa while simultaneously trying to murder each other is the season’s final gift. Not only does it illustrate the deeply complex relationship between the two men, but by golly, you can actually see the damn thing! This is surely only an end to a battle rather than Fisk and Murdock’s war, but what a perfectly satisfying conclusion it managed to be. Daredevil manages to best Kingpin without sacrificing who he is while still fulfilling the viewers' need to watch a monster get what’s coming to him.
While the “brave hero who loses everything and believes he has to put himself on an island to win” trope is infuriatingly overplayed, it seems to work for season three. Pairing it with Matt’s struggle with his faith, identity, and relationships seems to work in the show’s favor, but it would be great if we could never go down this road again. Aside from that? Daredevil season three is a return to form for the patriarch of the Marvel Netflix universe.
What did you think of Matt Murdock's return?