The Defenders: Ashes, Ashes

The truth is, you and I, we're not so different. We share the same home. We're both trying to return to it.

The team comes together and explodes in a dynamite episode that shows how the team is growing from working together, but also questions the nature and purpose of leadership. Who's going to lead the team? And who's going to lead the Hand?

Let's start with Danny Rand. When the episode begins, it's Sowande's head on the floor as quirky Stick shares his latest realization: Iron Fist is important to whatever the Hand wants to do, meaning can actually give them access to their goal. Danny goes from being the Immortal Iron Fist to the immature object that needs to be protected all in five minutes of Sowande revealing that Alexandra and the team need Danny alive to do whatever their plan requires. He's a key of some kind.


Danny, naturally, resists the Defenders' decision to keep Danny protected. He wants to be fighting. I also think that up till now Danny's seen himself as a leader in the group. Matt's done more, however, to protect team members, and Luke has done better at being a conscience. Matt's inability to share anything is killing his ability to lead, though, and I'm not sure Luke doesn't have too much baggage to make it work. Personally, I'd pick Matt for leader, and maybe the group does too, because he and Jessica go out to gather data while Luke and Stick stay behind to guard Danny. The bromance between Danny and Luke is a nice turnaround from the episode where Luke accused Danny of white privilege; they're starting to respect and connect. None of this protects Danny when Stick goes murderous and Elektra steps in for the win. I'm kind of nervous for Danny, and think we're going to be seeing the Thing at the Bottom of the Hole come up soon.

Before we move on: RIP Stick.

Yes, I love how the Defenders are slowly opening up to each other. Comrades in arms and all that. Related to this notion is the fact that I find Jessica one of my favorite heroes in this series, if underused. She's always been wisecracking and deeply sensitive. I feel she evolves somewhat in this episode. We've seen finely tuned sense of other people, particularly bullshit. Watching Jessica connect to Matt - and later, to Lexi Raymond, the dead architect's daughter - watching her use those connections to other people to open the way for discoveries and movement on the case, makes me realize how far she's come. She feels kind of underused on in this series; her strength isn't always a help with the skillful jumpy ninjas. But it's her commitment to her case and connection to her clients which are bringing the Defenders clue after clue. I just wish there was more to Jessica in the show than roundhouse wild punches and crankiness, and am glad to see her connecting with someone.

Poor Alexandra, former Middle Finger of the Hand. I found Alexandra so compelling a figure. Holding onto life, holding on to the beautiful things of life. Food. Music. And feeling it drain away from her, even with records when records simply got scratched or out of tune. I found the opening of this episode a nice balance to the end of the previous, with Elektra holding onto the detritus of her previous life in Matt's apartment and trying to make it real. Throughout the episode Alexandra was fighting the other Hand leaders, but it was the one person she took for granted she had to watch out for; Alexandra almost seems to be getting away with her plans, despite Sowande's death, when Black Sky/Electra turns around and kills her with the sai she finds on the wall. I was not expecting that, although I thought that BSE left slightly too quickly when Alexandra ordered her off and began the Final Rant. I can't say I'm unhappy though. While I thought Sigourney Weaver was compelling, I also thought Alexandra was becoming overly one-note. She has nothing additional to say at this point. She's rich, she wants to life long. Okay.

Compare this with our confusion about what's truly going on with Elektra. She seems to have come back to herself and become greatly powerful. Throughout the episode we see more and more of the original Elektra returning. But to me she doesn't seem quite normal either. Was she always this bloodthirsty? What will she do with Matt's teammate, now that she has him? What is the Black Sky exactly, and how is this new individual, combining elements of Black Sky and Elektra, going to do with Danny - and the Thing at the Bottom of the Hole? This show has jumped up its level of excitement, and BSE, who the hand once planned to use, now guides the Hand.

Bits/Tatters

Matt's moment with the piano was truly nice. He takes a leap of intuition and finds building blackprints. I think he and Jessica are going to develop real closeness after this episode.

Stick has also basically served his purpose for this show, right? Except as an enemy, he has nowhere to go. I'm glad the show's moved on.

What's happening with Misty and the Sidekick Squad, and Colleen, who was theoretically armed and released?

Quotables

Luke: Hey, won't you tell me again about how you punched the dragon and got your magic hand?
Danny: During the final trial of Shau-Lao the Undying, I plunged my fist into his molten heart.
Luke: Dude, I was kidding.

Luke: (comparing dude stuff)...got blasted in the face with a shotgun. By Jessica.
Danny: Our Jessica?
Luke: Trust me, I'd face a dragon over Jessica Jones any day.

Danny: What makes you think tying me up is the right choice? It seems like you're just making this up as you go along.
Stick: That's what survivors do.

Overall

Lots of high profile deaths in this episode, a trade-up for the leader, progress in realizing there's something Down There, and Danny captured by the Hand. Busy hour of television! Four out of five fighting sai.

5 comments:

Patryk said...

Stick resorting to killing was no suprise, I was even thinking why he hasn't stated the obvious. Well because he knows Matty will always try to stop him from killing that's why.

But the end of the episode was a suprise, not that Alexandra was killed, but that Elektra is apparently the Big Bad now. Can't wait to see where that leads.

JRS said...

Patryk - maybe, maybe not - if Danny does, does someone else become the Iron Fist? That person might be even more usable by the Hand. It makes sense to have the 'key' at least be in a position to defend themselves.

An Honest Fangirl said...

I was also wondering why Stick hadn't brought up the obvious: kill Danny, and the Hand can't use him. It was only a matter of time before he decided to take matters into his own hands. (Is that a pun? It feels like it could be a pun.)

My jaw dropped when Elektra killed Alexandra. I was not expecting that at all. It was definitely an excellent twist that made me want to immediately watch the next episode. We'll have to see how it plays out in the future though.

Overall, I really liked this episode. I liked Luke/Danny and Jessica/Matt bonding. I would definitely watch an episode that was just the four of them sitting in a room with lots of food and discussing their pasts and philosophical issues. I feel like it would be pretty compelling.

Anonymous said...

If you listen carefully Matt plays his very own Daredevil theme on the piano..Very Meta..
Impressed with the Matt vs Danny fight where Matt's experience told against Danny's slick finesse.
Elekra being the 'Black sky' simply means she can beat up Luke, Jessica and Matt at the same time and jump out a two storey building with Danny onto a car and it seems to heighten her characteristics from before. Don't read too much more into it because its never defined or explained.
Really wish that last fight scene had taken place at the Police station..They should have had Danny maneuvered there, that way the secondary characters would have had more involvement seeing what they were facing with there own eyes and Elektra's attack would have been more impactful and devastating there.
I did like the moment when Stick had the chance to kill Elektra but couldn't. Considering how he was down on Matt for his personal connections you could tell Matt and Elektra meant more to him...and he said as much at the start of the episode to Luke.
Jessica made massive strides in this episode...To call Matt her 'Friend' and she almost smiled. They need to bring these two together alot more frequently on their respective shows in future. Like ELektra, Jessica 'gets' Matt and Vice versa..That's Something i really don't like about Karen and Foggy lately, not accepting despite it's difficulty that Daredevil is part of who Matt is.
I love the way Elektra says ''Matthew''..

Josie Kafka said...

Related to this notion is the fact that I find Jessica one of my favorite heroes in this series, if underused. She's always been wisecracking and deeply sensitive

Well said. I sort of like the fact that the main female character also gets to be the comic relief (that doesn't happen often), but I do wish we got more of her.

We will, though! There's another Jessica Jones series coming up.