The major theme of DAREDEVIL season three is, without a doubt, forgiveness. After the literal wreckage at the end of THE DEFENDERS, no one knew what happened to Matt Murdock. The remaining members of the reluctant team up continued on with their lives — and into subsequent seasons. Matt’s fate was the only loose end.

forgiveness in daredevill
Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The Matt Murdock that wakes up convalescing in the same orphanage where he grew up is a Matt Murdock nearly defeated. Among his catalog of injuries, Matt can’t hear very well out of one ear. For someone who depends on his hearing to navigate the world, Matt is devastated. More than that, Matt is angry and betrayed. His conception of heroism is heavily predicated on his Catholicism, but he can’t find it in himself to forgive God after the disaster at Midland Circle.

As Matt slowly makes his way back into the world and into being Daredevil, he’s forced to reckon with not just God, but with Foggy, Karen, and his long-lost mother. An abundance of forgiveness will be needed.

Die As The Devil

Before Matt knows Sister Maggie is his mother, she nurses him back to health. He lives in a basement beneath the church and struggles to maintain his balance after having half of his hearing temporarily knocked out. During one of his many terse and, frankly, hilarious conversations with Sister Maggie, Matt retells the story of the Book of Job. It’s a dark story to tell — Job did everything God asked of him, and still lost everything. He was God’s perfect servant.

It’s easy to see where Matt draws the parallels between himself and Job. And yet, there’s still an essential difference. Rather than accepting God’s unexplainable torture like Job, Matt rejects God entirely. He tells Sister Maggie that he “in front of this God, I would rather die as the devil than live as Matt Murdock.”

forgiveness in daredevil
Is there forgiveness in Daredevil? Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

DAREDEVIL isn’t new to Matt’s frequent crises of faith; the guy is a walking contradiction, lawyer by day and vigilante by night. He struggles over whether he should kill villains like Wilson Fisk — not because he doesn’t want to, but because he believes it is only God’s right to judge who’s worthy of justice. The crux of Matt’s argument with the Punisher is that he believes everyone is worthy of God’s forgiveness, even if they are not worthy of his.

Stealing Your Best Friend’s Identity To Break Into Prison

Matt’s relationship with Foggy is easily one of the most important aspects of the show. Forgiveness in DAREDEVIL is a complicated thing, and the friendship between Matt and Foggy perfectly illustrates that.

Matt has burned Foggy more than once. Matt’s insistence that his daylight persona is dead makes it difficult for him to properly reconnect with Foggy at first. However, Foggy is relentless in his undying support for Matt. The first time he sees Matt again after believing him dead for months is underwhelming due to Matt’s reticence, but he’s still delighted. The bond between the two runs deep; when Matt has well and truly gone off the deep end, Foggy believes in him enough to help pull him back in.

forgiveness in daredevil
It’s not every day your best friend comes back to life. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

I think it’s important to note here that Foggy doesn’t let Matt off the hook for any of his terrible behavior in the wake of so many disasters, either. Foggy deserves better and he knows it. At the same time, Foggy knows Matt. He won’t let his best friend kill Kingpin because he understands that Matt would never recover from the guilt of it. Foggy’s ability to forgive Matt for past mistakes is what pushes Matt forward into forgiving himself and God.

Hi, I’ve Been Secretly Raising You For Years

If you ignore everything Fisk is doing over the course of season three, Matt’s revelation that Sister Maggie is his mother is one of the biggest shocks of the season. She doesn’t even intend to tell Matt — simply asks God for strength to continue helping him while he’s in such a dark place. However, she doesn’t account for Matt’s super hearing.

Matt’s reaction to emotional turmoil is to wall himself off from the world. He jumps ship after hearing Sister Maggie confess, fully intending to never see her again. His rage is understandable at this moment. Matt spent his entire life believing he never knew his mother. The thought that she was so close for so long is devastating. Even worse, Father Lantom knew the entire time. So did Matt’s father before he died.

forgiveness in daredevil
Cat’s out of the bag. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

When Matt confronts Father Lantom about the deception, he doesn’t get the satisfying answer he wants. Everyone wants to believe that there’s always a good reason for a lie or a betrayal, especially when it’s a loved one doing the lying. Father Lantom’s answer comes across as both complicated and simple: Sister Maggie asked him to keep the secret, so he did. Everything about the situation’s unfair to Matt. It happened anyway. Even when Sister Maggie explains her reasoning for leaving her son to Karen, she acknowledges that by not telling him, her fear hurt him. All she can do now is be better in the future, should Matt give her the chance to do so.

Harboring Criminals

Forgiveness in DAREDEVIL season three is treated with far more complexity than in previous seasons. In season one, Matt’s concept of forgiveness is concerned far more with his Catholic guilt and how that translates to dealing with criminals. The introduction of Frank Castle as the Punisher in season two added an interesting wrinkle to Matt’s religious dogma. However, the Hand appearing in the second half cut that development short. 

Season three seems to pick up right where we left Matt. Forgiveness presents itself as a messy and multi-layered problem. Matt believed himself to be God’s tool in combating evil in Hell’s Kitchen. Godcasting him aside was demoralizing. Moreover, the season reveals Matt’s difficulty in forgiving his mother and father for abandoning him.

forgiveness in daredevil
Forgiveness in DAREDEVIL isn’t easy. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Ultimately, though, Matt does forgive them. Like love, forgiveness is an incredibly difficult virtue to grapple with. People are flawed. Sister Maggie and Jack Murdock have reasons for the decisions they made that hurt their son, but the reasons just aren’t good enough. Sometimes you hurt the people you love, and there’s nothing to do after that but try to be better.

Sometimes, You Have to Forgive Yourself, Too

Another aspect of forgiveness in DAREDEVIL season three explores is how to forgive yourself. Matt’s defined by intense Catholic guilt. Foggy believes Matt might not have nearly died beneath Midland Circle if he hadn’t given him the suit back. Karen blames herself for so many things it’s a miracle she’s even still a functioning human being. The list goes on and on.

Just before he dies, Father Lantom tells Karen that no matter what it is she may have done or not have done, she can still be redeemed. It’s an extremely Catholic way of looking at the situation, but it’s fitting for the show. The idea of redemption Father Lantom poses spills over into the rest of the season. Sometimes, in order to live with yourself, you need to forgive yourself and move on.

forgiveness in daredevil
Nelson, Murdock, and Page. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Forgiveness in DAREDEVIL: A Better Place

DAREDEVIL season three ends with Matt, Foggy, and Karen agreeing to join up together once again. Nelson, Murdock, and Page are back in business. Old wounds are not forgotten, but it’s possible that they’re forgiven. It’s a nice note to end the season on, even the series since DAREDEVIL has been canceled by Netflix and left to an uncertain fate. The trio’s friendship is a complicated thing to navigate, but they’re getting there. Everyone is getting there.

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