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The Defenders: Take Shelter

Jessica: “Nice ears.”
Daredevil: “They’re horns.”

We fear fanatics, who fight for ideology and abstractions. But we love heroes, who fight for personal motives that often wind up having political, large-scale consequences. After an episode that brought our group together, we get an episode that shows us the personal connections each Defender is putting at risk and hoping to save.

By the end of the episode, Claire, Misty, Karen, Foggy, Colleen, Trish, and Malcolm are camped out at the police precinct. It’s basically a room full of victims-in-waiting, which has me worried. But corralling all the non-supers into one space also shows just how many other secondary, superpowered characters are still roaming around New York, causing trouble for the Defenders.

Elektra, for instance, continues to be the thorn in Matt’s side. Twice, he left a group fight for a violent dalliance with his ex-girlfriend, and twice he refused to explain himself. And when he did, the group resisted. I’m in a bit of a bind with this plot, as I didn’t love Elektra’s effect on Matt in the second season of Daredevil, and I also don’t like the theme of Matt having an “addiction” to violence, which is how Foggy and Karen describe it.

But I do like the last scene, in which Elektra returns, almost unknowingly, to Matt’s apartment. And it is telling that what draws Matt to this fight is not the gigantic threat to his city, but the smaller threat to the woman he loves. Plus, his motives for entering the fight are affecting his ability to fight well, which is a fun complication.

Colleen, meanwhile, encounters Bakuto, her presumed-dead Hand mentor. I was unable to finish Iron Fist due to an intense doofus allergy, but Jessica Henwick did a wonderful job of demonstrating how tense and meaningful their relationship is. When she told Claire that she wanted something stable, it was hard not to cry along with her. All of that, of course, just makes me wish Colleen could be a Defender, too. As Claire points out, Colleen is a foundation. Maybe the Iron Fist powers are transferable?

Stick is allegedly on the side of the good, but he causes trouble left and right. He prods Matt into action—managing to make Matt just angry enough to realize he’s got to resume his Daredevil persona—and kills Sowonde. Impressive, since this is the first time we’ve seen a member of the Hand (I refuse to call them “fingers”) die. But brutal. As Matt said “shit will start to get dark in here.” It did.

That’s appropriate for the Hand, who are a dark and brutal group that tends toward intrigue. Murakami is unsure of Elektra, but hides that from Alexandra. Sowonde seemed to know more about Jessica than the others do. Gao and Bakuto are trying to play a complicated game, and their motives differ from Alexandra’s. And, like Matt, Alexandra’s connection with Elektra might be her weakness: her weapon is defective, and the rest of the Hand know it.

In other words, despite the formation of the group at the end of the previous episode, we’re not in a paradisiacal wonderland of united heroes with a common cause. The Defenders are more conflicted than The Hand, and more complicated than their mission would indicate. The Defenders—which seemed almost too fast-paced on my first watch—is taking just enough time to spell out those complications.

Hoodies, Horns, and Heroes:

• Sowonde: “You are the dumbest Iron Fist yet.”

• Misty: “It’s weird.” (She nailed this line.)

• Jessica: “Okay, to be clear, we’ve now used the word ‘resurrected’ three times.”

• Elodie Yung is surely wearing hair extensions, right? That is so much hair.

• Karen Page’s coat was black and red, just like Daredevil’s costume.

• Trish probably knows who Karen is because they’re both in media. But I like to think they know each other from membership in a Secret Club for Blondes.

• Madame Gao has always been awesome. But it wasn’t until this episode, when she talks about how all she wants is to go home, that I felt some sympathy for her.

Three out of four katanas.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Asking Matt not to fight is like asking Danny not to announce he is ''The immortal Iron Fist''..
    We tend to forget but Matt was trained just as intensely as Danny was to fight from an early age..That's not an addiction he was literally built to fight by Stick. The one thing in his character that they have mixed up a bit from the comics is the 'man with no fear' side of his personality. He will fight anything as he is in the dark all the time therefore has no real fears as he already conquered that what most others fear..It also leads so a certain amount of arrogance and overconfidence..That said Matt and Elektra's love is extremely toxic but also the only thing that binds both of them to something.
    Maybe i just can't stand Foggy and Karen...I liked them both until midway through last season when they just became insufferable over the space of 2 or 3 episodes.
    I did like how upset everyone was with Matt especially Jessica...and i like the subtlety they are using in her fights...She is the strongest but does not have martial arts so receives hits but is capable of one hit Ko's.
    All the Hand members and Elektra seem to be able to do damage to Luke but it can be explained as 'magic' and is in line with the comics..A little like Superman, Cage is not immune to Magic or internal damage.
    Also, Danny has been bearable for two episodes now, infact there is now a character who sucks even more...Bakuto.

  2. "You are the dumbest Iron Fist yet." Just too funny.

    I did watch all of Iron Fist because I promised to review it, and I thought Bakuto was actually one of the better characters. He started out positively as Colleen's sensei and mentor and felt like a good guy, and I liked him. His evil gradually emerged, of course.

  3. I'm really surprised at how likable Danny has become. Finn Jones is definitely the most shake-y of the bunch, but he isn't actually that bad when given a good script and good characterisation. And with the way they're going of "he's just looking for his family", that opens up a lot of roads to character development in his own series that could make Danny an enjoyable character. I'm honestly cautiously optimistic for Iron Fist season 2.

    But aside from the Danny issue, this episode was awesome! Jessica Jones, basically the coolest character ever. Full stop. I can't wait for the rest of the reviews, I've been enjoying reading them alot!

  4. One finger down, 4 to go. So I guess the denizens of Kun'Lun and by extent the Hand are from some mystical other dimension and they want the Iron Fist to open some door and go home.

    But I bet they won't elaborate on it further, just like we don't know after all this time what a Black Sky exactly is. From my perspective the Hand could just ressurect any trained fighter (using the same techniques as with Harold Meachum) to use as an enforcer, no need for some special ill-defined properties.

  5. If they don't have a Terminator style attack on the police precinct at some point during this series, I'm going to be very upset. They have the perfect set up for it! All of the important secondary characters, all in one place... why wouldn't the Hand attack? I'm not saying that I want these characters to die, but I want something!

    Sowonde's capture didn't sit right with me. Maybe it was the fact that we didn't actually see it, but I kept waiting for it to be a trap, for Luke to be compromised in some way. I guess not though!

    1. Dude! I love that idea! Totally didn't think of that! An attack on the precinct would have been intense! Also totally thought the same thing about his capture!

  6. I also used to love Foggy and Karen, now every time they open their mouths is like nails on a chalkboard. Iron Fist is less annoying than he was in his show. I think that it's a combination of the ribbing that the other defenders keep giving him and his hairstyle looks less 1970s-ish.


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