And we’re back with another episode of The Defenders on Netflix. Second verse, probably should’ve been the first…
1. When last episode ended with the earthquake shaking up Hell’s Kitchen, I got the sense that the entire first episode could have been skipped, aside from the earthquake scene. That feeling only magnified as the minutes ticked by on the first episode. Most of what was done in episode one was catching up with our heroes in the interim since their shows concluded, and what wasn’t–Danny and Colleen’s hunt for Elektra, Jessica hunting down a missing husband, and Luke tracking down a teen going down the wrong path–could have been done in exposition, or simply fit into a longer version of this second episode. I was actually disappointed when I learned Defenders was only an eight episode season, but now that I’m watching it, I’m finding even that was possibly a little too long.
2. Admittedly I’m going directly against my last point with this one, but man it was nice to see certain supporting cast members pop up this episode. Jeri Hogarth’s character arc was almost more compelling than Jessica’s–it certainly feels like she developed more by the end of the series than Jessica has, at least. Alongside her helping Danny get his company back, seeing her pop up to give Jessica a warning about her case, which very quickly wound up in the hands of federal agents, proves she’s become more of a softie, even if she’s still pretty money-obsessed. I even missed Foggy, though initially I thought they were going to revisit the “Daredevil” argument again, but thankfully the show seems smart enough to realize a third trip to the well is one too many. Plus even Matt realizes that being Daredevil was destroying his life, so having Foggy appear long enough to keep him busy by handing him legal cases was a nice touch.
3. If nothing else, Defenders has stuck to the time-honored tradition of having heroes fight with each other before they team up. That’s pretty unfortunate for Danny, though. In an attempt to track down the Hand, Danny and Colleen instead find a group of people viciously slaughtered only moments before they arrive. Before they can decide their next move, a group of cleaners arrive to fix the mess, and Colleen shuts them down solo, with the exception of one guy that Danny chases down. Since the show reveals the teen to be the same one Luke has been trying to save, it’s no surprise when Luke arrives just as Danny is pumping him for info.
The ensuing fight actually goes exactly as it would have in the comics, but that doesn’t help out our resident Iron Fist, who just comes off looking like a bigger schmuck than usual. I didn’t expect him to win, but it just gets tiresome making excuses for why he’s not winning most of his fights with ease. His one saving grace is when his chi-powered fist manages to knock Luke into a wall. That, and he didn’t suffer the same fate as Famous Amos.
4. When watching Daredevil, I was willing to accept the Hand moving into New York City. It’s one of the largest, most prosperous cities in the world–why wouldn’t you expand operations there? But what I don’t think I’m a fan of is how deeply they’re now trying to tie the city into places like K’un Lun that draw from distinctly Asian histories. In one of the meetings between Alexandra and Madame Gao, they reveal that they’ve discovered a “wall” that they can’t pass through–and Alexandra mentions casually that the monks of K’un Lun likely meant for it to be a doorway rather than merely a wall.
The implication here is that the people of K’un Lun were in fact in New York at one point. Whether it was a few decades before series started, or long before it was ever settled by the colonialists is immaterial–it just feels weird to cross the streams like this. I guess it would be the last place anyone from Asia would look, but still. I guess this is the downside of being forced to film the entire series on location in NYC.
5. Speaking of Alexandra, the end of the episode reveals that she’s captured Stick and is keeping him in the hopes that he’ll reveal some information. She mentions that everyone on Stick’s side is dead–which kind of keys into that scene in the previews where he’s saying our heroes are the only ones capable of saving the city.
It is frustrating to hear Stick’s army has been wiped out, though. It feels like Stick only just mentioned forming an army in Daredevil Season Two, and they were all killed off-screen before we could see them? Elektra’s been putting in work since her revival, it seems. And I guess at least now we don’t have to bear witness to a bunch of nobodies getting completely murked all season long.
The Defenders is currently available for streaming on Netflix.