I’ve looked forward to The Defenders Season 1 ever since I first heard about it. I watched every season of Marvel’s shows on Netflix as soon as I could digest them (thirteen hour binges are tough to schedule). Let me spoil the ending here: I love this show. Major SPOILERS included below!
Let’s catch up with the major and minor characters:
Danny Rand – The Immortal Iron Fist (Finn Jones) – He searches the world over for any clues about the Hand with Colleen Wing at his side.
Luke Cage (Mike Colter) – Just released from prison, Luke looks to pick up where he left off as Harlem’s protector.
Matt Murdock – Daredevil or the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen (Charlie Cox) – Matt put the suit and life away and lives his life as a private practice lawyer, no longer active as Daredevil. But he’s fooling himself.
Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) – Jessica struggles putting the whole Kilgrave situation behind her. Paradoxically, she tries to get back to normal life by not doing anything from her normal life. She’s a mess.
Claire (Rosario Dawson) – Everyone’s favorite nurse expresses how very happy she is to see Luke again rather physically and hopes to help him start a normal life.
Colleen (Jessica Henwick) – Colleen helps Danny atone for letting down K’un-Lun while atoning for her own betrayal of Danny as a member of the Hand.
Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) – She currently represents Danny and shows interest in Jessica’s well-being – as a means of protecting her own interests.
Foggy (Elden Henson) – Foggy represents Luke, but now as a lawyer at the big, fancy firm his lust-interest works at. He endeavors to keep Matt on the straight and narrow.
Karen (Deborah Ann Woll) – Karen became a reporter, and hasn’t checked in with Matt in a while. They reconnect after Matt wins a big case.
Misty (Simone Missick) – Misty rose through the ranks of NYPD a little and wants to offer guidance to Luke in his post-prison life.
Trish (Rachael Taylor) – Trish hosts her radio show and fills the solitary role as the one person Jessica trusts.
Stick (Scott Glenn) – Still blind. Still serving some mysterious faction (which we learn all about) involved in the war with the Hand.
Previously Seen Villains:
Madam Gao (Wai Ching Ho) – Madam Gao’s staying power makes her super scary. She still causes trouble as a leader of organized crime, but now she appears to works for Alexandra.
Elektra – Black Sky (Elodie Yung) – cloaked, silent, and likes to get into fights. She’s allegedly the Black Sky, an entity dedicated to bringing the Iron Fist to the Hand using the body of Elektra.
Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) – She occupies this season’s big-bad status. She has seen many Iron Fists come and go in her time on Earth.
Murakami (Yutaka Takeuchi) – Murakami likes to play the lone wolf member of the Fingers. We meet him in full-on Tywin Lannister fashion, gutting and cleaning an animal he’s just killed. That means he’s hardcore.
Sowande – The White Hat (Babs Olusanmokun) – At first, he picks up the slack in Harlem in the void created by the disappearance of Mariah and Shades. He turns out to be a full-fledged member of the Fingers and maybe a little psychic.
Character Deaths: None
Big Events: We catch up with all major and most minor characters. We also meet Alexandra, a mysterious new figure with enough clout to boss around Madam Gao. Luke gets out of prison and shows Claire how much he missed her. Matt wins a big case and reconnects with Karen. Danny and Colleen make their way to New York. Jessica finds a bomb while looking for a missing architect. Alexandra causes an earthquake.
Super-action: Danny and Colleen fight a mysterious figure in Cambodia.
Thoughts: Great start. A little mind-blowing to see ALL of these familiar characters in the same show. Also, thought it was interesting to see how Luke’s sections used the same background music and lighting / filter style as his series.
Character Deaths: Chaste soldiers (but we don’t know that yet). Mr. Raymond kills himself rather than fall prisoner to the Hand.
Big Events: Luke and Danny meet as combatants. Matt and Jessica meet as witness and lawyer. Another scene including the shrouded swords-woman in Jessica’s office. Madam Gao finds some kind of wall and Alexandra takes Stick captive.
Super Action: Luke and Danny squabble. Super funny to watch as Danny’s regular moves have zero effect on the big guy.
Thoughts: Heroes fight all the time in comics. Really. It’s almost funny how often “allies” blast each other with eye beams. They don’t know they’re on the same side yet and I thought the fight between Iron Fist and Luke Cage captured their characters perfectly and how they will complement each other in times to come.
Character Deaths: Poor Cole. Even though Luke tried to intervene in his life, Cole wound up on the wrong side of the law anyway and died while in police custody.
Big Events: Elektra comes back to life as the Black Sky, a killing machine with no past bent on delivering the Iron Fist to the Hand. All of the heroes converge on Midland Circle (a front for the Hand) at the same time, all for different reasons. Stick escapes by cutting off a hand and lands at Colleen’s dojo.
Super Action: The four heroes cover each other’s backs during a half-baked attempt to invade Midland Circle.
Thoughts: It was clumsy, but our first glimpse of the Defenders in action told me they had what it would take to stand up to the Hand and win.
Character Deaths: None.
Big Events: We learn all about the Chaste (Iron Fist’s dead army) and the Five Fingers of the Hand (the unholy cabal of quasi-immortal jerks controlling the Hand) from Stick.
Super Action: Not too much. Jessica beats up a Hand goon watching the Raymond family then throws a car through the front of the Chinese Restaurant, into Elektra.
Thoughts: This episode felt slow to me. The heroes needed to catch their breath and regroup for sure, but in totality, after viewing the entire series, it felt like we spent forever in that Chinese restaurant. Sometimes, the only way to explain exposition is just explain exposition, just like Stick did this episode.
Character Deaths: Stick beheads Sowande rather than risk losing Danny.
Big Events: Bakuto shows back up and reveals himself as the final Finger. Luke takes White Hat (Sowande) prisoner following an off-screen tussle. They get a chance to interrogate him, but he mostly just psychs them out. The sidekicks all have to move to the Police Department for protection. Elektra starts to emerge from the Black Sky personality.
Super Action: Big fight in the Chinese restaurant gives everyone a chance to show off a little. Elektra distracts Matt during the fight and he tries talking to her. Later, Daredevil, in full uniform, scares Murakami off from pursuing Trish in a short fight.
Thoughts: After last episode’s action reprieve, we pick up with some pretty good action and some good insight into the extent of the Fingers’ immortality. Living for a long time isn’t the same thing as indestructibility.
Character Deaths: Elektra handled this week’s killings. First up, Stick! She needs Danny for the Finger project and Stick threatens to kill him just to keep him out of their… um… hands. Next up, Alexandra! Killed by Elektra’s own hand! Well, sword, but same thing!
Big Events: The team decides to hide Danny against his will for his own protection and then split up. The Hand wants to use him as a “key”, but the Defenders have no idea what that means. Their plans literally go out the window when Elektra steals Danny and leaves the team knocked out.
Super Action: Not exactly. Luke has been sedated with poison incense, so he stands no chance against Elektra. Jessica and Matt briefly engage Elektra, but she’s REALLY charged up and beats them all easily.
Thoughts: Elektra’s actions, especially killing her creator / mentor, kept my eyes glued to the screen during this episode. Alexandra should have known better than count on a revenant.
Character Deaths: I’m sure a lot of those Hand soldiers died, but no named characters.
Big Events: The flashback / prologue gave us a ton of insight into Stick and Elektra’s motivations earlier in Daredevil’s career. Stick’s whole deal was getting Matt to join the Chaste and Elektra was supposed to help. Neither one could pull it off though. The team ultimately winds up back at Midland Circle for the final showdown.
Super Action: Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones square off against Gao, Bakuto, and Murakami in a short, but violent skirmish.
Thoughts: This episode built drama going into the finale. Foggy gives Matt the Daredevil suit after telling him to leave that life behind. Elektra tricks Danny into using the Iron Fist against Gao’s wall, thus opening it up. The good guys have to break out of NYPD and face the three remaining Fingers. I enjoyed all of these moments for what they were, but they really made me want to get to the finale already.
Character Deaths: Bakuto loses his head to his onetime student’s blade. Murakami dies of rebar poisoning.
Big Events: Misty loses her arm to Bakuto! Madam Gao escapes! The Midland Circle building comes down on top of Matt and Elektra!
Super Action: Everyone gets a chance to shine here. Matt’s the only person to fight Elektra because he’s the only person she probably won’t kill. Jessica saves Danny and Luke with her limited flight and super-strength when the elevator gets damaged. Danny was able to keep his Chi focused and the Iron Fist activated for the entire fight.
Thoughts: Foggy and Karen win the award for saddest Superhero non-reunion when all of the other sidekicks greet their hero, but Matt never comes in. Heart-wrenching scene. The ending scene, with Matt alive, left me happy but also wondering which girl is he after at this point? Karen mourns him at a church, but Elektra may have gotten him out of Midland’s basement. Similarly, the little budding re-connection between Luke and Jessica left a bad taste in my mouth. Claire has put in the time, bro.
I enjoyed the heck out of this series and can’t wait for more. I admit feeling less enthusiastic about The Punisher (Netflix’ next Marvel series), but this has me ready to see what comes next in Netflix and Marvel’s universe.