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TV Review: Marvel's The Defenders - 1.06 "Ashes, Ashes"

08.23.2017

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EPISODE 6: "Ashes, Ashes"

SYNOPSIS: Stick offers up a theory, Danny finds himself sidelined, and Alexandra learns that it's not easy being the leader.

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REVIEW: I am at something of a loss here. The sixth episode of The Defenders is appropriately named due to the deaths of a pair of major characters, both of whom I really didn't see kicking the bucket in this hour. Maybe that is naivete on my part or it could be the result of some fairly sloppy scripting that has plagued a good portion of this series thus far. The Defenders has had some quite good hours mixed in with some really mediocre ones. Like the fifth episode, this one feels like it is treading water to provide a couple of significant plot developments stretched out to fill an hour of television. I am starting to think that Netflix and Marvel should have just made this series a six part event and just given us the best elements of what we have seen so far.

Picking up with the Defenders standing over the decapitated body of Sowande, the episode opens with our heroes turning on Danny Rand. To be honest, I am shocked they dealt with his dumb decisions this long, but that is just me. No, in reality they now know that The Hand wants and needs the Iron Fist to fulfill their master plan, so Matt and Stick decide that they need to keep Danny locked up until they can stop their enemy. Jessica and Luke follow suit in this being their only decision and a fight breaks out. It is a cool sequence seeing everyone going at each other, but soon Jessica knocks Danny out cold. They take Danny to a safehouse and Stick ties him up using a knot that will choke him the more he tries to break free. Jessica and Matt leave to investigate the architect of Midland Circle while Luke stays to watch Danny. Stick doesn't say much but stays with Luke and begins meditating silently.

At the same time, Elektra dreams of her prior life. Specifically, she remembers waking up in Matt Murdock's bed while he looks on at her longingly. It is a quiet moment that sticks with Elektra when she does awaken. But, she now has a new resolve. Something has definitely changed in her but we don't find out what that is until later in the episode. Jessica and Matt investigate the architect and visit his home where his daughter lets them in. They talk to her about fathers. Jessica regales her with the story of Matt's father, something we find out after was from her investigating him when he entered her life. The daughter opens up a bit and makes a comment about playing piano with her dad. Matt goes to the piano and they find blueprints hidden in the instrument which reveal a dome-shaped object at the bottom of the hole Matt found where the Midland Circle building now stands. They then make their way back to the warehouse.

At the warehouse, Danny awakens and Luke stands guard over him. Danny implores Luke to let him go but Luke refuses and goes back to reading his newspaper. Danny tries to convince Luke they work well as partners but Luke shuts him down. Looking at a sad Iron FIst, Luke asks him about getting his powers and they begin to find common ground. They talk about Luke's relationship with Jessica and seem to be making amends. Luke then goes over to Stick to see what he is meditating on. Stick wafts some of his incense at Luke which turns out to be a gas to knock the big man out. Stick then makes his way over towards Danny and says they have another option aside from hidng Danny or letting The Hand get him. Stick begins to position his sword to kill Danny when Elektra bursts in. She fights Stick as a helpless Danny eventually passes out when the gas reaches him. Matt and Jessica enter and watch as Elektra thrusts her sword into Stick's chest, killing him. She recognizes Matt and calls him by his first name before knocking him and Jessica out and jumping through the window with Danny over her shoulder.

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The episode was also full of rumblings within The Hand. The episode started with Alexandra listening to a skipping record, a metaphor for her impending death. Through conversations with Gao and later Murakami, it becomes apparent that the remaining Fingers have lost faith in their leader in the wake of receiving Sowande's head in a box courtesy of Stick. By the episode's end, Murakami comes with an old bottle of champagne and tells Alexandra this is her final meal. In the face of her murderer, Alexandra stands firm and it almost seems as if she is about to throw down with her colleagues. But, at the last moment, Elektra arrives with Danny, proving Alexandra's decision was right. They strap Danny to a gurney and tell him they will use him to regain the substance that gives them immortality. Danny refuses, obviously, and Alexandra turns to make a proclamation of her leadership and plans for The Hand to regain their powers by killing The Defenders when she is suddenly stabbed through the back by a pair of sai. Alexandra drops to the floor and Elektra cuts off her head after naming Daredevil as "Matthew". She turns to the remaining fingers and says she is Elektra Natchios and they all work for her now.

I would say I was shocked to see Sigourney Weaver exit before the end of the series, but Luke Cage had the same twist when Mahershela Ali was killed halfway through the season. What becomes very disappointing here is that Alexandra was posited as such a powerful villain and these episodes teased a dark history for her and we don't get to find out any of that. In the end, Alexandra feels like a half-realized creation. At the same time, Stick being killed off feels like the safest way to band the group together as he was the closest thing to a Phil Coulson on this show. Still, Stick's decision to turn on Danny felt like it came out of nowhere and the unceremonious way he died didn't pack the punch it should have. Plus, having Stick and Alexandra both die in such close succession feels more like an attempt to build up Elektra as a strong villain more than anything. Once again, this episode had some good moments and some truly memorable ones, but the overall hour was too uneven in pacing and storytelling for me. Two episodes left and The Defenders has a lot of improvement needed in a short amount of time.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S THE DEFENDERS: "Fish in the Jailhouse" - Matt, Jessica and Luke embark on a desperate search. Colleen and Claire debate heroism. Elektra tries to recruit an all-important ally.

Source: JoBlo.com

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