The Defenders: Worst Behavior

"Who? Who?"
"My child, you are everything."

I've been thinking about why The Defenders is such a great watching experience and here is my rather simple take on it: it's a gigantic crossover event. While there have been many awesome crossovers in the past, we are talking here about an entire season of different shows coming together into one single story. It's incredibly satisfying to see all four smaller universes aligning in moments like Misty meeting Jessica in the previous episode or Claire rolling her eyes when she realizes the glowy-fist guy Luke fought is no one other than Danny.

This episode uses the cathartic power of a crossover with aplomb, combining the heroes in two great duos, delving into the Big Bad's goal and the resurrection of Elektra, and delivering the first Defenders team up in a electric fight scene.

Let's start with Luke and Danny. Their interactions were good, mostly because they consisted of Luke saying right to Danny's face a couple of things the internet has been saying ever since Iron Fist premiered. In fact, that's a clever way to turn the audience around a mostly unloved character. I have to say, though, that while Luke was totally right about Danny being privileged and attacking a young man who wasn't, I wish Danny had replied that at first he didn't know the identity of the person he attacked. He only knew they were cleaning up the dead bodies the Hand left behind, and, just like Luke, he was following leads.

But you know Danny? Cute boy, not that bright. He needed Luke to spell it out for him to go after the higher ups in order to do it. And I have absolutely no idea of what he was hoping to accomplish with his speech to Midland Circle's CEOs. He said he was there to expose them. How? Well, at least it led to a great fight scene, and it was great even before Luke popped up to join him.

What led Luke to Midland Circle was very heartbreaking. A woman losing all of her children is heavy stuff. There is something to be said about privilege here. Most mothers of multiple children don't have to go through the pain Delores now has to endure. But the moms that live in the periphery where street level criminality is right around the corner? They might not be so lucky. Her desperate cry of "all my babies is gone" was so raw and emotional. When Misty told Luke she only had one child left, I hoped the writers wouldn't go there and kill her remaining kid. Now I hope Luke adopts her as a mom.

While the pairing of Danny and Luke was good, Jessica and Matt were an absolute hoot together. Marvel Powers That Be, please, let these two crossover to each other's shows. Please! Where do I begin?

Matt: "Ms. Jones, may I ask how long you've been a PI?"
Jessica: "No."
Matt: "Are you always this rude to people trying to help you?"

LOL. Of course Jessica didn't give Matt one cent of attention, and of course he decided to go after her. That sequence where she realized he was following her and ended up following him was a treat. She still had zero patience with him when he ran into her later, but at least they had enough understanding of one another to fight side by side.

One bit that I liked from their first meeting was Matt addressing right away he knew about Kilgrave. It established that Matt perceived Jessica as one of the good guys, albeit it made her very uncomfortable. Jessica can put up a wall of give-no-shit attitude, but she deeply cares. She asked a recently widowed woman if her late husband didn't have any "weird fetish". That is an incredibly tactless thing to ask but she only asked it because she cares, because she wants to get to the bottom of the case. Clean heart, dirty mouth, Jessica is a blast of a character. A show of her reading recipes would be entertaining.

Apart from following Jessica, Matt didn't have much to do. But this episode was very important to him as he fought against Elektra and at some point realized who he was fighting against. Will he be able to get through to her? Is her love for him somewhere deep inside her troubled tabula rasa-ed mind?


The flashbacks to her resurrection were very good. There was a lot of symmetry in the cinematography of her rebirth and retraining. Both Alexandra and Stick have trained her to be a weapon and not much more than that. In a primal state, she asks who she is. She looks at herself on a rusty mirror, unable to see her true image. The ritual that brought her back might have erased her memories, but didn't erase her instincts. And love, to a great extent, is an instinct. It's physical. I don't know if she will get her memories back, but there might be enough of her left that will enable her to make her own choices, far away from Alexandra's agenda. And seeing Matt again might help with that.

With both Matt and Danny having dealt with the Hand before, the writers needed to give Jessica and Luke their own entry ways into the story. Well, they didn't need to, they could have just had Claire assemble everyone to help Danny against the Hand, but I'm glad they chose a more organic path that gave Jessica and Luke personal motivation to join the fight. That adds texture to a story that could've been a generic "heroes face a big conspiracy" from their end. I'm actually more emotionally invested in Luke and Jessica bringing the tiniest solace to the families they are helping than on the grand scheme of things.

Not that the grand scheme of things is bad, I'm enjoying it a lot. Sigourney Weaver is doing a terrific job and I find myself caring about her Alexandra more and more. It appears from this episode that the Hand's fountain of resurrection is draining. Is that why they need to destroy New York? They kill thousands of people and in return a higher entity gives them the gooey red liquid of resurrection? That might not be exactly it, since Alexandra said she had gone through death and resurrection herself, but that she didn't want to go through it again. We are still collecting the pieces of the story, but if this episode is any indication, the assembling time has already started.

Colors and Pieces

- Stick is a tough man. It is very unlikely that Stick would have the time to cut his hand off and prevent an attack from Elektra but still, damn, what a badass move.

- Sigourney Weaver tastes food and it's important. That's good acting, guys.

- Are all Midland Circle's CEOs ninjas or weren't those guys CEOs to begin with?

- It was pretty ridiculous that Danny interrupted Colleen only to say the exact same thing she was saying.

- I hope it's clear to everyone that Danny is the Immortal Iron Fist.

- Danny tried to summon his chi and failed.

- But when it worked, Danny destroying Elektra's weapon with his glowy fist was pretty cool.

- When Luke joined the fight, the score switched to street music. Pretty cool detail.

- It was too late for Cole to do the right thing, but at least he led Luke to an important piece of information.

- I love that each defender has their color, but here the set designers clearly got carried away:


- Best gag of the episode: Jessica casually walking out of the elevator just as Matt finished climbing his way up through the stairs.

- Another good Jessica & The Elevator bit: when she nonchalantly pressed the button to call the elevator in the middle of the fight.

- Jessica and Luke casually catching up was also a good moment, but I thought there would be more tension between the two of them.

Quotes

Alexandra: "We are not doing the torture song and dance. Not anymore."
Stick: "Shame. I grew to like that part."

Jessica to Matt: "I didn't know she [Hogarth] did diversity hires."

Danny: "He punched me."
Luke: "You punched first."
Claire: "Seriously?"

Danny: "The money? That doesn't define me."
Luke: "Maybe not. But that kid is sitting in a jail cell tonight and you are not."

Luke: "I know privilege when I see it."

Cole: "He is next level dangerous."
Luke: "So am I."

Jessica: "Okay, you are the most full of shit lawyer I have ever met, and I think we should stop and appreciate the magnitude of that statement."
Jessica, please, never change.

Jessica: "You look like an asshole."
Matt: "It's your scarf.

This was the best one so far. Three and a half out of four scarfs.
--
Lamounier

6 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Loved it. That get-acquainted group fight in the white hallway at the end was great. Probably the most I've enjoyed a fight scene in a long time. Although how stupid was it for Danny to walk into that boardroom alone and confront the Hand?

Wonderful review, Lamounier.

An Honest Fangirl said...

At this point, I think I've given up on hoping that Danny will act rationally. I feel bad for saying it, if only because I'm sure that Finn Jones is a good guy and he is very pretty, but I can't help but roll my eyes every time he thinks that he has a good idea.

That being said, the other three more than make up for him. Jessica and Matt finally meeting was hilarious and wonderful. The hallway fight was wonderful. Luke dealing with Cole and his mother... wonderful is the wrong word but it was very emotionally moving.

Also, I love how you mentioned that the set designer sometimes gets carried away. I've noticed that a couple of times now, and it's a little distracting.

Josie Kafka said...

Let's start with Luke and Danny. Their interactions were good, mostly because they consisted of Luke saying right to Danny's face a couple of things the internet has been saying ever since Iron Fist premiered. In fact, that's a clever way to turn the audience around a mostly unloved character.

Yes! And what's really impressive is that I think they filmed most of The Defenders before Iron Fist aired, so the creators aren't even responding entirely to internet fan anger. They're fixing problems they seem to have seen in Iron Fist even without the fan feedback.

It was pretty ridiculous that Danny interrupted Colleen only to say the exact same thing she was saying.

Yes! The term "mansplaining" can get overused. But then Danny Rand gives us a great example of its continued relevance.

"I didn't know she [Hogarth] did diversity hires."

I initially misread this as "I didn't know Hogwarts did diversity hires." :-)

I loved this episode, especially Matt leapfrogging up the stairs as Jessica took the elevator. Those two are a fascinating pairing.

I liked the Cafe Bustalo, by the way. I used to drink that stuff.

TJ said...

Wasn't this a great ep?!?!? Jessica is stealing the show by now...

Anonymous said...

Matt and Jessica is definitely something to watch out for in future...

Patryk said...

Luke reacting to the absurdity of all the Iron Fist stuff was my favorite and I was laughing all scene long.

In the hallway fight was Jessica pulling her punches? She should also crush people into walls with her super strength just like Luke did to one guy during the fight.