Defenders: The Defenders

defenders

So… where did we park?

The Defenders wrap up their first season with a lot of things going on. There’s no announcement as yet about a second season, but it was months before they confirmed season two of Iron Fist, so that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The basis for some friendships are formed, among both the heroes and at least some of the supporting cast. And at least one character takes a major step towards their comic book incarnation.

I try hard not to do spoilers in my reviews, but for a season finale, they are hard to avoid. So, be warned, there are spoilers and reveals below. You likely should not read this until you have seen all of the Defenders. Which is also the name of the final episode: “The Defenders.”

The opening scene starts just about where the last episode left off. Luke, Jessica, Daredevil, Claire, and Colleen are gathered the lobby of Midland Financial. Colleen’s radical plan is to blow up the building and drop it down into the deep hole the Hand created under it. Most of them don’t like the idea, but one by one are won over to it given the ruthless nature of the Hand and the fact that the building is empty except for the heroes and the bad guys. Luke is the last hold out and even he is finally persuaded. There’s a big mention of the fact that there’s no remote detonator for the explosives, just a timer. Once it’s started, you can’t stop it. Can you say ominous foreshadowing?

After the intro, Elektra ventures past the barrier she got Danny to open for her last time. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. Apparently, deep beneath Manhattan lies a gigantic dragon skeleton. Dragons are a big part of Iron Fist’s mythos, and if the Hand are also from K’un Lun, I guess it makes sense they have an interest as well. Apparently, the “substance” that lets them live so long and/or come back from the dead is some kind of refined dragon bone. Asian medicine is weird.

The cops pull up outside Midland, pushing the heroes into motion finally. Misty then learns about the missing C4 from evidence. Evidently, the security cameras we never saw were conveniently down, so no one caught Colleen taking it. Misty’s annoying captain, in between threatening her job, blames the three escaped heroes.

Back at supporting character storage, Karen and Trish share a scene where they look at Misty’s current crime board. They realize how far the Hand’s influence has spread, and compare notes on both being journalists of a kind. Trish mentions her quake story being shut down, and then Foggy and Malcolm burst in, talking about radio chatter. Trish, at least, also knows how important Midland is.

Daredevil, Luke, and Jessica wander the building until Daredevil senses the hidden elevator down to the pit. Who needs to figure out how the secret door works when you have Luke Cage? They get in and exchange more banter about how they’re not heroes, although Daredevil mentions he’s glad they are there.

Colleen and Claire scout out where to place the bombs. Thankfully, the man who designed the building did the hard work of figuring out how to bring it down. Their stealth mission is interrupted by Bakuto showing up. Outside, a frustrated Misty Knight still can’t find a way in.

Bakuto does more of his slimy mocking while Colleen keeps him away from Claire. Claire’s hiding is undone by the combination of her brilliantly forgetting to turn off her phone and Misty calling at a bad time. Claire urges Misty to clear the block. Misty decides enough is enough and shoots out the lock on the door.

Down below, Danny takes out some of the Hand thugs that are harvesting dragon bone, until he runs afoul of Gao and Murakami. Gao taunts him more but stops Murakami from killing him when they hear the elevator. Use hostages is one of the Hand’s favorite games, after all.

The three heroes descend. Daredevil says there’s ten stories to go, and thirty bad guys, including the three we fought in the garage. I don’t know what Daredevil was picking up on there, but Bakuto is upstairs, not down there. Jessica rides the elevator all the way down and stalls until Daredevil and Luke are in position to leap out and start taking down thugs, joined by Danny almost immediately. Just for the record, with as many fight sequences as they did down there, either the heroes can’t put bad guys down worth anything, or there are a lot more than thirty. Maybe Daredevil’s senses are messed up by dragon bone.

Since it worked so well last time, they do another split fight scene. The main characters battle down in the pit, while Colleen, Claire, and Misty team up against Bakuto and a few randomly appearing thugs. One of the stupidest moments in the series comes when Danny uses his Iron Fist power, hitting Gao’s defenses, and the shockwave knocks down most of the Hand. Instead of dealing with their downed foes, the Defenders strike heroic poses and wait. Dumb. Seriously dumb. Up above, Colleen gets injured saving Claire, then Misty loses an arm to Bakuto’s blade before Colleen takes his head off. In the comics, Misty is most noted for having a bionic arm to replace her real one, lost in a terrorist incident. I think this is close enough. Even dead, Bakuto is a problem child as his body falls on the timer, triggering the countdown.

The fight down below narrows to the heroes versus Elektra. After she kicks their collective asses (again), Daredevil urges them to go. He’s going to stay down here and try and talk to Elektra. Those two fight and talk, while the others get attacked in the elevator on the way up. The most notable things that happen are Murakami getting hurled over the edge back down into the pit, and, when the elevator starts to fall, Jessica grabs the cable, holding up the elevator, Danny, and the super dense Luke Cage. Nice job, Jess.

They finally get to the top, find Claire, Colleen, and Misty, and then the lobby gets swarmed by cops who have somehow or other gotten inside the building they kept saying they couldn’t get into. Luke finally ends the arrest debate by walking towards the SWAT officers and Jessica telling them about the bombs. They finally get everyone outside, and Misty the medical care she needs. Claire is great, but she needs more than a first aid kit to deal with a severed limb.

Daredevil and Elektra continue their bizarre fight/romantic scene. Daredevil follows one of the most annoying trends in hero movies of the last few years and yanks his mask off. The two of them are together as the building finally comes down. The others are heartbroken up above. Danny says Matt never intended to come out, and charged Danny with protecting his city. Shame he didn’t use the word Defend. They finally make it back to the station, and there’s a really sad scene of Karen and Foggy looking expectantly at the doorway, waiting for Matt who never comes in.

In various follow up scenes, we get a combination of wrapping things up and hints of things to come. Foggy explains why no one is being charged with anything to Clare and Luke, and they all mourn Matt’s passing. Colleen tells Danny Matt’s death wasn’t his fault. Trish and Jessica meet up before Jessica goes back home, where Malcolm is finally fixing the walls and Jess unveils her sign again, showing she’s back in business. They show the budding friendship between Colleen and Misty, and the board behind them is an Easter Egg. The medical staff mentioned on it are, respectively, the original Night Nurse (the role Claire seems to be filling) and a minor Spider-Man villain.

Jessica and Luke finally talk a bit, hinting at their previous relationship, and at least laying the groundwork for them to be friends. It’s a nice scene where the characters are talking like adults. Karen and Foggy go to church, sadly don’t see Father Lantom, and grieve for Matt, although Karen hopes he survived.

The two potentially most important scenes are last. Danny does a very typical hero crouching pose on a rooftop, a lot like what Matt frequently does. He’s apparently taking Matt’s word about protecting the city seriously. This might give Danny some needed growth. It also echoes the comics, where Iron Fist filled in as Daredevil for Matt at least once.

And, since we already knew Daredevil Season Three was coming, we see Matt survived. He’s heavily bandaged in some kind of convent, or at least surrounded by nuns. When he finally starts stirring, one of the nuns tells the other to go get Maggie. The scene of Matt in the bed with nuns is almost directly lifted from a Daredevil cover, and in the comics, Maggie is Matt’s mom. So that could be interesting.

What I liked: There were some great fight scenes. There were a few references to the previous Netflix series, and thinner ones to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. I liked the character interactions, especially Claire and Colleen, Colleen and Misty, and Trish and Karen. The end scene with Luke and Jessica was nicely done. Danny on the roof gives a slight hint about what might be coming next. While I didn’t like Misty getting hurt so badly, it does open the door for her arm from the comics. The dragon skeleton was kind of neat. And I’m almost positive Gao survived to fight another day. Bakuto is dead. Again. And Colleen killed him, which was great.

What I didn’t: The weird shockwave moment in the fight downstairs could have been a great advantage which they blew by posing. Midland had no way in at all… except for Misty shooting the door and then cops flooding in later. Somehow. They seem to have forgotten Jessica’s semi-flight ability.

Disappointments: The rumored Punisher cameo never happened. He has ties to both Daredevil and Karen, so I’m hoping his series (coming in November) explains where he was during all this. I really was hoping Trish would start moving towards being Hellcat, but maybe her seeing Matt was a step that way. In the comics, Misty’s arm was made by Tony Stark. I really didn’t expect Robert Downey to do a cameo, but a mention would have been nice.

I have a bit of a pet peeve about things where the name of the group is never actually used. The long-running Birds of Prey book, usually associated with writer Gail Simone, was like that until almost the end of the series. Likewise, the “Defenders” name, usually associated with a different group, is never used in the series at all, not even sarcastically.

While there were a few flaws in this series, overall I enjoyed it. I’m hoping there’s a season two, and that Trish is Hellcat by then, since she’s the only one of the Defender regulars from the comics that has shown up anywhere in the Netflix/Marvel world. I’ll give this series a solid 3.5 out of 5, and I look forward to the return of all the heroes and their friends in the future.

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