Review: Defenders S1E1 – “The H Word”

To be fair, the Avengers weren’t sure their partnership would work, either.

A team that includes a bullet-proof man, a blind lawyer with deadly skills, a private eye with super strength who says she’s no hero and a rich guy with a mystical hand doesn’t sound promising, especially when their enemy is a rich socialite who’s connected to the Hand and wants to destroy New York…or worse…before she dies.

Welcome to Marvel’s Defenders, the Netflix event that unites the channel’s Marvel characters of Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones). They are used to working alone because they can’t imagine other heroes in their lives.

That changes when a massive earthquake centered in Hell’s Kitchen causes major damage, and a woman named Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) seems to be the real epicenter.

SPOILERS BELOW

The episode begins with Danny/Iron Fist and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) battling minions from the Hand, including a woman who seems to have mystical powers. One man tells them the real battle is in New York, which surprises them both. On the plane back to the US, Danny dreams of how the Hand killed everyone in K’un Lun, and in it he tells himself (in a monotone voice) it’s his fault. He doesn’t really tell Colleen, claiming he’s still bothered by the turbulence. Too bad Jones says that too calmly. He seems to have one style of delivery and it’s underwhelming. The fight scenes at the start are also disappointing.

Back in New York, Jessica is in no mood…for work or anything else. She’s still deeply scarred from her battle with Kilgrave, yet Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) insists Jessica consider cashing in on her new fame…or at least solve crimes again. She’s asked by a woman to find her missing husband, John Raymond, but Jess refuses. The woman’s daughter isn’t surprised. However, a weird phone call from a guy who tells her not to take the case (15 seconds after the wife leaves) changes Jess’ mind, and she heads to a building where the phone call came from. She doesn’t find the missing guy, but does find a lot of dynamite. Ritter, by the way, hasn’t lost a step in recreating the wise-cracking P-I. Malcolm (Eka Darville)  is also there are her barely-paid assistant, but at least working for her has improved his life, compared to what he was in the first series.

Also, Luke is free from prison, thanks to help from attorney Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). Luke meets up with Claire (Rosario Dawson), and they are…er…very happy to see each other again. He’s also visited by Officer Misty Knight (Simone Missick). She tells him about how some Harlem youths have been going missing and then turning up dead. She’s also part of a special task force to investigate corruption. She asks him to find a guy named Cole (J. Mallory McCree), who was the brother of Candace, who died before she was due to testify against Mariah Dillard in the last series. Luke does find Cole, who at least can afford new sneakers. He tells Luke to walk away because “it’s too late for heroes.” Colter is also great as Cage, a man who is a hero and will figure out a way to maybe make it a job. Maybe Jessica needs competition in the private eye biz.

As for the Man Without Fear, But With A Lot of Guilt, Matt Murdoch has put away his Daredevil self and is concentrating on being a very good attorney. He talks over his decision with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), who has come a long way since the beginning. She’s now with the Bulletin as a reporter. They talk about him leaving his other life, and both agree they should “figure each other out” before going further. The scene at the diner with Cox and Woll is really touching, and shows two people trying to move on.

Then there’s Alexandra. She’s told her red blood cell count is dropping and her body’s near collapse. She hasn’t got much time left, and she decides to get busy. All we know is that she’s rich, respected and a friend of Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho). They talk about how it’s a miracle Central Park exists, then about a certain plan. Alex tells Gao it’s got to start now, which actually worries Gao. Then Alex tells Gao to finish feeding the birds for her. That says a lot. After thinking that Gao practically rules the Hand, we see who’s really in charge. Weaver plays this part perfectly. You believe she’s a force of nature that is very hard to stop, if not impossible.

Once the quake hits, Alex is literally above it all, completely unaffected. Then she turns to someone and says, “It’s just a city. You’ll get used to watching them fall.” That someone is Elektra (Elodie Yung), who was dead, but is now just a weapon. It’s easy to guess who will be her target. It’s a chilling moment.

Then something even more chilling comes. We see Matt hearing people in trouble, begging for help. He’s trying to ignore them, because he just can’t be tempted, to give in to his other self. It’s a variation of Jekyll and Hyde, except Hyde is the hero the city needs.

This episode got a preview at Comic-Con and got a big response, Now, fans will see if this can be maintained for another seven episodes. At least it won’t be long before at least two of these heroes find each other, and figure out that what is happening, and maybe their personal worlds, are bigger than they thought.

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Post Author: David Mello

Worked nearly eleven years at a radio station as a board operator, news reader, and assistant producer for baseball broadcasts. Have been a staff writer for Whedonopolis since July 2008