The Defenders: Mean Right Hook

"We’re not alone in this.”

The disparate storytelling of ‘The H Word’ continues into most of ‘Mean Right Hook’, with the stories of the core four continuing to play out in their own respective worlds. But while the preceding episode focused mainly on their own lives and what they’ve being doing since we last saw them, here we see them following different trails of breadcrumbs that all appear to be leading to the same thing. While the action is still pretty light at this point, the meeting of worlds is a lot more noticeable in this episode, as we watch each Defender get one step closer to uncovering the Hand’s mysterious plot, and one step closer to each other. Although, there’s still a sense that certain characters aren’t hugely important yet.

Matt was very much in on the action in the aftermath of the not-earthquake, making a split second decision to return to his crime-fighting ways and save a few kids caught up in the looting that took place amidst the post-quake chaos. It’s inevitable that he will take up his horned mantle again, but we need to see how he gets to that point, and standing by idly while listening in on the despair around him felt like enough of a jolt to get him on the path to fighting again. But for all his impressive back flips and quick dispatching of armed goons, he still feels largely removed from the more intriguing investigation that Jessica is chasing. That is until Foggy steers him in the right direction.

Naturally Jessica gets caught up in the thick of the Hand’s plot pretty quickly. Hogarth was on the mark when she said it’s only matter of time before trouble finds Jessica, or to put it more accurately, before Jessica finds trouble herself. Her investigation into the disappearance of the seemingly normal architect John Raymond lead Jessica to that terrifying stash of explosives in the previous episode, and here she comes face to face with him and his desperation to comply with the Hand’s demands. As a villain the Hand still feel relatively unknown, even this far into the game, but the terror evident in John’s actions, and subsequent suicide, only serve to make them a more imposing threat.

One of my major gripes with ‘The H Word’ was how the respective stories of the four Defenders felt very disjointed. I appreciated the attempt to maintain the differences in each of the Defender’s world views, with Luke’s scenes still maintaining the visual flourish of Harlem and its exciting culture, and Jessica’s scenes continuing to exhibit the noir inspired ambiance of her own mother series. But there were very few attempts to marry these scenes together, and as a result we were left with several chunks of story that were strong in their own right, but didn’t have a whole lot to do with each other.

With characters like Misty butting heads with Jessica, and the aftermath of the quake binding each of the Defenders' respective plots together, the pacing that felt so staggered in the previous episode starts to pick up significantly. Obviously the highlight of that uptick in momentum is the eventual meeting between Luke and Danny, and later, Matt and Jessica. We’re here to see these guys meet and team up, so it I’m glad we weren't waiting for them to cross paths for too long.

Initially, Luke is very much removed from all of the Hand weirdness. He spends most of this episode trying to lend a helping hand to Cole, who’s caught up with a mysterious new player named Whitehat. Though it’s a lot of fun, it feels pretty irrelevant at first, at least until Luke tracks Cole to a clean-up operation, tasked with tidying up a mass of bodies left behind by the Hand. As luck would have it, Danny’s own lead brings him to the same place at the same time.

Was it intentional that Danny’s kung fu looked slightly ridiculous against Luke’s own stoic and bemused approach to fighting? I’m not sure, but either way I enjoyed watching Danny dancing around Luke like a lunatic, eventually getting his ass handed to him. But I also enjoyed watching Danny knock Luke down with his own special gift, too. I’m glad that the show has paired the characters up this way to start; they come from two completely different worlds, so it’ll be interesting to see how or if they come to an agreement to work together later on.

As I mentioned before, the Hand still feel like a relatively faceless menace, but Alexandra is a fascinating facet of the organisation. The secrecy surrounding her true intentions borders on aggravating, but I like how the character is being drawn so far, and Sigourney Weaver is unsurprisingly knocking her scenes out of the park. I also love seeing Gao in a less controlling position, as she’s always been a character that’s remained one step ahead of those around her. Now she’s not the only one in charge, though her decision to question Alexandra's instructions (even just a little) makes me think she’ll remain one step ahead by the time things blow over.

Plus

Alexandra has Stick, and it seems as though they share an interesting past together.

Alexandra’s remark about Brahms hints that she’s much older than she looks.

Misty expected Jessica to be bigger in person.

I loved that scene of Jessica following each of the Hand’s asset transfers back through to the 1800’s, and her going so far back that she ran out of paper information. They really have been hiding here for quite a while, haven’t they?

I would have expected Trish to have her own underground parking space for someone of her celebrity? Seems odd she’d be stuck parking on the street.

He Said, She Said

Jessica: “Can I go now, dipshit?”
I’ve missed her potty mouth.

Alexandra: “Time is not something I can afford to waste.”

In general, this episode felt like more of the same place setting we saw in 'The H Word'. While certain parts were intriguing, namely Jessica’s escapades, the rest felt a little more routine than it should have. It was inevitable that we’d face a bit of a wait before things started to really kick off but now that we’ve managed to bring our Defenders together, at least partially, we can finally see this series start to deliver on what it promised.

3 out of 5 Tsukamoto swords.

7 comments:

An Honest Fangirl said...

I was so excited when I saw that Matt would be Jessica's lawyer. I've been waiting for this moment for years! It was like fan fiction made real, and it was beautiful.

Otherwise, I also really liked Luke and Danny's meeting. They're two very different characters, and seeing both of them realize that the other isn't just a normal guy was a treat to watch. You're right, Panda, Danny did seem a little ridiculous dancing around Luke. He always seems a little ridiculous, but it was only amplified when you put him next to someone more grounded in reality. It really drove home the point that those two are dealing with two completely different things. Luke just wants to protect Cole, Danny is hunting down some mystical organization that's been around since before there's a paper trail.

Billie Doux said...

I agree, Panda and Fangril -- Danny trying to knock Luke down was hilarious, but oddly, I also enjoyed Danny's fist taking Luke down. What fun, that Matt turned up as Jessica's lawyer. I'm glad they're already coming together.

And I really liked how they showed the elevated trains when they segued from one lead character to another. Very New York.

Sigourney knew Brahms. So that's why she's dying. She must be very, very old.

Anonymous said...

Jessica is just a treasure..She is somehow everybody's spirit animal.

Patryk said...

Great that they did not take all episodes in meeting up. For now in 2 pairs but it's better then nothing. Episode 3 should be really fun watching them interact.

Did we ever learn about Stick's organization? I guess they were the ones killed in the crime scene and he was kidnapped from there.

I also guess that the Hand is digging in that hole they dug up under the building Fisk bought them and that we saw in season 2 of Daredevil and that's where they found the door that look like a wall.

I'm hoping all that the Hand did over the previos shows will get explained in the end.

Josie Kafka said...

Was it intentional that Danny’s kung fu looked slightly ridiculous against Luke’s own stoic and bemused approach to fighting? I’m not sure, but either way I enjoyed watching Danny dancing around Luke like a lunatic, eventually getting his ass handed to him.

Yes, Panda. Yes.

Patryk, it does get explained.

I thought this was the slowest episode of the eight. Things start to pick up soon!

Lamounier said...

I was dying to see Jessica and Matt meet, and YAY, it happened! Ok, it was very quick, but still. There is more right around the corner.

Charlie Cox’s body language is incredible. The way he moves his head and body to convey Matt’s perception of sounds and surroundings, it amazes me.

I loved Claire asking Luke if NYPD was paying him for doing their job. Very on point, Claire.

Jessica is just a treasure..She is somehow everybody's spirit animal.

Anon, yes. God, I wish I had half of her sass.

Panda said...

Jessica's sass is unrivalled. As is the sass of whoever runs the Jessica Jones twitter account. I hope whoever that is is well compensated for their perfect comebacks.