By Nick Hulsey, E23 Reporter

Brutal is the first word which comes to mind when describing Marvel and Netflix’s flagship program. From its first bone-crunching fight scene the show’s first season made it very clear that Marvel’s Netflix entries are cut from a different cloth than its cinematic counterparts.

“Daredevil” follows Matt Murdock, blind attorney by day and crime-fighting vigilante by night, as he fights to clean up his childhood home of Hell’s Kitchen, New York on both sides of the law. The show explores Matt’s moral dilemmas regarding violence, murder and deception as a devout Catholic as well as his struggle to keep his secret identity hidden.

Given the overall praise season one received from both fans and critics, the show’s second entry could not have come with much loftier expectations. If brutality is the unit of measurement, then this season reaches if not surpasses this high-hanging bar. Where “Daredevil” season two falls short in plot and character development, the show makes up for in its action.

The biggest drop-off between the show’s first and second seasons comes as a result of two losses to its roster- Vincent D’Onofrio and Drew Goddard. The first, the actor who played Wilson Fisk, brought such depth and intrigue to season one’s titular villain. Unfortunately this performance is not matched, despite honest efforts by the antiheroes Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra (Elodie Yung).

The blame for this fall in characterization cannot fall solely on the actors however. Much of this is likely a symptom of the departure of series creator and part-time showrunner Drew Goddard. Despite tagging along as a “series consultant,” when the second season is forced to take a step back from fight sequences and allow the plot to move forward, it falls flat in comparison to the previous season, and the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter’s absence from the writers’ room is most definitely felt.

Fortunately, these shortcomings are largely overshadowed by this season’s beautifully brutal action which dominates its runtime. For every step backwards the show takes writing-wise, it takes two forward in its depictions of violence. Visualized by its one-take hallway fight scene which makes the one from the first season look like a schoolyard scrap, this season’s action is on a much larger scale overall than what the show attempted a year ago.

While the choreography has improved slightly, much of this growth is due to the addition of the Punisher to the show’s list of characters. From his sudden and explosive introduction, Frank Castle’s presence immediately ups the show’s gore levels to extreme and provides an excellent foil to Murdock and his nonkilling ways. The multiple fights between the two realize any nerd’s most graphic fantasies while keeping even the most comic book-averse viewers glued to the edge of their seats.

While toting a slightly altered bag of strengths and weaknesses, this season of “Daredevil” manages to remain on par with its first. Its biggest draws are constant high-paced action and a determination to not shy away from a second of brutal, graphic violence. So if close-up shotgun blasts to the face and blood-drenched prison knife fights sound like your kind of fun, then this might be the show for you, but if you can’t take the heat, you should probably stay out of Hell’s Kitchen.