TV Review: Marvel's The Defenders - 1.05 "Take Shelter"


EPISODE 5: "Take Shelter"

SYNOPSIS: Elektra's loyalties are questioned, Colleen clashes with an old acquaintance, and Luke proves he knows how to take a hit.

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REVIEW: A hallmark of a great event series is that not a moment is wasted in propelling the narrative forward. Films that run anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours tend to focus their stories. We often criticize films that are overlong as having material that could have been excised whereas films that earn their extended run times are often labeled as epic. The Defenders is shorter than the typical 13 episode Marvel/Netflix series that came before it and those shows each had at least one or two hours that could have been truncated to make the shows flow better. The Defenders only has eight episodes to tell a tale billed as epic but this fifth hour is already the second episode in the series that feels like it is treading water. There are absolutely some great moments in "Take Shelter" that we will discuss in this review, but overall it could have been spread in the prior and following episodes and we wouldn't have missed much.

Following Alexandra's threat at the Royal Dragon restaurant in the prior episode, the Defenders find themselves scrambling to protect their loved ones from impending death by The Hand. But, they also have an ace up their sleeve when Luke reappears after having been hit by a truck. In the back of a van, Luke reveals that he captured Sowande, giving them one of the Five Fingers of The Hand as a bargaining chip. Stick watches over Sowande at a warehouse while the rest of the team go gather friends and family. Luke grabs Claire and takes her to Mist Knight's precinct to have them protected but without revealing exactly what is going on. Matt sends Foggy to the station while he has a contentious meeting with Karen Page. Karen goes begrudgingly after realizing this means Matt is resuming his mantle of Daredevil.  Matt seems to have the hardest time of anyone since Elektra is their foe but he dons his costume to aid Jessica. Jessica grabs Trish from a restaurant when they are confronted by Murakami and the trio fight. Matt knocks Murakami off a ledge but he disappears. Jessica then gets in a nice joke about the Daredevil suit.

At the same time, Danny and Colleen are looking for leads on finding The Hand. Colleen doesn't think any of the other heroes should be involved but Danny insists they will be useful. While they scout a building, Colleen is confronted by Bakuto who turns out not to be dead. He tries to recruit her again but they fight and Bakuto slashes her abdomen. Danny and Luke arrive and stop Bakuto from killing Colleen before he vanishes. They then take her to the precinct to get bandaged up. At the precinct, we get a cool scene where all of the major supporting players from every series are gathered together. Some recognize one another while others have never met. It is a nicely shot scene that doesn't feel forced. While they remain at the station, back at the warehouse, Matt uses his interrogation methods to try and get Sowande to talk. He doesn't and Stick takes Matt aside. Stick insists that while Iron Fist is the focal point of what The Hand wants, Matt is the one who is the best person to lead them. Matt scoffs that he doesn't want the responsibility.

At Midland Circle, the remaining Fingers meet. Gao and Bakuto have a stand-off due to his imprisonment of her during Iron Fist's debut season. But, they align that they are on the same side and admire a tapestry showing a temple. This is where they are hoping to return to but can only do so with aid from the Iron Fist. Alexandra and Murakami arrive and they all verbally clash due to Murakami revealing that Daredevil is back. Their biggest issue is that Black Sky seems to maintain Elektra's feeling for Matt Murdock which lessens her power, especially since her resurrection appears to have been aided by the substance that has kept them immortal. Alexandra decries that Black Sky isn't the prophecized weapon they need and also feels confident that Sowande will return to them safely. Things don't look to solid for Alexandra's leadership at this point so I woult not be shocked to see a coup soon. Alexandra then goes to check in on Elektra and finds her room vacant. We see Elektra on a rooftop looking out onto the city. She eventually finds her way to Matt's apartment and looks longingly at the bed they once shared. She then lays down her sword and lays in bed alone, obviously remembering something about her lover.

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At the warehouse, Matt reveals to the team why he has been pursuing Elektra despite it being an endangerment to them all. The team argue about whether Elektra is truly someone they can save and while they squabble, Sowande breaks loose of his ropes and grabs Danny Rand. Posturing that he will escape and there is nothing they can do about it, it appears to be another brilliantly dumb move by Danny to get himself captured. But, at the last moment, Stick swipes his katana and cuts Sowande's head clean off. That now makes The Hand short one Finger.

The background on The Hand and their quest was interesting as was seeing the supporting cast assembled for the first time, but the only moment from this episode that really stood out for me was the return of Daredevil. Again, this was an okay episode and I would probably have not been so harsh if The Defenders had a full 13 episode season, but with eight hours having to count, this episode feels like a waste. Again, there is important narrative exposition here but nothing that is worthy of an entire episode. Sowande's death will have repercussions for The Hand and we will have to see if it was really smart to put all of the expendable characters in a single room together, but I am liking where the show is taking the team by positioning Matt Murdock as the leader. Matt has a lot to learn should he take on the role Stick wants him to, especially if it means stopping Danny Rand from making stupid decisions.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S THE DEFENDERS: "Ashes, Ashes" - Stick offers up a theory, Danny finds himself sidelined, and Alexandra learns that it's not easy being the leader.

Source: JoBlo.com



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