The Defenders: Fish in the Jailhouse

"It's been a long week."

My name is Danny Rand. After fifteen years in K'un-Lun, I have come home with only one goal: to be in a good television series. But to do that, I can't be the immature, stupid Iron Fist I once was. I must become something else. I must become -

Oh. Wait. Sorry. I'm mixing up my blonde, billionaire vigilantes that are associated with the color green again. My bad.

All joking aside, I am a little annoyed with Danny. Elektra literally spelled out her plan for him: to use him, the Iron Fist, to open up the sealed door. He knew what she wanted him to do. And he still powered up his hand and just started wildly swinging in the direction of the door. Listen, Danny, you're a pretty good looking guy. There were moments where you were actually rather funny instead of annoying. But if you have more than a couple of brain cells between those ears of yours, I'm in shock.

Besides opening up the door, I'm a little confused about Elektra's goals here. She obviously wants the substance, but why? To ensure her own immortality? To ensure immortality for both her and Matt? She's still in love with him, right? That's what the flashback that opened this episode seemed to suggest.

Elektra said that she took her own destiny, that she freed herself from her masters. Unfortunately, that does very little to explain her motives. And due to all of the uncertainty surrounding her, I'm having a very hard time rooting either for or against her. As great as the twist of her killing Alexandra was, I'm not sure if it was the smartest move storywise. Alexandra had clear motives and goals that were actually rather sympathetic. Elektra has none of that, and I think it made the episode suffer as a whole.

For a penultimate episode, it felt like very little happened. The momentum of the series as a whole stalled a little. Too much time was spent in the precinct watching people argue or reiterate things about the characters that we already know. And then when we finally did have something happen, it was kind of a let down.

Don't get me wrong, I liked seeing Luke, Matt, and Jessica go up against the three remaining members of the Hand. But the fight itself didn't make a lot of sense. It felt over stylized and didn't have the epic feeling that I was expecting it to. It was also pretty hard to follow with the cuts between that fight and Elektra and Danny's fight. It really wasn't their best work. Hopefully this just means that they're saving something truly special for the finale. Besides the hallway fight back in "Worst Behavior", we really haven't seen the Defenders fight as a team yet. I'm looking forward to that.

As I was watching this episode, I began to feel a little sad for Jessica. As I mentioned before, there were a lot of scenes of characters just talking. We got Karen and Foggy worrying about Matt's Daredeviling, Claire and Misty talking about Luke's possibly foolish determination to do the right thing, and Colleen worrying about Danny's safety. Jessica didn't have a matching conversation. There was no scene of Trish and Malcolm worrying about Jessica or talking about how this team up might be her path to rejoining society.

It really highlighted just how isolated Jessica really is compared to everyone else. It also has the unfortunate drawback of making her feel a bit removed from everything that's happening. Maybe not the overarching plot, but definitely in the smaller, more intimate moments. I wonder if this is an intentional storytelling tactic or simply a byproduct of too many characters and not enough screen time. Even in Avengers someone gets sidelined a little, whether it's Hawkeye or Thor. I hope that it's the former rather than the latter, but I honestly can't tell either way.

Finally, I have to talk about the lighting. The show's approach to it is simply amazing and fills me with the urge to write a far too long paper about it. Don't worry. I'll try to restrain myself here. As you've probably picked up on by now, every Defender and the Hand have their own colors. This color affects lighting, scenery, props, the color of the character's clothing, essentially everything.

And it wasn't present in this episode at all. I specifically rewatched it to make sure. It's not because a lot of characters are all together; the Chinese restaurant was absolutely awash with color. I've thought about this for awhile, and I've managed to come up with two possible explanations.

The first is that the Hand is so dominant at the moment that their color, white, has infected every scene. They're essentially winning. They have the Iron Fist, who through his own stupidity unlocks the door for them. Jessica, Matt, and Luke spend the majority of the episode trapped in the police precinct with no feasible way out that won't have serious, lasting repercussions. By any measure of the word, they've won. They succeeded in their goal.

The second is a little bit happier: The Defenders are finally a team. Well, most of them. Danny's off being a captive. But the other three are no longer three people that just so happen to be fighting for the same purpose. They're now a unified team that trusts each other and relies on each other. There's no need for them to have an individual color anymore because they're no longer individuals.

I can't claim to know which is right, if either of them. Maybe it's a combination of the two. Regardless, it's fun to analyze and theorize about.

Random Thoughts 


There was no jail assault by the Hand.

I am very, very upset by this fact. They literally had the perfect opportunity for a Terminator style assault on the precinct. It's in the freaking episode title. "Fish in a Jailhouse" = Fish in a Barrel? No? I've been waiting for this every since everyone was gathered together in one place. Why wasn't this a thing? It should have been a thing.

Was that a dragon skeleton? Presumably the same/similar dragon to the one that Danny has tattooed on his chest?

Seeing Matt, Luke, and Jessica in the metro made me laugh. The Defenders as a whole has actually been surprisingly funny.

Loved Luke stopping the fire with his hand.

I don't like that Claire is at Midpoint Circle. She better make it through the next episode.

Okay, Danny's dialogue about serving his masters and K'un-Lun sounds ridiculous, right? Like, completely removed from the world that the other three live in.

Quotes:


Matt: They got an APB out on us. They think you guys kidnapped me.

Jessica: Do we have time to grab a drink? Or three?
Luke: Having second thoughts?
Jessica: No. Maybe. You?
Luke: No. Maybe.

Claire: You know what his [Luke's] true north is? Doing the right thing, no matter the consequence. Far as I can tell, he's finally finding his place in the world.
Misty: Look, I just don't want to see him lose everything that he's worked hard for. I'm just trying to help. Harlem can't afford to lose him.
Claire: You know, on his first day out of lockup, you took him on a walk and told him that he was capable of turning this city around. Of saving somebody. That's exactly what he's trying to do right now. It may not be convenient for you or the NYPD. It's really not convenient for me. But we're damn lucky that he's the kind of man that doesn't let anything stand in his way.


I loved that speech too much not to transcribe it in full. While it's specifically about Luke, it can really apply to all of our Defenders. Seven episodes down. One to go. Let's do this.

Three out of four jailbreaks.

An Honest Fangirl loves superheroes, science fiction, fantasy, and really bad horror movies. And sometimes she writes about them.

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Much agreement about Danny Rand. I like how the series has separated him from the other three. They're the grown up superheroes, he's the hostage and way too much of a kid, even though he's a grown man. I groaned when he fell for Elektra's trick, getting him to use his glowing fist on the Door, or whatever it is.

Fangirl, I really liked what you said about the fact that everyone else's loved ones got to pull their person aside, but no one was there for Jessica. And as much as loved the three of them on the train, I was sad that Jessica stole that can of beer.

And I was also disappointed with the fight in the garage. It was just too dark to see well, and I was confused about what happened in the end. Although it was cool of Colleen to show up and jump into the fight. It was also cool of Misty to take sides. The right side, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I think they have done a very good Job with Jessica's character..While i agree she wasn't as involved with the plot. (Her show/characters have had the least to do with the Hand)
But i don't think she has just been left out...I think they have done some very subtle character work with her..Re connecting with Luke after everything, they had more moments than you realize, watching the series back i noticed..She also builds a solid bond with Matt throughout and i loved the detail in this episode where she was leading Matt around the police station in light of his 'blindness' and he was holding onto her arm. Her slowly becoming receptive to people over the 8 episodes was done well.She even initiated a conversation about trust with someone .In fact you could argue she had the best character arc out of the 4 leads.
The end of the last episode should have been in this episodes location..I think everyone was expecting that Terminator scenario as soon as all the characters where in one location. It also would have stopped the unnecessary conversations and Karen being annoying. Also people like Misty, Trish and the rest of the police needed to experience first hand what they were facing. That may have fixed the Jessica being 'removed' from proceedings problem in this episode and Karen and Foggy's annoying but understandable reservations.
Black Sky=Never lose a fight..Elekra has been straight beast this season so im overlooking her lack of motivation..She loves Matt and just wants to be wild and have fun..and strangely that's enough for me. She is still a complex character even if she makes no sense.

Josie Kafka said...

That's a really good observation about the colors, Fangirl!

To throw another possible theory into the mix: I wonder if the Defenders get colors because they are colorful (metaphorically speaking). And their colors get dimmed when they are trapped between law (the police) and outlaws (the Hand). The "law" is portrayed in real-world tones and the Hand is, in this show, all about washed-out grays and whites.

Patryk said...

Having no assault on the precint was a waste. Especially that they deserved to have it taken out on them for all the stupid questioning and trying to pin Stick's murder on the Defenders at the start of the episode. Uncooperative police in super-hero shows really annoys me.

Danny got baited like... well Danny. At least his characterization is consistant. :)