WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Marvel's Daredevil Season 3, streaming now on Netflix.
Matt Murdock seemingly sacrificed himself in the finale of Marvel's The Defenders in an attempt to save the city, and the woman, he loves, only to reappear in the closing moments, injured but alive, in a moment inspired by "Born Again." More than a year has passed since then, during which time fans experienced entire seasons of The Punisher, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist without knowing how the Man Without Fear survived being buried beneath tons of rubble at Midland Circle. Naturally, the Season 3 premiere of Daredevil finally provides the answer, but certainly doesn't dwell on it.
In fact, the premiere devotes less than three minutes to Matt's improbable -- some might say miraculous -- escape, and that includes a flashback to his parting kiss with Elektra.
The season opens with a surreal image of a prone figure seemingly rising from the flames, only for the perspective to change, revealing it's actually a barely conscious Matt (Charlie Cox), plunging into water in the immediate aftermath of the Midland Circle implosion. Carried through the storm sewer and unceremoniously burped out onto the shore, he drags himself across the rocks, where he's found the next morning, bloody and broken, by a passing taxi driver. It's only after Matt is delivered to Father Lantom at Clinton Church, and tended to by the nuns, that Daredevil flashes back, oh so briefly, to Matt and Elektra kissing as the world crashes down around them. The sound of rushing water brings us full circle, to those first seconds of the episode.
Whereas some series might have given over an entire episode to the explanation, Daredevil doesn't linger on the question that seemed so important a year ago. But as new showrunner Erik Oleson explained to CBR earlier this week, there's a very good reason for that.
"The end of The Defenders already showed the audience that he got out, right? It wasn’t very specific about how he did," said Oleson, whose credits include Arrow and The Man in the High Castle. "That provided an inherent challenge, ‘cause if you were going to go show a sequence of how he managed to escape, you already knew the end result of it, so there were no real stakes. One of the things I wanted to do this season was to tell an emotionally honest story where there are always real stakes, so I was a bit boxed in by that."
Still, he explained, the elephant in the room couldn't very well be ignored as the third season opens.
"I felt like the audience was owed an explanation, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time dealing with that," Oleson said. "I kind of wanted to deal with that quickly, and move on. The solution that I pitched to Jeph Loeb [head of Marvel Television], and that he really got excited about, and everybody at Marvel did, was to use a shot which was essentially a metaphor, for the devil rising from hell. So, the concept of that opening shot was that you see, essentially, the devil rising from hell before you realize that it is Matt sinking down beneath the collapsing building into some sort of a storm drain, and swept out to the place that he is found and brought to the church."
"The important thing for me was to honor what had come before, in The Defenders," he concluded, "but quickly move on with the story that we wanted to tell with Season 3."
Now available on Netflix, Marvel's Daredevil Season 3 stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Joanne Whalley as Sister Maggie, Wilson Bethel as Benjamin Poindexter, Jay Ali as Rahul "Ray" Nadeem and Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk.