Defenders: Royal Dragon


All Together Now…

Finally brought together in “Worst Behavior,” the four heroes spend most of “Royal Dragon” together. The title refers to a Chinese restaurant they hide out in, despite the workers’ various protests. The four of them storming in ignoring the poor workers is a good bit of the beginning of the episode, and makes for some good comic relief.

Also very entertaining is the four of them reacting to each other, since, aside from Jessica and Luke, none of them have spent any time together. Their interactions are great, surprises ranging from powers to language to skills to weird quirks (Who hears neon indeed, Mr. Cage?). Luke and Jessica take a few moments to catch up.

Danny’s unique way of persuading the staff to let them stay draws more stares from the others, and some introductions are exchanged, although Matt refuses to give his name. There’s more banter among the characters, and then dinner is served, another part of Danny’s negotiations. Most of what passes among them is a combination of information exchange, disbelief (“No, really, what are they called?”), and debate about whether they should work together or not. Jessica convinces Matt to participate more by figuring out who he is, although she keeps getting his codename wrong. He finally shares his name.

After the credit scene, they focus on Elektra. She stares at herself in the mirror, looking confused at her old scars. Alexandra comes in and talks about her about Elektra’s new life as Black Sky. After a sort of a pep talk, Alexandra leaves, and Elektra goes back to staring at the mirror.

Back at the restaurant, Danny and Luke are surprised to learn Matt is, or was, Daredevil. Matt talks about keeping his secret to protect others, which Cage understands. Then they go back to the ongoing argument about working together or not. Jessica, to no great surprise, is probably the loudest proponent of splitting up. Their debate, and Jessica’s scoffing about Danny’s powers, is interrupted when they get a guest.

Stick has arrived, and Matt is far from happy to see his former mentor. Stick tells them the four of them need to save New York. Once again, the loudest disbelief is from Jessica, although Matt isn’t very happy about this idea, either. Jessica is practically allergic to the idea of doing something heroic, and Matt just plain doesn’t trust Stick.

As the heroes (Sorry, Jessica) argue, the focus shifts back to Alexandra. She has a meeting with a mysterious man who apparently goes out into the wilds to fight endangered animals for fun. Presumably that hobby and his grisly occupation while Alexandra talks to him are to help cement the fact that he’s a really bad guy. Eventually, she persuades him that the Iron Fist’s three unique allies pose an actual problem for them. Elsewhere, White Hat confronts Elektra about her recent failures, and she demonstrates her skills.

Back at the Royal Dragon, Stick provides some history about the clash between the Hand and the Chaste, and drives Jessica into more fits of disbelief and annoyance. Then again, when isn’t Jessica annoyed? After a lot of mystic history, Jessica can’t take anymore and storms off. Luke tries to persuade her to stay, but she’s not having it.

As the others realize she’s not coming back, Matt comments that she has her own life, no matter how big or small, and she’s entitled to live it. It’s a weird combination of understanding and condescension, but Matt’s good at that. After more debate and byplay, Luke insists on some more answers about what’s going on. I don’t know what would happen if Luke fought Stick, but it’d be interesting to watch, preferably from a distance.

Alexandra gets dressed up with the help of some maids and gets ready for a night out, although we get a reminder that she’s having some problems besides the heroes. Jessica, meanwhile, goes through the pictures she took of the documents during her research. In a scene very reminiscent of one from Highlander, she gets some proof about at least some of what Stick has been saying.

Stick offers the history of the Hand, the elders of K’un-Lun, and his order, the Chaste. Everyone learns a lot, but tempers start to flare. Matt and Danny come close to fighting. Luke urges Danny to calm down, which doesn’t go well, but at least no one comes to blows. Matt talks about what the Hand has cost him and then goes over to the windows. It’d be a nice dramatic move, except that 1) he should be smart enough to stay away from the window and 2) he can’t see out it, so I’m not sure what the point is there, aside from maybe some distance from the others.

In a haze of concern and whiskey, Jessica calls on Mrs. Raymond. Having learned even more about what’s going on, Jessica is concerned about her client. Jessica also learns that someone else is showing interest in the Raymond family and leaves, watched closely by some really obvious surveillance. I mean, this guy isn’t even trying to be subtle.

Luke and Danny are bonding a bit, over both shared experiences and food. Cage is impressed at Danny’s appetite, which I get, considering the size difference between them and the amount of food Danny is putting away. It’s almost as bad as some versions of the Flash. Both are sticking to their individual themes, Danny’s that they should team up and Luke’s desire to just keep people from getting hurt. While they chat, Stick and Matt have a whispered conference about Elektra’s return from the dead, with Matt desperate to try and redeem her, and Stick saying she’s not the same person and needs to get put down. They both notice when cars arrive.

Jessica sneaks up on the guy who was watching the Raymonds’ place and gets answers in her own unique manner. The guy puts up a fight, but Jessica wins by virtue of both her powers and just generally being cranky, which seems to get her through a lot. Finally she leans a bit about what she needs to know and then hears some radio babble that worries her.

Danny should have specified he wanted a private room for their meeting at the restaurant, because now Alexandra crashes the party. Stick is impressed she showed up. She makes various offers and threats, hiding behind the civilized veneer she seems to enjoy using. Cage, for one, isn’t buying. Eventually, the threats aren’t so veiled, and Elektra stalks in, sword in hand. Matt looks utterly confused, his senses not telling him everything he needs, and has a head tilt going on like a puzzled Golden Retriever.

Elektta’s moment of badass-ness is stepped on thoroughly by the return of Jessica Jones. Jessica knows how to make an entrance all right, sauntering in and asking, “Who missed me?” The episode ends with the four Defenders, plus Stick, squaring off against Elektra and, I suspect, what’s about to be a flood of henchmen/ninjas.

What I liked: Some people who just want to see big fight scenes and action sequences might be disappointed by this episode, but I liked it. There was a lot of character building, humor, and we learned the background of what’s been happening in both Daredevil and Iron Fist’s series. I loved some of the byplay and reactions of the main four to each other. I’m a little curious about whatever’s going on with Alexandra, but I suspect that will be revealed in time.

What I didn’t: I get why, but the supporting characters have all fallen away for this one. If nothing else, I expected Colleen to turn up, since she’s a decent fighter and knows at least some of what’s going on. And now that I’ve watched this, I really want Chinese food, dammit. I’m not sure I like that Nobu was just a warm up for this Murakami. We’re halfway through the series and Matt hasn’t suited up yet.

I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. As much as I enjoy the fights and powers, this episode really worked, and I’m pleased they gave the characters some time to get to know each other.