These are the episodes where things finally start coming together for ‘The Defenders,’ and I mean both the group and the series. With everyone sharing screen time the series moves along at a much faster pace, weak links suddenly do not look so bad (even Iron Fisted ones), and the whole narrative just seems that much more fun once you see Jessica Jones rolling her eyes as the group discusses the mystical group known as ‘The Hand’ and their ability to bring people back from the dead.
These episodes also delve more into what is going on with Alexandra and Elektra, as we learn that Alexandra apparently used the last of the Hand’s resources to revive the Black Sky (a decision that does not make those around her happy), but the result is a killing machine entirely loyal to Alexandra who supposedly does not have any of Elektra’s memories (aka weaknesses) from her past life. The montage scenes of Elektra being trained were fun, but nothing too inventive there that we had not seen before, though I did like the visuals of her choosing a weapon, and her continuing to linger over those sais spoke volumes about how much of her past memories were truly gone, even if she did not choose them at first. And for the comic book fans, it was fun to finally see Elektra get a red costume, bringing her more in line with her comic counterpart, though I did find it odd that the “Black Sky” would not be outfitted in black. And while we’re on the subject, is the Black Sky simply a super-powered Elektra? Don’t get me wrong, she seems fairly bad-ass and able to move quickly and with an incredible amount of strength at her disposal, but with all of the build up about the Black Sky in ‘Daredevil,’ I was really hoping for something more.
So how does everyone meet up? Well, after showing up at the police station to be Jessica’s lawyer, Matt warns her to stay away from the architect investigation as he realizes it is tied to the Hand, and she blows him off and fires him as her lawyer. So he follows her to keep her safe, only she knows she is being followed, and a fun game of switcheroo ensues whereas Jessica turns the tables on Matt and follows him instead, and manages to snap some pics of him doing some distinctly Daredevil-esque moves as he escapes down an alleyway. Jessica then learns through some subterfuge that her architect last designed a building for Midland Circle, and she decides to check it out. When she arrives, she is warned away by Matt who has continued to follow her. She threatens him with the photos of his acrobatics, but he quickly destroys her camera, just as they hear a disturbance from within the building. Matt grabs her scarf and wraps it around his head as a disguise (“You look like an ass” she quips, as he returns “It’s your scarf”) and they head inside to find out what is going on.
Following his run in with Danny, Luke goes home and tells Claire all about his run in with the strange guy with the glowing fist, and Claire realizes her super friends need to meet. So while Colleen and Claire wait in the back room of the dojo, Danny and Luke meet for the first time outside of combat, and it is clear it is going to take some time before the two become the friends they are in the comics. Luke doesn’t take Danny very seriously (none of us do, Luke, none of us do) and he goes on to berate Danny for not using his power to change the world or to help anyone, even before he was the Iron Fist. He explains that Cole was just a kid and not the real problem, and Danny for once is silenced by someone as he realizes Luke might just have a point.
Afterwards, Luke goes to visit Cole in prison, but the kid still will not ask for help. He does, however, send Luke to visit his mother, which is where Luke was when Cole’s mom learns that Cole was killed in prison. While there, Luke finds a clue leading him to Midland Circle, and we can see things are about to get interesting. Meanwhile, heeding Luke’s words, Danny decides to use Rand Enterprises instead of his Iron Fist powers and tracks down former business dealings with the Hand to find out what company they used, and surprise, surprise he learns the company is called Midland Circle and has a new building downtown.
So Danny dresses in his business best and heads there to berate the board and tell them he is going to bring them down, as both a business and as the Hand. While he does this Alexandra walks in, and we learn she is impressed by Danny’s restraint, and that she wants Danny alive, as earlier Madame Gao informed her of a literal wall they had hit in their project, and Alexandra has guessed they need a key to get past it, and that the Iron Fist is that key. Alexandra orders the board, who of course are all Hand members, to attack Danny and take him alive, and we honestly get one of the best Danny Rand fights on screen, which isn’t saying much because they handled him terrible in ‘Iron Fist.’ Eventually, things get a little too much even for Danny, but then Luke Cage arrives, followed shortly after by Matt and Jessica, and the Defenders finally are all together.
They fight their way out of the building, even past the Black Sky herself (who Matt does not realize is Elektra until near the end of their fight), in yet another Marvel/Netflix hallway fight, and then they flee to a neighborhood chinese restaurant for the next episode to recover and meet one-another, with Danny buying the owner’s help with rent money and ordering one of everything from the menu after they barricade the restaurant’s entrance and make sure it is empty except for the cook and the owner.
Danny tries to catch everyone up on what is really going on, Jessica and Luke are still skeptical because it sounds insane to have a group like the Hand running around, but then they are joined by Stick, who has recently escaped torture by Alexandra and Elektra by cutting off his own hand, and he informs them that they are the only hope for New York, while also giving a history lesson about the origins of the Hand, and the five “fingers,” heads of the Hand who have been leading it since the beginning. Matt reluctantly shares his identity with the group, though he is not thrilled to be working with Stick, and Jessica decides she has had enough, leaving them to their own devices as she goes to check on the architect’s family.
Meanwhile, Alexandra, knowing Danny now has a team around him, has decided to assemble her own team, in the form of the remaining fingers of the Hand, Madame Gao, Whitehead, Murakami (who was the power behind the ‘Daredevil’ villain Nobu) and herself, to take down the Defenders and collect Iron Fist. Jessica meanwhile, learns that the architect’s family is being watched, and she takes down the guy in the surveillance van, realizing that even he knows Kung Fu and that she might be needed by her allies. Back at the Chinese restaurant, the gang prepares to be attacked as both Matt and Stick have heard the Hand members approach, though they somehow missed Alexandra slipping inside to offer them another option: give up Danny Rand and they can all walk away unharmed. Of course they turn it down, and the attack is about to begin, starting with the Black Sky herself, who smashes through the barricade of the front door and prepares to charge at our heroes. Fortunately for them, Jessica drives the surveillance van through the front of the restaurant and right into Elektra, knocking her down for the moment, as Jessica exits and joins her colleagues, quipping “Miss me?” as the group prepares for the Hand onslaught.
Definitely a lot more fun with everyone together, though Jessica and Luke Cage are clearly stealing the show with the best lines, mainly because they are the most fleshed out and interesting characters, which is odd because they are making Matt out to be the supposed leader of the Defenders, and Danny is supposed to be so important because of that damn Iron Fist. Part of me kind of wanted them to give Danny to the Hand and have him be a hostage for the rest of the season just so we did not have to waste any more screen time on Finn Jones (ah, wishful thinking). Still, even despite that, I am loving the series up to the point, and cannot wait to see more battles with all of the heroes joined together, and see what answers we will finally get from the show.