And so it ends. I’m not talking only about Marvel’s Jessica Jones, which burst onto the scene just a few years ago with such a deft deconstruction of the entire superhero genre and its male power fantasies.
No, this final season – for the show was cancelled before the third season was even released – is also the end of that bold collaboration between Marvel and Netflix intended to give us proper grown-up superheroes and quality Netflix programming that also linked up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Screen Australia to fund development of: supernatural drama Secret Threads, crime dramedy Partners in Crime, adaptation of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, musical comedy High Rotation, and prostitution comedy drama Rough
Jann Arden and Sean Beak to guest, Laura Vandervoot, Colin Ferguson and Lucas Bryant to return to Global’s Private Eyes
In the US: Thursdays, 9pm ET, The CW In the UK: Not yet acquired
There is considerable feminist discourse around the concept of ‘likability’. Female politicians, such as Hillary Clinton, are considered ‘unlikable’ and therefore considered vote-losers, in a way male politicians rarely are. Does anyone think Rand Paul or Chuck Schumer are likeable? No, yet they still get elected and are considered (for some reason) via politicians.
In the Dark feels like an effort to push ‘the Overton Window‘ on female ‘likability’ using the ingenious aegis of disability. It sees Perry Mattfeld (Shameless US) playing Murphy, a woman whose life is a bit of a mess. She became blind at the age of 14 and was fostered by the owners of a guide dog charity (The West Wing‘s Kathleen York and The Whispers‘s Derek Webster), for which she now ‘works’. I say works, because most of the time she’s getting drunk, waking up from a one-night-stand or both. Or is off smoking with a teenage drunk-dealer who once saved her life.
Mattfield is even more self-destructive than that sounds. “You only care about yourself,” York yells at her after Mattfield has just slept with a married donor to the impoverished charity, resulting in the cancellation of his wife’s $10,000 donation.
“It’s pretty obvious I don’t care about myself. At all,” Mattfield replies.
Which isn’t entirely true, though. While most of the first episode revolves around Mattfield’s self-destruction and self-pity, there is another thread to the plot: the disappearance and possible murder of her teenage drug-dealer friend. That prompts Mattfield to try to persuade everyone that he has disappeared, even though his body goes missing soon after she finds it.
When that fails, she tries to solve the crime herself, with a little help from her friend Brooke Markham (Foursome) and the missing drug-dealer’s cousin/boss (Blood and Oil‘s Keston John).
Well, that was a disappointment. And a relief. But probably not for the reasons you were thinking.
So, Netflix’s various Marvel superhero shows have been in something of a funk of a late. When they were first announced, everyone was sceptical. With all the best Marvel superheroes in the cinema, what was Netflix going to do with a bunch of also-rans like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist?
But under the auspices of Steven DeKnight and Drew Goddard, the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil blew everyone away. This was quality TV. Okay, the costume was a let-down but at least that was only five minutes at the end of the last episode and we could just about excuse the magic ninja, the extreme sadism and Daredevil’s ability to heal crippling injuries in a couple of days using only the power of meditation before that.
Then Marvel’s Jessica Jones came along and that was the end of that – it looked like Netflix was doing for superhero shows what it had done for Internet TV with House of Cards. Phew. We were in safe hands. Roll on the other two shows.
Since then, those of us following these shows have largely been in a state of perpetual disappointment. Maybe it would have been better if the first two shows hadn’t been quite so good, then we wouldn’t have been quite so disappointed. Marvel’s Luke Cage was okay, but not great. Marvel’s Iron Fist was awesome! Unfortunately, I’m probably the only person who thought that (screw you, haters). The much-anticipated second season of Daredevilwas half-good, half-dreadful. The great big team-up of all four superheroes, Marvel’s The Defenders, was a bit blah thanks to a rushed conclusion and poor characterisation. Season two of Jessica Jones was season one of Jessica Jones again. Yawn. Season two of Luke Cage was a marked improvement over season one, but still not good enough to prevent it getting cancelled. Season two of Iron Fist was not only soporific, it was season two of Luke Cage as well, so it got cancelled, too.
The one bright star in the Marvel firmament was unexpected addition The Punisher.
So it was with low expectations but a certain degree of hope that I went into season three of Marvel’s Daredevil. Would it be as good as season one? Would it even be good?
I crossed my fingers, anyway.
Daredevil to hope
As I said, after 13 episodes, both relief and disappointment were the results. Disappointment, not because it was bad, but because it starts so well. The first six or so episodes are great. It then just turns into absolute rubbish. It’s stupid and almost unwatchable at times. Remember the Hand? Just as bad.
Oh the disappointment.
So why relief? Because thankfully, the final three or four episodes are great again. Woo hoo!
And it’s all by going back to the first season and what was good about the show. And by ditching that stupid costume. Spoilers after the jump.