Jumping right into the 5th episode of the ‘Defenders,’ things are definitely moving a lot faster now, even when the show tries to artificially slow things down. Instead of starting with the big fight between the Hand and the Defenders that was teased at the end of Episode 4, instead we get a little bit of build-up (cued up with some classical music) as the Hand prepares to storm the Chinese restaurant. Of course, on the Defenders side, Stick warns everyone to stay together, as that is the only way they will survive the day, but that seems to fall on deaf ears where Matt is concerned, because as soon as the fight starts, he breaks off from the main group and fights Elektra alone, trying to break through to her. He is not entirely successful, but she does hesitate in killing him again, an act that Murakami witnesses and is not happy about. Meanwhile, Luke and Sowande (aka Whitehead) duke it out, a battle that ends with Sowande driving a trash truck into Luke and seeming to capture the unbreakable man. After Elektra flees, Matt returns to the main group and they retreat back to Colleen’s dojo, where Luke catches up with them and reveals that he turned the tables on Sowande and actually took the Hand leader captive.
So they all head to a secure (supposedly) warehouse that Stick knows of to interrogate Sowande, who in classic villain fashion threatens everyone the heroes love, leading to a series of scenes where the Defenders head out to gather their loved ones and bring them all to Misty Knight’s protection in an NYPD station. None of their sidekicks are particularly thrilled about the situation, especially when both Luke and Matt use the line (on Claire and Karen respectively) “the less you know the better” (really guys, when has that EVER been true on these shows?), but at least they get to the police station safely. The same cannot be said for Trish, for right when Jessica gets to her friend, Murakami shows up, and she ends up having to battle the Hand leader, though lucky for her, it is at this point that Daredevil (in full costume) finally re-emerges, taking out Murakami for the moment, while Jessica quips that she liked him better in the scarf. While collecting Colleen, we learn that Alexandra’s “reinforcements from South America” (that she had mentioned to her Hand colleagues earlier when they learned Sowande had been taken) is a resurrected Bakuto and his Hand forces, and though his mission was to capture the Iron Fist, Bakuto is more interested in reclaiming Colleen. When she refuses to join him, he slashes her stomach, but luckily Luke arrives and Bakuto retreats, and they are able to get Colleen to Claire at the police station where she can be patched up. With all of their loved ones safe, the Defenders return to the warehouse to continue their investigation.
While in the warehouse, Stick forces Matt to reveal that he and Elektra aka the Black Sky who has been beating on the heroes used to be lovers, and they discuss her resurrection, a term that freaks out both Jessica and Luke. They are all angry that Matt has been keeping secrets, while privately Stick has been pushing Matt to lead the team because he is, according to Stick, the most gifted fighter among them. Sowande reveals the fact that the Hand needs Iron Fist as some kind of “key,” and all hell breaks loose as Stick and the Defenders realize they need to keep Danny away from the Hand at all costs, something which Danny does not want to hear. While they talk, Sowande breaks loose and holds Danny captive, and to end his threat, Stick sneaks up and lobs off his head, thus ending one finger of the Hand. And then, in an odd character moment (or maybe not), Danny throws a hissy fit about being left out of the coming battle, his tantrum including the fact that he will fight the Hand alone if they will not include him, so of course, everyone teams up to take down Danny before he does something stupid. And to Danny’s credit, he holds his own against the team, even against Luke. However, after a particularly powerful blow between Luke and Danny that knocks everyone down, Jessica gets up quickly and delivers a punch to Danny’s head that knocks him out, allowing the rest of the team to tie up Danny so they can get back to work without worrying about him running around.
So while Luke and Stick watch over a bound Danny, Jessica and Matt go out looking for clues, heading to the architect’s family’s apartment to see if he left anything behind. While speaking to the daughter, they learn the man used to enjoy playing piano, and Matt decides to try it out himself, ignoring the eye rolls from Jessica. He discovers a flat note, and they open up the piano to discover blueprints inside, with marked points for where the man was going to lay the explosives Jessica found way back in Episode 1, allowing him to destroy the construction the Hand had going on below the Midland Circle Building.
As for the Hand, things are not going well, as Stick delivers Sowande’s severed head to them, and they are all pissed that Alexandre wasted the last of their resurrection juice on the Black Sky, who seems incapable of killing the Defenders, especially Matt Murdock. Murakami and Madame Gao are especially concerned now that Daredevil is back in the picture because they know of the connection between Daredevil and Elektra, and they question whether Alexandre made the right moves, though they still follow her at this point. Sadly for Alexandra, Elektra disappears during the discussion, somehow finding her way back to Matt’s apartment, where she sleeps on his bed, dreaming of her former life with Matt, and awakening with memories of where he kept the Daredevil suit. She tries to look for it but instead finds her funeral card, which leads her to her own grave, which is where Alexandra finds her, telling her that her past life is over, that Matt Murdock let her die, and they have work to do. She orders Elektra to kidnap Iron Fist once and for all, and newly charged in her mission, Elektra/Black Sky heads out to fulfill her duty.
Meanwhile, at the warehouse, Luke and Danny are bonding somewhat, with Luke telling Danny about his past relationship with Jessica, even as Danny struggles with his restraints. Stick lights some incense, which takes down Luke, and we learn Stick figured out a third option to stop the Hand. If they need Danny so badly, the best way to stop the Hand is simply to kill Danny, so they cannot get the Iron Fist. So with Luke incapacitated, Stick heads in for the kill, but he is stopped by Elektra, who shows up to kidnap Danny. Just then, Matt and Jessica return and all the Defenders are knocked down by Elektra (and kept down by the drugged incense) as Elektra kills Stick, and kidnaps Danny.
And in my favorite/most bizarre part of the episode, Alexandra is gloating to her Hand comrades about her triumphant plans and how everything that has happened is because of her, supremely happy to see the Black Sky performing as she wanted, even as Madame Gao warns her not to underestimate the Defenders. So Alexandra turns to Black Sky and orders her to kill Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and “the devil of Hell’s Kitchen,” and in that moment, Elektra returns, literally stabs and kills Alexandra in the back, and announces, “His name is Matthew,” right before she tells the other Hand leaders that she is in charge now.
Now while some might complain these episodes had a lot of exposition, and the big Chinese restaurant fight was not as big as it should have been, I thought these episodes were a lot of fun and moved with a nice pace to get through a lot of the story and service all of the characters fairly well. As always my biggest complaint will always be Finn Jones, but at least the show itself seems to not take him that seriously as even the rest of the Defenders manage to easily knock him down a few pegs in that fight scene. And I am sad to see Stick die, as he was one of my favorites, but definitely goes with the metaphor of Elektra destroying her parental figures to figure out who she is, Stick being the father figure of her past life, Alexandra the mother figure of her new life. I cannot wait to see what they do with this new Elektra and see what her motives will be now that she is servant to no one.