Defenders: Take Shelter

shelter

“I never know what to say when you run into a friend of a friend…”

“Royal Dragon” had a lot of talking in it. It seems like they’re trying to make up for that in “Take Shelter.” The Hand is on the move and has a lot of good organization behind them. Our heroes have barely met and aren’t getting along as well as you’d hope for the good guys. Talk about going in with a handicap.

The show actually opens with the assembled might of the Hand converging on the restaurant where the Defenders are holed up. Sowandee and Gao are bringing teams of thugs with them, while Murakami is skulking around on his own. Even for the four of them, that’s a lot of heat headed our heroes’ way.

Inside, the fight has already started, as Elektra clashes with the group. Murakami leaps in through the skylight, making a dramatic entrance and making Danny ask, in a very annoyed voice, “Now who’s this?”

There’s a lot of close-in fighting, especially as the teams of thugs arrive with Gao and Sowande (I think I like White Hat better as a name). Cage amusingly describes Elektra as annoying, since her skill and speed make it hard for the big guy to get a decent hit on her. Pretty much as soon as Stick urges everyone to stay together, Matt takes off on his own to try and get through to Elektra. The rest of them fight on as best they can, not pleased with Matt’s solo act.

Matt alternately reasons and fight with Elektra as the rest battle on. It’s really apparent that of them all, Jessica has the least training and skill in a fight. She’s relying entirely on her powers. If things ever calm down, Jessica should take some lessons from Stick, Matt, or Danny. Murakami shows an impressive triumph of skill over strength as he drives Luke out of the restaurant, into the street, and sets him up to get hit by a truck.

Everyone who’s left regroups out back as Jessica covers their retreat by shoving a dumpster in front of the door. Stick leads them to escape via the sewers, which amazingly didn’t prompt a snarky comment from Jessica. As the good guys get away, the Hand wonders where their Black Sky has gotten to, and Alexandra watches from the safety of her SUV. So far, I really haven’t seen why the rest of the Hand seem to be so afraid of her.

Colleen is working out some of her frustrations on the heavy bag at her dojo when Danny finally staggers in. He warns her they have company, and the rest of the gang comes in. Stick says anywhere they land won’t be safe. There’s more bickering, mostly from Jessica, about just ending this and getting out. If Jessica put half the energy she spends on denying she’s a hero into her life in general, she’d be an amazing person. Not that she’s not one of the good ones now. Cage comes in with some great news– Sowande and his truck are no match for superstrength, and the leader of the Hand is now tied up in the back of a van Cage captured.

After the opening credits, Elektra is in her room, sharpening up blades. Alexandra comes in and they have a very twisted version of a mother/daughter talk. Murakami comes in with the news that Sowande is missing. Alexandra is remarkably unconcerned about this and talks about their South American coming. Elektra and Murakami have a staring contest before he finally leaves.

The group (I won’t call them a team in deference to Jessica’s complaints) relocates to a big empty industrial space that Rand-Meechum owns. Sowande is tied to a chair and Jessica wakes him up with some tender attentions. Sowande doesn’t seem really bothered at being held prisoner, and starts making threats about everyone’s loved ones.

Following up on this, the group splits up to go collect all their nearest and dearest. Cage has a heartfelt conversation with Claire as she gets ready. Down on the street, Colleen is really unsure about Danny listening to Stick. Their conversation stops when they see ore thugs coming. Danny and Colleen split up to fight, and Colleen gets a really unpleasant surprise when Bakuto shows up, not so much dead. There’s a lot more fighting and taunting, but Bakuto’s slick digs at Colleen end when Cage tosses him around. Bakuto and his minions vanish after cutting Colleen badly, and Claire asking, “That dude was dead for sure last time we saw him, right?”

Matt goes to collect Karen and they have a weird conversation that’s very tense. I’m not quite sure what the point of the scene was. As this goes on, Cage goes to Misty and asks for her help. Just as she starts to agree, the refugees start to stream in, surprising Misty a lot.

Stick and Sowande exchange taunts, although I think Stick gets the best line in the exchange. Later, Stick pulls Matt aside and says he needs to be the one to lead the others. Iron Fist can’t do it, Stick says, and I agree. Danny is not a leader, at least not the way his is right now. Too much temper and too much foolishness. Then again, Matt has a huge blind spot where Elektra is concerned. Matt really doesn’t like Stick’s advice here.

Jessica goes to get Trish and pulls her out of an important meeting. Trish is understandably annoyed at first, and that slows things down enough for the thugs to show up. Jessica leads Trish away, but they get ambushed by Murakami. Jessica might be in over her head here, but Daredevil finally shows up. The two double team Murakami and beat him, while Trish is really surprised to see the masked hero. Jessica glances at the costume and tells Matt she liked the scarf better.

The break room at Misty’s precinct is like a party no one wants to be at, as the various friends and lovers of the heroes are all collected here. Trish knows who Karen is, which I find interesting, and then Misty gets a scene with Colleen, mostly about her sword. While I understand Misty’s concern about a woman walking around with a katana, comic fans have a good reason to be excited by this scene. In the books, Misty and Colleen are known as the Daughters of the Dragon, and make a counterpoint to Danny and Luke’s Heroes for Hire. The probably won’t do anything with that on Netflix, but at least it was a nice nod.

The Hand is having a very tense meeting at their upper levels. Bakuto and Gao haven’t forgotten their clash during the events of Iron Fist’s first season, and they verbally spar while waiting for the others. Alexandra and Murakami eventually show up, and toss a new verbal grenade in the room. The Iron Fist has a new partner- Daredevil. I guess DD made a big impression, considering the reaction they all have to his name.

Speaking of the Man Without Fear, Daredevil is using his billy club/grapple to choke some answers out of Sowande. Danny and Luke, grudgingly, are impressed with the gadget. Sowande keeps mocking his captors. You have to admire the man’s coolness. Daredevil is pushing for answers about what they did to Elektra, and getting more mockery from Sowande. Sowande says at one point that if you cut off a finger, you can still use a Hand, which to me echoes the whole, “Cut off one head and two shall take its place” chant Hydra uses. I wonder if there’s a tie somewhere along the way between Hydra and the Hand? Daredevil finally pushes Sowande over after Jessica urges him not to kill the man, and Stick urges Matt to tell the others what’s going on withe Elektra.

Gao is the most surprised, and possibly most worried, to hear about Daredevil. Then again, she was “his” villain, so that makes sense. Bakuto is unimpressed, but then I get the impression he’s only impressed with himself. After a lot of debate about Elektra and her connection to Daredevil, there’s what looks like the start of a small coup among the Hand leadership.

Daredevil finally tells the others about his history with Elektra. Danny is most concerned about Matt keeping secrets, which makes sense given his recent past. Luke and Jessica are stuck on the whole “resurrected” concept, which also works considering those two are the most grounded in reality, or the closest thing to it. As the heroes argue, Sowande comes around and frees himself. Brilliantly, Danny manages to get taken hostage, and Mr. Radar Sense there missed the whole thing until it was too late. Finally, the situation gets resolved. I really am starting to wonder if some of the writers are Highlander fans.

Alexandra goes to talk to Elektra, but she’s not there. The show ends with Elektra taking a tour of Matt’s apartment. There is no dialogue, but they manage to show her dealing with some at least hazy memories returning pretty well. Hopefully this means Elektra is starting to think for herself, which should weaken the Hand. I guess we’ll see if that’s enough.

What I liked: Most of the episode, really. There was great action, and watching the four heroes interact is still really amusing. The gathering of the supporting players was well done, for the most part. Trish being in awe of Daredevil was a nice twist. Maybe that will jumpstart her Hellcat persona from the comics? Jessica’s continuing snark is amusing. I loved the small bit with Misty and Colleen. Stick got some great lines, too.

What I didn’t: I really don’t see why Alexandra is supposed to be so feared by her fellow “fingers” (which I still think is a ridiculous term). Murakami seems a lot more impressive so far. I also don’t like how they’ve built Alexandra up by bumping Gao down a few pegs. She’s been a awesome villain, and gets a great moment in this episode. The scene with Sowande getting the drop on Danny and everyone else was clumsy at best and bad writing at worst.

I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5. It had a lot of good moments, but could have been better.

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