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The plot of this Daredevil Season 3 Episode 1 (“Resurrection”) is in fact simple enough to be summed up in a paragraph or two. Our hero Matt Murdock is battered and broken after the events of The Defenders (I assume; I bailed on the non-Daredevil/Punisher Marvel/Netflix joints some time ago), which apparently concluded with a building exploding with him and his resurrected lover Elektra inside of it. Now he’s being nursed back to health by Father Paul and Sister Maggie, two clergy members at the church/orphanage where he grew up. His enhanced senses are on the fritz, he’s mad at God for treating him like dirt, and he refuses to reach out to any of his friends for fear they won’t like the person he’s become. “In front of this God,” he tells Sister Maggie, “I’d rather die as the Devil than live as Matt Murdock.” Rushing out to fight crime in his old makeshift black uniform again the first chance he gets, he indeed attempts suicide-by-crook, though the muggers’ reluctance and the timely arrival of the cops prevent him from getting his wish.
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Meanwhile, our villain Wilson Fisk is still stuck in prison, where Daredevil helped put him back in Season One. He’s particularly aggrieved because his lover, Vanessa, can’t return to the country without being charged as an accessory to his crimes. In the episode’s final scene he’s interviewed by new character Ray Nadeem, an FBI agent who’s gone deep into debt to help pay for a family member’s uninsured cancer treatment, and thus can’t receive a promotion and the pay raise that goes with it for fear he’ll be a target for recruitment by opposing groups. Fisk says that in order to protect Vanessa, he’s ready to make a deal.
All the ingredients that make Daredevil a fun show to watch — if a slow one, since the main Marvel shows still stubbornly stick to the old Netflix-bloat 13-episode season model — are here. Charlie Cox is warm, engaging, and incredibly handsome (and often shirtless) as Murdock; I’m impressed with the way he uses his good cheer to convey his utter hopelessness and desperation, like the world is a big joke and he’s only just gotten it. (Referring to the Biblical figure, for example, he tells Sister Maggie “Job was a pussy,” a line that made me guffaw.) His relationship with his former paralegal turned journalist Karen Page, played by Deborah Ann Woll both in recycled flashbacks and in he present day, has an almost uncomfortable intimacy thanks to the softness of their voices and faces.
Vincent D’Onofrio is, of course, an absolute hoot as Fisk. Director Marc Jobst smartly lets the camera orbit his planet-sized noggin as long as he can whenever the character’s on screen, allowing the actor’s bulk, his creepy Private Pyle eyes, and his deeply weird vocal patterns (my favorite in the genre this side of Tom Hardy’s Bane) to work overtime.
Then come the real Daredevil staples. There’s some really strong fight choreography.
There are some great silhouettes.
There are some striking, isolating shot compositions.
There’s a training montage. There’s out-of-focus camerawork and muffled ringing sounds to let us know when Matt is feeling poorly. There’s a lot of jaw-jaw about theology. There’s a gross neti-pot blood effect, for some reason.
And importantly, for the part of me that’s still got a gigantic crush on Sorsha from Willow anyway, there’s now Joanne Whalley, nursing a lapsed Catholic man back to health while wearing a nun costume. All this in service of what augurs to be a loose adaptation of Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, one of the stories of which I remain the fondest from my years of reading superhero comics. Simple pleasures, folks. Simple pleasures.
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Sean T. Collins (
theseantcollins) writes about TV for Rolling Stone, Vulture, The New York Times, and anyplace that will have him, really. He and his family live on Long Island.