The much anticipated Netflix Mini-Series The Defenders is finally here. After a mostly great first 5 episodes (You can read the reviews for those Here and here) does the Defenders manage to stick the landing with it’s final three episodes? The answer to that question, is a bit complicated.
With the first 5 episodes being build up to what takes place in the final three, The Defenders did a fantastic job of balancing it’s characters and telling an engaging and exciting story, even if The Hand has become an antagonist audiences are tired of. The joy of seeing characters like Luke Cage and Iron Fist meeting for the first time is reminiscent of the feelings one had while watching a film like The Avengers. What the final three episodes manage to do with this series is elevate the status of these heroes as a team.
Episode 6: “Ashes, Ashes”
The sixth episode of the series slowed down the fast pace of the previous episode, as the team splits up, with Jessica and Matt investigating a promising lead, and Luke Cage left to guard a sidelined Iron Fist, who is being kept under tight watch by the Defenders out of fear of how the Hand will try and use him. The Episode began with a truly epic fight scene between Danny and Matt, and the fight choreography has improved vastly since the previous Marvel Netflix show, Iron Fist. Seeing two of the best fighters in the MCU engage in (iron) fisticuffs was extremely gratifying, and somewhat makes up for the relatively slow pace of the rest of the episode. Although, the entire reason behind the fight scene is odd and a bit confusing, at best.
This episode took the time to really develop relationships and provide great interactions with characters that had not been able to do so before. Jessica and Matt spend the majority of the episode together, learning more about each other and the situation they’re in, and in turn providing some great scenes to watch in the episode. Likewise, Luke Cage and Iron Fist get some of that much anticipated development and bonding between the two. Finn Jones and Mike Colter have great chemistry together, and it is clear their relationship is being built up to mirror the one that they have in the comics. Luke Cage also gets screen time with Stick, Daredevil’s mentor, and that pair was the one that came the most out of left field, and it was interesting seeing the completely opposite ideologies each character has clash with one another.
The episode ended with an amazing fight scene towards the end, with each Defender going up against Elektra with an ending scene that foretells grave consequences for our heroes. Despite some slow pacing in the middle part and a bit of a frustrating ending, episode 6 was an overall solid episode with some great fight scenes, character development, and a lot of shocks along the way.
GRADE – 8.5/10
Episode 7 – “Fish in the Jailhouse
The seventh episode picks up a little bit after the sixth ended, with our heroes separated and shaken from their battle with Elektra. After a strong sixth episode, this penultimate episode of the series lacks a lot of development. Most of the episode is filler and while it is great to see some of the supporting characters come into play for this episode, “Fish in the Jailhouse” ultimately felt a bit lacking in terms of really adding anything to the overall story. One of the stronger points of the episode was Matt’s interaction with Foggy. Seeing them together again after the events of Daredevil season 2 was refreshing, and solidified their relationship as best friends/brothers.
Those small moments that make the episode enjoyable are unfortunately overshadowed by the slow pace the show takes. Knowing that it is closer than ever to it’s climax, the show slows down so much in this episode, taking it’s sweet time to get to where it needs to go. The scenes between Iron Fist and Elektra are filled with sloppy and foggy motivations, but the fight sequences involving the two are enjoyable. Meanwhile, seeing Luke, Jessica, and Matt in a tough spot and basically on the run is another small fun aspect of this episode, but their interactions with each other are limited.
The episode comes to an end with a showdown between Daredevil, Luke, and Jessica versus The Hand, and Iron Fist once again showing himself to be a dumb and reckless hero, accidentally doing exactly what Elektra wants him to, which was also very frustrating to watch. Overall, “Fish in the Jailhouse” was a lackluster and filler type of an episode. I will give it one thing, though. It has a hell of an ending.
GRADE – 6/10
Episode 8 – “The Defenders”
The final episode of the mini series is probably one of it’s strongest, as the episode “The Defenders” shows the heroes making one last stand against The Hand, no matter the cost. Some supporting characters get to shine in this episode as well, with the likes of Claire, Colleen, and Misty playing the role of support to the Defenders, as the four main heroes duke it out with the main leaders of The Hand in a desperate attempt to get rid of them once and for all. One of the great things in this episode was the plot hole that had appeared in Daredevil season 2 that is finally addressed in these last two episodes, finally wrapping everything up nicely.
The emotional stakes are really felt in this episode, in part thanks to some interactions that were given to us in the (mediocre) previous episode. While the overall final plan that The Defenders have is a bit of an odd and ridiculous notion, it doesn’t take away from the emotional weight of the fight between them and The Hand. Although the enemies they are fighting seems to be repetitive after spending the past seven episodes dealing with them, the choreography is still on point and provides some real entertainment, with fight scenes that haven’t been this big in scale since the third episode in this series. Watching all four of these heroes work as one unit and take on 30-something armed men and women was a true pleasure to watch, along with the occasional quip from Jessica.
Because of the intense and dire situation the heroes are in, Charlie Cox gives a great emotional performance in the way that he addresses his fellow Defenders, and you really feel the bond that they have with each other. Even Colleen is given great development and closure with her story arc in this episode, and it is pretty great. By the middle point of this episode, it is evident that these heroes are looking out for each other and are willing to do what is necessary to, well, defend New York City. The final battle reaches the point to where it is Daredevil vs Elektra, with an emotional build up and climax that is so awesome it almost makes you forget how insane and absurd The Defenders final plan is to destroy The Hand.
By the end of the episode (and of the series as a whole) each of the characters have grown a bit, have a new perspective, and are in interesting new places, as well as being aware of the each-others existence. If that wasn’t the point of The Defenders, I don’t know what was. Although it has somewhat of a pointless plot point towards the end of the episode, it was still very fun and interesting to see the new places these characters are in and where they will be headed next in their respective shows. Episode 8, “The Defenders”, was a satisfying conclusion to the series with great emotional story beats, fantastic fight choreography, and certainly left me wanting more and excited to watch the new upcoming seasons of the characters respective Netflix Series.
GRADE – 8.5/10
Written By: Ernesto Valenzuela
The Defenders is currently streaming on Netflix.
The Defenders – Follows Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Danny Rand/Iron Fist (Finn Jones), a quartet of singular heroes with one common goal – to save New York City. This is the story of four solitary figures, burdened with their own personal challenges, who realize they just might be stronger when teamed together.