Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Defenders Thoughts - ALL EPISODES REVIEW

- LAST UPDATED 23/08/2017 -

THIS BLOGPOST IS NOW COMPLETE AND WILL NOT BE UPDATED FURTHER.

With the launch of the new Marvel TV / Netflix series The Defenders, I thought I’d do something  a bit different on MoviePush this week, in terms of how I share my thoughts on the series and the individual episodes.
Rather than having one blogpost which acts as an overall season review, or having separate in-depth reviews for each episode that I post separately. I thought I’d use one blogpost to include all my thoughts per episode, and update it (frequently) as I watch the season.

Why?

Well for one, I’m not going to be able to binge the series all in one day (life and work prevents that) and to be honest I don’t enjoy binging TV anymore as it doesn’t give me time to consider or think about an episode, I like to savour something I’m enjoying. Secondly, I basically want to experiment with a blog post that organically grows and is updated over the course of a week.

So here we go…

First, a bit of context on my opinions of The Defenders solo seasons so far. I loved Daredevil and Jessica Jones Season 1, and really liked Daredevil Season 2 (though the way they split up The Punisher and Elektra plot felt like two separate seasons). I really enjoyed the first half of Luke Cage season 1, but thought the 2nd half was pretty poor. Iron Fist was ok, it got better as the season progressed, but the lead character Danny Rand was weak. I was never sure if the character was supposed to come across as naive and eccentric on purpose, or that’s just how Finn Jones was acting.

One major problem all the shows have is they drag, they all have a few episodes too many to tell they’re story. The previous seasons have had 13 episodes each and I think these would have been better edited and condensed into 8 or 10. The Defenders is only 8 episodes long so I’m hoping this won’t be an issue.

Either way I’d rank the shows as: -

- Daredevil S1
- Jessica Jones S1
- Daredevil S2
Big gap…
- Luke Cage S1
- Iron Fist S1

Hopefully that gives some context on my existing feelings for the series and how that will influence my thought on The Defenders as I watch it over the next week. I will try to avoid major spoilers in the episode thoughts, however there will likely be mild spoilers as I reference situations that likely follow on from episode to episode.  Major spoilers I will save until the end when I include an overall season review.

Ok, episode thoughts for The Defenders below…

The Defenders – The H Word - Episode 1 Thoughts
Well, I really enjoyed the first episode. It's a slow burn, but I liked the fact the show took the time to re-introduce the characters individually. They all pretty much start from where their respective solo shows left off and with the exception of Matt Murdoch/Daredevil they're all beginning to investigate new cases. I wonder if they'll somehow be linked... as so far the characters have been very standalone.

First thoughts from watching the show is that it really highlights how good Jessica Jones is and how weak Iron Fist is. The contrast between the two is really highlighted as we cut from scene to scene. Sigourney Weaver's character is still shrouded in mystery, but her performance is pretty strong so far. Each character seems to be getting equal amounts of screen time.

The episode ends with a cliffhanger event that we see from each hero's perspective. I really like this and it teases them all coming together (soon?).

Small observation, but I really liked the way each respective character had their own colour scheme graded over each scene. Daredevil = Red, Jessica Jones = Blue, Luke Cage = Yellow and Iron Fist = Green. Nice touch.

8/10 (a solid start)


The Defenders – Mean Right Hook - Episode 2 Thoughts
Now we're getting started!

It's becoming clear that all the hero's investigation are connected, and without spoiling anything this is resulting in multiple cross-overs and meet ups, and not just with the leads. I've got to be honest I'm surprised (and happy) how many of the supporting characters from each of the shows are also in The Defenders. This truly is turning into a very special cross-over event. 

The four heroes have yet to all meet, but the way it's working towards that moment is very effective so far. I'm eager to watch the next episode, and I especially liked how they edited together a few tense sequences between Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist for the 2nd half of this episode.

What is surprising for me is that Daredevil (who is arguably the flagship character) is not pushing the story forward. There is a scene at the end of the episode that brings him in to the fold, but all the other characters are actively progressing their respective investigation. Not a complaint, just a thought.

Loved this episode, having multiple characters meet did give me some geeky thrills and cannot wait for the next. The four characters have yet to all share a scene together, but based on how this episode ends, I'm guessing that's going to happen real soon.

8.5/10 (things are moving along nicely)


The Defenders – Worst Behaviour - Episode 3 Thoughts
I have mixed feelings on this episode.

Just as we were beginning to build momentum in the last episode, this episode opens with a flash back scene that slows down everything. It really feels like they're stalling for the sake of it... Luke Cage and Iron Fist get most of the scenes, and as with the last episode I'm surprised how little Matt Murdoch / Daredevil is contributing to the overall story so far. Despite a couple of the key characters meeting and talking for a while the leads are mainly kept separate for most of the time. 

That is until the last ten minutes and the obligatory hallway fight scene... which is pretty awesome though not quite on the same level as the Daredevil season 2 version. This is the first time we have all the characters together in a truly spectacular sequence, and just has we get them all properly together for a chat we... cut to credits. On to the next episode...

7.5 (the last ten minutes save it)


The Defenders – Royal Dragon - Episode 4 Thoughts
I'm spotting a pattern, fairly slow episode that builds to an exciting cliffhanger that entices you to start watching the next one. Guess this is part of the Netflix binge culture...

So we finally have the hero's together and they spend literally the whole episode in a restaurant discussing their next move. However, Jessica Jones leaves part way through, so again they're not all together. Saying that it is great to watch the characters cut down and challenge each other and discuss the problem. It's sort of like the drinking scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron for an extended period of time.

By the end of the episode it seems like we have the group together and now I assume The Defenders will work together for the remainder of the season (well I hope so!).Interesting we haven't seen Daredevil in costume yet either.

8/10 (slow conversations)


The Defenders – Take Shelter - Episode 5 Thoughts
The Defenders hits its stride and we finally get a costumed Daredevil in the mix. This is easily the best episode so far in my opinion, for several reason…

One, we have The Defenders working together and basically fulfilling the promise of the series.

Two, due to story-reasons the majority of supporting characters are all pulled together, meaning we no longer need to have each individual character swan off every other scene to meet them and kill the momentum.

Three, we see the full extent of the organisation "The Hand" and the 5 characters that make up "The Fingers”. We get a better idea of their plan, their motivations, but also some relationship conflicts that automatically make this aspect of the show more interesting. A returning character from Iron Fist also adds more tension…

Four, Daredevil is “officially” back and taking more of a lead. I’d mentioned in earlier episodes I was surprised he wasn’t contributing as much as the other players, but it looks like we were building to this.

Five, we get multiple exciting fight sequences – the big sequence at the start which also helps demonstrate how powerful the individual antagonist of The Hand are, but also show-cases The Defenders working and building on each other’s strengths. There's also a great fight with Iron Fist, which I think is probably the best choreographed scene we've had for him so far.

Six, the interrogation scene. Again, demonstrating Daredevil is a force to be reckoned with and as a result the other Defenders are taking him seriously.

Seven, Elektra / The Black Sky is beginning to sense her origins and we get a end shot that is much more interesting and intriguing, then the cheap mid-scene cliffhanger cuts we’ve had in the previous two episodes.

If the rest of the season keeps up this momentum, we’re in for a great time.

9/10 (the season delivers on it’s promise)


The Defenders – Ashes, Ashes - Episode 6 Thoughts
A relatively slow paced episode overall, with a short burst of excitement at the start and then a fairly shocking final 10 minutes, that leaves you wanting to watch the next episode immediately.

There’s definitely an ebb and flow to this series, just as we get a peak, the showrunners seem to slam on the brakes and pull us back to slow everything down. This episode is definitely slower than the previous. I’m hoping it’s full steam ahead for the final two episodes after this ending!

In terms of the content of the episode itself…

A fight sequence between the four leads that opens the episode is great, if somewhat contrived as to why they’re fighting… The choreography between Daredevil and Iron Fist section is particularly great.

However this results in a situation where the Defenders are separated and literally leaves two of them just waiting around. On the flip side we get time between Jessica Jones and Matt Murdoch (the two strongest characters in my opinion) working together which is great. We know Jessica Jones and Luke Cage work well together, but this dynamic seems just as strong. The Luke Cage and Danny Rand relationship also develops in some downtime.

There are two shocking moments (deaths?) towards the end of episode, that really leaves me anticipating where the story goes from here. As with most of The Defenders episodes so far, the final 10 minutes are significantly better than the rest of the episode.

Final point - No costumed Daredevil in this episode, call me a fanboy but at this stage we’ve had almost 6 hours of The Defenders and less than 5 minutes of Daredevil.

8.5/10 (intense sections bookend an otherwise calm episode)


The Defenders – Fish In The Jailhouse - Episode 7 Thoughts
My favourite episode of the season so far was episode 5, mainly because we had The Defenders working as a unit and the main antagonists plans became clear and they were becoming a credible threat. 

However, following the events and shock deaths at the end of episode 6, the series loses all of that. Iron Fist is reduced to nothing more than a McGuffin and the original villain with interesting motivation is replaced by a generic “I just want power” type villain. This seems to be the running theme with the series, we’re shown glimpses of its potential and then we just do something else to slow things down.

This episode also really highlighted the problems with this version of Iron Fist, he’s always come across as eccentric and naïve, but after his actions during this episode, lets add reckless and stupid. Compared to the other 3 Defenders he’s the stroppy teenager following his emotions blindly.

Talking of which, the remaining Defenders are left moping around a police station and travelling by subway to the (presumably) final destination for the majority of this episode. Not exactly the exciting penultimate episode you’d expect this late in a season.

Frustratingly, when the episode gets to the climatic fight with the remaining members of “The Hand”, as well as a fight between Iron Fist and Elektra, this is so badly edited together it’s difficult to understand what’s going on or get excited.


7/10 (a pen-ultimate let down)


The Defenders –  The Defenders - Episode 8 Thoughts
The show continues its stroll into mediocrity. After a satisfying build up from episode 1 through to 6, the final two episodes have fizzled out into just bland TV filler.

Episode 7 & 8 do very much feel like a part 1 & 2 (more so than any other set of episodes) and as such most of my thoughts from the previous episode run in to this one. Badly choreographed fight sequences, poor villain, lame Iron Fist, etc.

I really don’t like what they’ve done with Elektra, she was great in Daredevil Season 2 and she’s great in The Defenders, but she shouldn’t be the main villain The Defenders are facing in the climax and her motivations just fall flat.

As this is the finale, you’d expect lots of confrontation (which we get), but these are so uninventive they’re actually a bit boring to watch. Just playing some hip-hop music over a fight scene doesn’t make it any more interesting. This is odd as the fight sequences from earlier in the season have been much better, but I guess they ran out of ideas by this point. It’s even more bizarre that nothing in this season has even come close to the spectacular sequences from Daredevil S1 and S2. I hope the original fight choreographer is back for DD S3!

Without going into spoilers, it’s a shame to say this season has had very little impact on any of the characters. Yes, Misty lost an arm and Daredevil is a little beat up (but when hasn’t he been), but I can’t see anything that’s happened in this series having a lasting impressions on them. As a result their respective solo season can begin and pretty much ignore the events of this show.

7/10 (disappointing finale)


The Defenders – Season 1 Overall Review
So my summary of the season as a whole with some specific spoilers…

Despite its flaws, I did enjoy The Defenders overall, it didn’t blow me away in the same way like recent seasons of Game of Thrones or Ozark have, but it was watchable and showed some genuine promise. My biggest disappointment is thinking of what it could have been, if we’d built on those moments of greatness rather than stop every time something interesting started to happen we’d have a great show.

As it stands, I’d place The Defenders in the middle of pack compared to the other Netflix Marvel shows, better than Luke Cage and Iron Fist, but nowhere near the heights of both seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

Although it created a shocking moment for episode 6, I think the biggest mistake the show made was killing Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandria. Once this happened the villains plan lost all credibility and I didn’t really understand Elektra’s motivations outside of cliché I want more power. I think a much more interesting development would to have had Electra going rogue and playing a more antagonist anti-hero type character, between both The Defenders and The Hand.

I mentioned it earlier, but this interpretation of Iron Fist doesn’t work for me, he’s supposed to be the best fighter in the world yet every one of The Defenders and Elektra better him at some point in the series. He constantly has to tell people how good he is and how powerful he is, but the show rarely shows us this in his actions. I still can’t decide whether this is an issue with Finn Jones acting or the scripts he’s working with. To me, I see Iron Fist acting more along the lines of an enlightened Neo from The Matrix.

Bringing all the heroes together really highlighted how good Jessica Jones is as a character, she’s the most interesting and has the most charisma. Matt Murdoch and Luke Cage are both great, but JJ is on another level in my opinion.

Once again… Daredevil was barely in the season, yes Matt Murdoch is, but actual costumed Daredevil barely makes an appearance. We get a glimpse mid-season and then for the finale, but little else. This upsets me… and really reflects my thoughts on the season overall. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t give me as a fan of the source material what I wanted.

That in itself is my biggest disappointment with The Defenders. 

This article was written by @RossBishop. Follow me on Twitter.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting read as ive followed it by episode. I can see where you are coming from in certain areas with pace changes and the finale fight in most parts was a messy blur but as i said on twitter i do see the need for time for character and relationship development. With so many players you need a few moments to weave some threads ready for the future series and where they may head. Examples being Luke and Danny as a team, Jessica and Luke's obvious coming relationship complete with marriage and child, Misty and Coleen's eventual team up as per comics and then intwining the background characters in for the solo outings, Foggy and Karen have big parts to play in Born Again now we know its confirmed for example. I did also say on twitter i was confused and surprised Alexandra was killed off without spoiling it and in the method she went too. Elektra is powerful enough to warrant being a main villian and she has led The Hand before but felt she should have maybe stayed her hand until at least the finale. Elektra and Matt are each others weaknesses and will forever stop short of defeating each other for good and seems the series has made it clear it will follow suit.

    As for Danny, AKA The Iron Fist he pretty much is the naive baby of the group. But as you saw in his first outing and in The Defenders he is yet to realise his full potential and really 'unleash'. This series was also a bit of a coming of age period where after witnessing "Matt's sacrifice" he finally gets what it means to protect a city so selflessly so can only hope its now season 2 of Iron Fist complete with costume and no holds barred.

    I was as frustrated as you about lack of Daredevil in his suit but can also see how Matt is going through his period of abandoning the persona to try to appease his loved ones and keep his identity hidden.

    Overall i liked the series, good moments, bad finale battle and some confusing ones but sets up or resumes the solo continuations nicely without feeling forced whilst giving the 4 a chance to meet. Taken in context with the time scale the series takes place in it doesnt seem so bad. Can now look forward to The Punisher.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting read as ive followed it by episode. I can see where you are coming from in certain areas with pace changes and the finale fight in most parts was a messy blur but as i said on twitter i do see the need for time for character and relationship development. With so many players you need a few moments to weave some threads ready for the future series and where they may head. Examples being Luke and Danny as a team, Jessica and Luke's obvious coming relationship complete with marriage and child, Misty and Coleen's eventual team up as per comics and then intwining the background characters in for the solo outings, Foggy and Karen have big parts to play in Born Again now we know its confirmed for example. I did also say on twitter i was confused and surprised Alexandra was killed off without spoiling it and in the method she went too. Elektra is powerful enough to warrant being a main villian and she has led The Hand before but felt she should have maybe stayed her hand until at least the finale. Elektra and Matt are each others weaknesses and will forever stop short of defeating each other for good and seems the series has made it clear it will follow suit.

    As for Danny, AKA The Iron Fist he pretty much is the naive baby of the group. But as you saw in his first outing and in The Defenders he is yet to realise his full potential and really 'unleash'. This series was also a bit of a coming of age period where after witnessing "Matt's sacrifice" he finally gets what it means to protect a city so selflessly so can only hope its now season 2 of Iron Fist complete with costume and no holds barred.

    I was as frustrated as you about lack of Daredevil in his suit but can also see how Matt is going through his period of abandoning the persona to try to appease his loved ones and keep his identity hidden.

    Overall i liked the series, good moments, bad finale battle and some confusing ones but sets up or resumes the solo continuations nicely without feeling forced whilst giving the 4 a chance to meet. Taken in context with the time scale the series takes place in it doesnt seem so bad. Can now look forward to The Punisher.

    ReplyDelete