It’s that time of the week folks. Time to look at the next couple of episodes from Netflix’s The Defenders. Will they improve from the first two episodes? Let’s find out.
Episode 3: “Worst Behavior”
In the final hour…our heroes FINALLY unite. It’s rather odd that a miniseries focused primarily on bringing these heroes together takes almost three episodes before they all finally meet up. But we’ll get to that team up later. First we have to talk about Elektra:
I haven’t mentioned Elektra at all mostly because…well, there wasn’t much to talk about. She was around yet she had no lines and no information was given as to how she rose from the dead. Here we get a decent sequence of scenes that finally shed some light as to how she became this way and…it’s okay.
There’s nothing exactly mind blowing, just that she was brought back with black goo, has no recollection of she is, and is being trained by Alexandra to become the mysterious “Black Sky” (honestly, I know they mentioned it back in Daredevil yet this entire eight-episode arc never addresses why the Hand needs the Black Sky in the first place…). It’s not a very original concept (it’s the hypnotized hero turning evil as the other heroes have to snap their friend out of it) nor does it provide anything new to the table. We’ll see how it plays out in later episodes.
There was one excellent scene featuring Elektra: the weapon selection. As Alexandra asked Elektra to pick a weapon, Elektra lingered over two sais (her old weapons). The look of intrigue on her face mixed with Alexandra’s look of nervousness just made for a great moment. Couple that in with Elektra’s fight with Matt and we’ve got some nice uses of foreshadowing.
Early reports about The Defenders described Jessica and Matt’s dynamic being that of switching off between cat and mouse. It’s not a half bad description. Their first conversation is exactly what you’d expect: Matt is calm and collected while Jessica is defensive and snarky. Their best scene together, maybe in the entirety of the show, is the tailing scene. It begins with Matt tailing Jessica, Jessica realizing this and evading Matt, then followed by Jessica somehow getting behind Matt and tailing him. It’s funny, fuels the cat and mouse relationship notion, and is quite accurate for their characters. Jessica’s a seasoned investigator so it’s only natural that she’d be able to discern if she was being followed and start following her follower. Also, major points for her being able to figure out that Matt is Daredevil.
I have to say, the Luke and Danny dynamic almost makes me forget how bad Iron Fist was (emphasis on the word “almost”). Danny has always been a very childish character, so to see him go up against a mature mentor figure is a refreshing sight. There’s a great line of Luke’s that stands out the most:
“I know privilege when I see it. You may think you earned your strength, but you had power the day you were born. Before the dragons. Before the chi. You have the ability to change the world without getting anyone hurt.”
It strikes a nerve with Danny so much that he actually changes his tactics. He uses his billionaire connections rather than beating people up to find the Hand. It also shows how much Luke has grown as a figure to look up to. He’s really starting to emulate Pops, especially the way he’s looking out for the kid the hand hired. Hopefully all of Luke’s great character traits will start rubbing off on Danny.
Speaking of mentors, Alexandra seems to be playing that role for Elektra. It’s odd though. Their relationship isn’t exactly that of teacher and student, but more like that of a mother and daughter.
And that’s about it for her. Which is starting to make me realize a trend in her character. Alexandra doesn’t do much. She’s just sort of…there. She brought back Elektra and had her trained, but other than that…nothing else. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding her character, yet it’s never exactly addressed why.
And of course, there’s the first team up. It’s not the greatest fight scene, which can be a little disappointing based on the previous choreographed fights. For a big fan of any of these shows though, it’s very enjoyable. Overall, great episode.
Episode 4: “Royal Dragon”
Superheroes eating at a restaurant…I feel like I’ve seen that before…
Any who, the majority of this episode is a rather unique concept. All four heroes are hiding out in a Chinese restaurant and having dinner. It seems like a natural idea for them to come up with, focuses primarily on these four rather than the side characters, and gives them the opportunity to get to know each other. It’s done really well and showcases each character at their best.
Matt is very guarded around them all at first, and rightfully so. He’s the only one with a secret identity so he naturally wants to keep it intact to protect the people he cares about. Even after he takes his mask off, he still wears an invisible mask, keeping a lot of secrets to himself, like the fact that he and Elektra were together at one point. He’s also the most pragmatic thinking of the group and offers the most insight, which makes sense for someone who’s been a hero the longest.
Jessica is very against teaming up, which fits her character. She never wanted to be a hero in the first place, so being in a situation like this is not her ideal choice. Couple that in with her defensiveness, and it made perfect sense as to why she left. The reason she came back though was very natural: she still had the urge to investigate and provide justice to the architect’s family.
Luke, while resilient, is probably the most open to teaming up. He’s very much the heart of the team, keeping everyone focused on the true end game: protecting the city and keeping everyone safe.
For the first time, I actually enjoyed Danny’s presence. For some reason, he was either written very well this episode or just bounced off well with the others. It may be that Danny is the only light-hearted character among the four, so of course the odd one out will stand out the most. He did showcase a surprising amount of intelligence, too. He quickly used his resources to procure their hideout and gains the restaurant owner’s trust. He’s also the first one to suggest that they all team up together.
Other than that, there’s not much else to talk about this episode. The side stories are not nearly as interesting as what the defenders are up to. If I could make one change, it would be to make this a bottle episode, with every scene taking place in the restaurant. It would have been more interesting and allow for more character development between the heroes.
We do meet another member of the hand, Murakami, but other than cutting open a bear (weird) he doesn’t do much yet. What’s odd is that Stick mentions that this guy pulled Nobu’s strings (a ninja character from Daredevil). Why not just have Nobu as one of five hand members? He’s already an established character and you wouldn’t have to waste time setting up this guy who does next to nothing.
Speaking of Stick, he comes across great in these past couple of episodes. He actually cuts his hand off to escape, thinking nothing of it, and sort of starts serving as a pseudo mentor for the defenders, being the one to educate them on the hand. He has some great moments with the team, especially with Matt.
Overall, we had two great episodes that both focus on character development for our main characters as well as giving us what the audience wants most: the defenders interacting with each other in enjoyable ways. Now that the team has assembled, will our heroes be able to work together? Well find out next week as the defenders tie up some loose ends. Until next time, this is Xander signing off.