TV Review: Marvel's The Defenders - Season 1 Finale "The Defenders"


EPISODE 8: "The Defenders"

SYNOPSIS: As New York edges closer to disaster, Elektra sees what's beyond the wall, and the Defenders make a last-ditch effort to save the city.

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REVIEW: Eight episodes up and eight episodes down, The Defenders comes to an end with this culmulative hour. But, like all of the Marvel Netflix series to date, we know this is not truly the closing chapter of this edge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since Jeph Loeb announced at San Diego Comic Con last month that every series would be coming back for another run of episodes, the emotional punch of this finale is somewhat underwhelming, which is the best way I can sum up my feelings about the entire series. Yes, The Defenders was enjoyable and entertaining, but it didn't really amount to much of an event. In fact, The Defenders as a unit only really operated as a true team for about ten minutes of an eight hour season. That, coupled with a truly anticlimactic final act, leaves this as something of a dud after all the hype heaped on the show.

The bulk of the hour is spent in the lower levels of Midland Circle where the Substance is revealed to be made from the bones of dragons. The skeleton beneath New York represents the last known source of dragon bones which is why it was so important to the Five Fingers to find it. But, now that they have it somehow New York will fall. It is unclear whether the structural removal of the dragon fossils will cause the city to collapse or if The Hand will blow it up. Honestly, learning what was in that hole beneath the city makes little sense to why The Hand would even want to destroy New York. But, with everyone invested in stopping The Hand, the team gets to work. While Claire and Colleen set the charges, Luke, Matt and Jessica head down an elevator to confront Elektra and The Hand. Of course, Elektra is waiting with her minions but the reason why she wants to face off against The Defenders rather than leave is also unclear. There is a lot of uncertainty in everything going on but we know this is going to lead to a fight.

Up above, Misty Knight shoots her way into the building to try and help stop what is about to happen and comes across Claire and Colleen who have been interrupted by Bakuto. Using psychological tormet to try and get Colleen to make a mistake, Bakuto duels with his former protege who is calmer and more determined to kill her master than before. Claire fights off some thugs and Misty eventually takes a shot at Bakuto but he is immune to bullets. Bakuto prepares to kill Claire when Misty steps in to save her friend and loses her right arm in the process. This clears the way for Colleen to decapitate Bakuto which clears a third member of the Five Fingers. Colleen also discovers Bakuto's body accidentally triggered the bomb detonator timer which gives the Defenders ten minutes to escape. Below, Jessica arrives in the elevator to find Elektra and Gao with thirty soldiers. Luke and Matt jump from the shadows and unite with Danny to fight The Hand. The fight sequence is well choreographed if underwhelming considering some of the truly well sequenced fights on the other series, especially Daredevil. Luke gets some good moves in as does Jessica, but the fight is fairly generic. We do get to see Gao fight against Jessica which is cool but everything else was just decent. Eventually, Matt senses the bomb timer ticking and sends his friends above while he tries once again to persuade Elektra.

Danny, Luke and Jessica head up in the elevator as soldiers climb on the grating along side. Eventually, Elektra throws a sai which severs the elevator cord. Jessica uses her strength to hold it together long enough for Luke and Danny to climb to safety. Below, Matt fights Elektra and tries to get her to remember her goodness. Elektra claims she is now who she was always meant to be. Their fight is intense and reminded me of the fight between Batman and Catwoman in BATMAN RETURNS. There is love and respect as they fight. Eventually, everyone gets free. Gao comes across an impaled and dying Murakami and says this is their end. Matt and Elektra embrace and she says this isn't death but truly living. They kiss and embrace as everyone outside watches Midland Circle erupt in flames and collapse to rubble. The look on The Defenders faces say it all as they truly grasp the sacrifice that Matt Murdock just made to save his city. In fact, Matt's last works to Danny were "protect my city". Maybe this is finally the turning point for Iron Fist to become a true adult.

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The final act of the episode follows up on our characters. Trish and Jessica talk about her heroics and we hear the entire war with The Hand was covered up as poor construction at Midland Circle. No one will truly know what these heroes did which contrasts sharply with THE AVENGERS, but it does explain why these characters will never cross over into the main MCU. Foggy and Karen are left forlorn as they mourn the loss of their friend while Danny is truly impacted by Matt's sacrifice and vows to stay in New York and carry on Matt's quest. Luke and Jessica share a drink and reconcile after what happened last time they were together. Luke eventually returns to spend time with Claire and Jessica heads back to her apartment where Malcolm has fixed her Alias Investigations sign and patched the bullet holes in the wall. Colleen also visits Misty in the hospital where she reveals that Danny has connections to try and get her up and running again, another heavy hint that Misty is about to become more of a superhero like in the comics. Foggy and Karen attend Matt's church and light a candle for him and ponder his memory. In the closing moments, we see a nun sitting next to a hospital bed where a bandaged and unconscious Matt Murdock stirs back to life. It is a cool shot taken directly from the opening splash page of Frank Miller's Daredevil story "Born Again" which will be the focus for the third season of that show.

And that is pretty much it. We have no idea where Elektra has gone or if that truly marks the end of The Hand, but it never really felt like the stakes were all that high. During the earthquake in the first episode, I was sure The Hand were planning something truly massive. After the finale, it just feels like the writers pulled a double switch and turned this from an Iron Fist-centric story to a Daredevil-centric one. In either case, the entire season felt disjointed and narratively incomprehensible. I hope that this just means that the second season of The Defenders will turn into something a bit larger in scale and something that carries more balanced stakes for all four characters. If anything good came from this series it is that now Luke Cage and Danny Rand can cross-over as can Colleen Wing and Misty Knight. I was pulling for a Punisher cameo, but it probably would have made even less sense. I liked The Defenders but I didn't love it. There was some good fan service built into the show but the story feels like one missed opportunity after another. Hopefully this doesn't turn fans off of the Netflix Marvel shows as a whole which have been quite enjoyable. The writers just need to do something much bigger next time.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S THE DEFENDERS:  The Defenders does not have a second season announced (yet) but the post-finale trailer for The Punisher promises that series later this year. 2018 will see the premiere of Daredevil's third season and Jessica Jones' second. Stay tuned for season two for Luke Cage and Iron Fist soon after that.

Source: JoBlo.com



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