The Defenders – Episodes 4 – 6 Review

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The middle of The Defenders is full of interaction between the main four heroes, as well as their seconds, and plenty of new information about The Hand, including introducing all of the “Five Fingers of the Hand”. Basically it moves the plot along just enough to set the stage for the finale, but really it’s all about the four previous leads of their own series meeting each other… and it works really well! Let’s take a closer look…

Synopsis:

Rand, Cage, Jones, and Murdock escape to a nearby restaurant to hide out. With everyone introduced, Rand proposes that they work as a team to defeat the Hand, but Murdock is unwilling to get involved, and Jones leaves. Stick escapes from the Hand and finds the group, having already known Murdock and known of Rand. He explains that a long time ago the elders of K’un-Lun came together to study the healing powers of qi, but five among them wished to use this power to live forever and were cast out. They became the five fingers of the Hand, and include Alexandra, Madame Gao, Sowande, Murakami, and the recently deceased Bakuto…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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Not the most visually threatening teams ever… well, apart from Luke Cage…

Matt Murdock / Daredevil (Charlie Cox) – Matt finds himself surrounded by allies, but after what happened to the last ally he had to fight the Hand, he is reluctant to get anyone else involved in what he feels is his fight…

Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) – Jessica has never been one for playing hero, and even less about teaming up and befriending people, so she soon sets off on her own path… that is until it become apparent that the only way to escape The Hand is with help.

Luke Cage (Mike Colter) – Luke is just in it to save people, specifically the people of Harlem, and so goes along with what increasingly sounds like something from an old fantasy book if it means getting his hands on the man responsible for the deaths in his neighbourhood.

Danny Rand / Iron Fist (Finn Jones) – After hearing Colleen tell him that he needs help to take out the Hand, Danny is thrilled that three super-powered or super-skilled enemies of the Hand have all suddenly appeared before him. Sadly, getting them all to work together is far trickier than it first seems…

Alexandra Reid (Sigourney Weaver) – Alexandra is dying and for the first time in countless centuries it looks like it will stick. Her only hope lies in getting the Iron Fist to reach an entrance to K’un-Lun and regain the substance that has kept her and her four allies immortal…

Elektra (Élodie Yung) – Elektra is the “Black Sky”, a weapon of The Hand that was prophesied to bring them victory… sadly for them, Elektra is beginning to remember her original life…

Stick (Scott Glenn) – Stick was a member of the Chaste, a group that fought The Hand, but that group has now been wiped out. Injured and alone, Stick must put his faith in his old student Matt Murdock, the illusive Iron Fist, and their two allies…

Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) – Claire, having met all four of the would-be Defenders, knows the Hand all too well and understands when she is told to take her stuff and hide in the police station, she better do just that…

Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) – A true friend and ally to Iron Fist, Colleen wishes to help him defeat the Hand rather than let these new guys do it, but a new injury from an old friend puts her on the sidelines…

Plus many, many more!

The Good:

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It’s the good devil himself!

Much like how a lot of what made The Avengers good was the banter and dialogue between the heroes, Episode 4 is great because of the same reason. Danny Rand, actually showing enthusiasm and personality, is great here, happy to suddenly have friends and an army to fight the Hand with. Luke just goes along with it because that’s who he is (and I love the fact that these two specifically get along due to the Heroes for Hire comic series…) while Matt/Daredevil and Jessica especially take longer to come around. It’s another case of the increased running time helping things here, as if this were a movie they’d all join up right away, where as here it takes time because of the wildly different people involved.

I’ll mention it here, so watch out with the sudden major spoiler, but the ending to Episode 6 was great. Elektra, who has clearly remembered who she is (for the most part, anyway) is assigned a mission and walks off screen, only to pop back on and kill Alexandra and claim control of the Hand. Now given Elektra is often in control of the Hand in the comics I assumed this is where it was going, but I didn’t see it coming at the end of Episode 6! I guess it makes sense, I didn’t really see Sigourney Weaver doing an extended martial arts fight, and now, assuming Elektra won’t go full evil, we have four top villains and four Defenders, setting up the finale nicely, but it still caught me off guard, and I love it when that happens!

I really enjoyed Stick in these episodes. I always appreciated his no nonsense approach to everything, and how he’s a bit of an arse but you know he at least always thinks for the right side. His attempt to kill Iron Fist when it became apparent that The Hand’s plans hinge on him made sense, and it lead to a good tense face off. His apparent death isn’t surprising, his role with Matt was tied up in DD Season 2, and now the Chaste is done, his role is as well… seemingly, anyway.

I liked the scene where everyone had to try and knock out Danny so he wouldn’t put everyone in danger by being available to the Hand. The fight was great (what a difference a new fight choreographer makes, eh Mr. Rand!), especially when everyone was thrown backwards by the Iron Fist itself.

I also enjoyed the fight scene with Murakami and Jessica, where Jessica panics at the fact she is seemingly the only person who doesn’t know martial arts, which was a funny observation, which then lead to the return of Matt as Daredevil. I think out of all the pairing, Jessica and Daredevil and the most enjoyable, they had a little mini mission by themselves in Episode 6 and it worked really well.

The Bad:

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I wonder which she’ll choose! (… eventually…)

The Five Fingers of the Hand are a bit of a generic bunch. I mean Mao has been around forever so it’s nice to see her finally have some context, and Bakuto was dull as hell in Iron Fist as well so at least we actually see a bit of personality and reason behind his existence, but generally they’re just people who have been immortal and want to continue to be so. I do like how it implies that most of them actually want to get back to K’un-Lun rather than specifically want to ensure they won’t die like Alexandra, but compare them to Kingpin, or Kilgrave or Cottonmouth and you see how thin they are compared to most of the Netflix side of the MCU’s rogues gallery.

I have to say that the scenes in the police department with all the side characters seemed a little… pointless? It just felt like “hey, all these guys as well!” when it wasn’t really needed. They worked well at the start to increase that feeling that all these worlds were about to collide, but now they have you may as well stick with the main foursome. It’s not a super negative, as the scenes didn’t last very long, but it just stuck out to me.

Overall Thoughts:

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“So an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar…”

Although it has some weaker villains in it, this batch of episodes does what any middle of a story should do: sets up the finale while also giving some information away. Danny / Iron Fist is far more watchable here as well, plus his lead villain is given a little bit more context, so that’s two definite positives from prior weakness. At the end of the day though, these three episodes are memorable for great interaction between the leads and THAT cliffhanger! Looking forward to the big finale now!

4 Star Watch

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