Defenders: Fish In A Jailhouse


Safest subway car ever (unless you’re a beer)

The episodes for the Defenders have mostly had titles that made sense. Episode seven, “Fish In A Jailhouse,” I’m not sure does. When I first saw that, I was wondering if Bobby Fish, one of Luke Cage’s many supporting characters who hasn’t been seen yet, might finally turn up. But he didn’t, and the best explanation I have is the title is a variation on the old saying about shooting fish in a barrel, and the fact that so much of the episode takes place in the police precinct where Misty works, which I guess could be considered a “jailhouse.” That or the writers got clever about something that I just didn’t catch at all.

The episode opens in the nebulous “Some Time Ago,” presumably during Daredevil’s second season, but before the end of it. Elektra and Stick meet up, and she reports her lack of success in recruiting Matt Murdock into the Chaste, the enigmatic group that opposes the Hand. While we’ve gotten at least some of the background of the Hand during Defenders, we still don’t know much about the Chaste. Stick mocks Elektra’s failure and her feelings for Matt. I guess for contrast, they cut to the present, with the team down, Danny gone, and Stick definitively dead.

After the intro, we’re back to “now,” as Jessica slowly wakes up. Deja vu, she’s handcuffed to a table and Misty’s in the room with her. Haven’t we been here already? Misty is not happy with Jessica and company. Aside from whatever other questionable stuff they’ve been up to, the group was found with two bodies, one impaled and one decapitated. I guess Stick didn’t get around to getting rid of the rest of Sowande.

You can see Jessica and Misty not quite trusting each other, but trying to. There’s a lot of verbal fencing back and forth about what’s going on. To her credit, one of Jessica’s first questions is about the others. She can claim she’s the disinterested lone wolf all she wants, but she cares about the team. One of Misty’s better, and more relevant, questions, is, “What kind of person knocks out you and Luke Cage?” I’d wonder that, too, in her shoes.

Matt wakes up in an office on a couch. I guess he’s being treated better than the others since he’s both an attorney and has better legal standing than the others, Cage being an ex-con and Jessica having publically killed someone. Foggy is there with him and tries to bring Matt up to speed on what’s going on. Both of them are relieved Matt wasn’t found wearing his Daredevil costume. Matt’s just finished telling a disbelieving Foggy about Danny being captured and Elektra being back from the dead when Misty comes in with more questions. Matt claims attorney/client privilege, not exactly endearing himself to her. She, in turn, tells him they know he’s more than just an attorney in all this, rattling Foggy. They have a very amusing exchange about her calling Matt a witness.

Claire and Colleen are with the still-out-cold Luke, as they wonder what would have taken him down. They also talk about their respective roles in all this chaos. Colleen is worried about Danny, calling him a kid still looking for a family. That sounds like most of the team, to me, although I agree that Danny is the most immature. Luke finally wakes up, and one of his first questions is about Danny. The team has grown close quickly, but then again, Danny is the key to possible Armageddon, or the city-sized version of it.

Elektra presides over the remaining fingers of the Hand, having enacted her very decisive coup. She’s calm and in control and the others seem uncharacteristically cowed. Gao has some practical concerns about what happens next, while Bakuto is just slimy and snarky. They argue a bit, and Elektra asserts dominance once again, which the others just sort of go along with. I’m disappointed in Gao rolling over like this. They built her up to be such a bad-ass, and now she’s just nodding and going, “Oh, okay,” to all this stuff going on.

Under the excuse of “conferring with his clients,” Matt is put in a small room with Jessica and Luke. I know he came in all brash and bold as Jessica’s attorney a while back, but I’m really not clear on when he became attorney of record for Cage. Misty and her captain come in, and the captain is blustery and threatening, which is just not going to work with these three. As all this goes on, Karen gets a quick conversation with Matt, and gets some answers she doesn’t like. Colleen and Claire are also worried about Danny, especially after seeing Misty’s current board, with pictures of Stick dead. Misty also tries to pry some answers out of Luke, and he tells her he’s trying to protect her. I have to admit, the NYPD, as formidable as they are, is really not set up to handle something like the Hand. Or people like the Defenders, for that matter.

Elektra is on a cargo elevator going down a ways, with Danny behind her, strapped to his Hannibal Lecter-like board. The others watch via monitor while they debate among themselves. Gao is more than willing to see if Elektra can get the results they want, and the opportunistic Bakuto agrees. Murakami is annoyed that it’s not “one of us” doing this part of things. Elektra finally brings Danny to the big chamber underground, and he looks stunned at what he sees.

The other three heroes debate what to do next. Murdock thinks they brought Danny to Midland Financial, and, based on what we’ve seen so far, I’d agree it’s the best guess. Luke and Jessica keep giving Matt a hard time about his attachment to Elektra, which is justified at this point. Foggy comes by with a mixed message of warning Matt about his two lives colliding but also bringing his Daredevil gear. After Foggy goes back to supporting character storage, the group makes their decision. Moments later, yet another lecture from the captain is interrupted when alarms sound, and he and Misty find a big hole in their wall. Roughly Luke Cage-sized, in fact.

Elektra starts trying to manipulate Danny into opening the mysterious wall wwwaaayyyy down under Midland Financial. She explains a little bit more about what’s going on, which she says she learned by listening to Alexandra. Well, the lady did like to talk. As this goes on, the captain gives Misty various threats about her future while sending people out looking for the escaped prisoners. Colleen meanwhile, finds the unlocked and unguarded evidence room and steals a few things. Sorry, guys, big giant no way. Setting the “unguarded” issue, even in a small city like I work in, the evidence/property room is kept locked at the very least, and has cameras in it.

The three fugitives dodge police cars and realize it’s a long way to Midland. Having no money for a cab, they resort to the stereotypical New York alternative. I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever seen live action heroes on the subway before. Jessica shows how low she’ll sink with some of her issues in a comedic/tragic moment.

Foggy and Karen worry about Matt and talk about rumors they’ve heard. Foggy is actually sort of on Matt’s side now, or at least seeing the need for Daredevil, which is a nice change. Misty tries to get some answers from Claire, who doesn’t have any. They talk and back and forth for a while before Misty suddenly asks, “Wait, where’s the chick with the sword?” Colleen is evidently only part samurai, but also part ninja.

Jessica and Luke banter for long enough for Matt to change to his red suit, which Jessica then promptly mocks. They sneak into the building through the parking garage, which is how Luke made his timely entrance last time, but they find Gao, Bakuto, and Murakami waiting for them. The three versus three exchange words, square off, and take a dramatic pause.

We get a nicely done split-action scene, as the big fight happens upstairs. Down below, Elektra and Danny fight, and she’s disappointingly much better than he is. She’s trying to goad him into unleashing his power, and finally manages to do so. The two fights go on for a while until Elektra manages to trick Danny into opening the wall, and the three bad guys flee when the heroes get reinforced by Colleen. Their escape is creative, and the heroes are lucky they have someone as tough as Luke to end the problem. Misty shows up and asks how long they need her to stall the cops that are coming. Claire is with Misty and joins the heroes.

Danny’s opening the wall has immediate effects over all the parts of the city we see. Foggy sums it up nicely with, “That can’t be good.” After Luke foils pursuit and makes Misty’s offer redundant, Colleen shares her somewhat dramatic plan for what she stole from evidence. Jessica and Luke are appalled, but Daredevil actually agrees and gives a few decent reasons behind his decision. The episode ends with a kind of confusing camera shot of Danny on the floor, his clothes partially ripped into a rough approximation of his classic comics costume.

What I liked: There was a lot of good action. The team is acting like a team–well, the three not prisoners are. The fight with them versus Bakuto, Gao, and Murakami was great, and the intercut scenes with Elektra versus Danny was well done. I’m glad Foggy is coming around to seeing the need for heroes, even if he’s being wildly optimistic about Matt’s future plans. Colleen was useful, and she and Claire got some good scenes. I didn’t like a lot of Misty’s scenes this episode, but they were true to character and made sense for her. I’m glad Matt will be in costume for the last episode.

What I didn’t: The Three Fingers are making less and less sense to me as this goes on. They can all fight, and we’ve seen Gao is a bad-ass. Why were they so afraid of Alexandra and now Elektra? The bit with Colleen in the evidence room was just badly written. While Danny Rand is my favorite of these characters from the comics, he was reckless, immature, and foolish this episode, even more than he has been in his own series. Though I’ll point out it wouldn’t have been as easy for Elektra to capture him if his friends hadn’t knocked him out and tied him up.

This wasn’t quite what I was hoping for in their penultimate episode. I guess we’ll see how they wrap it up. I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. I hope the finale is better.