Marvel’s The Defenders, Episodes 5-8, 2017
Directed by: Uta Briesewitz (episode 5), Stephen Surjik (episode 6), Felix Enriquez Alcala (episode 7), Farren Blackburn (episode 8)
Starring: Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Finn Jones, Eke Darville, Elden Henson, Jessica Henwick, Simone Missick, Ramon Rodriguez, Rachael Taylor, Deborah Ann Woll, Elodie Yung, Rosario Dawson, Scott Glenn, Sigourney Weaver
The second half of Marvel’s The Defenders certainly picked up the action compared to the first half, as The Hand’s desires become revealed and the Defenders are forced to unite in their effort to learn, understand and fight against The Hand. However, it does suffer some of the same criticisms as the first half: its darkness and its pace.
Each series of Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Marvel’s Iron Fist, Marvel’s Luke Cage and Marvel’s Daredevil runs for 13 episodes, and when you look over at DC’s TV shows (The Flash, Supergirl and Arrow) they all run for over 20 (they are aired on TV and not Netflix), and this series felt really, really short and compressed compared to everything else. There wasn’t much time for a serious chase, or serious understanding of the villains, instead they learn, work out where they are and go and track them down (it was also quite confusing why they spent most of the penultimate episode inside a jail cell talking to the police, rather than being out there and fighting). And, speaking of the fighting, while the fight scenes were brilliant and well-choreographed, when several episodes feature very similar fighting it does water its impact down somewhat. While brilliant and impressive, it does become repetitive by the final fight scene at the end.
Its only other major criticism is the colour scheme. Most of the action takes place at night, and the final scenes are underground, with others being in a dimly lit Chinese restaurant or dark buildings, there are many times when the darkness becomes too much. Especially when the fight scenes are also in darkness meaning there are moments when it becomes confusing as to whom is hitting whom.
Criticisms aside, though, there are some brilliant parts to this series: notably, character development. While the main cast of heroes have had their first seasons to flesh out their history, characters such as Elektra (Elodie Yung) and Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver, Alien) have brilliant character arcs. Elektra, having been brought back to life, soon meets up with Matt Murdock/Daredevil (Charlie Cox), an old lover, and this sets off feelings and memories inside Elektra (now operating as The Black Sky), and there is a beautiful moment where she returns to her former home and curls up in her bed. Elodie Yung also plays this part beautifully, as her face remains with the same hardened expression but there’s a clear sense of sadness within it. Alexandra surprisingly gets a lot of time (not surprising considering the name acting the role), as we learn more about her history, her business’ resources being spent on bringing back Elektra and her past encounters with the other remaining members of the five ‘fingers’ of The Hand. It’s unusual to have a villain not coming across as this ultimate dominant and unstoppable force, with Alexandra coming across as a survivor more than a fighter (despite her lack of caring for death). While that may dampen the final end fighting scenes against The Hand (as we’re not led to believe they’re this unstoppable force), it does create some brilliant characters.
And I have to mention a scene during Farren Blackburn’s episode as the group go to see their loved ones but two characters wait and wait and wait, and stare at the door, and we flick between their ever-saddening faces and the door with this agonising wait for their loved one. This is one of the best scenes throughout the whole programme as the music, the acting, the scenario, the directing; everything came together perfectly. Speaking of music, though, in the final massive fight scene there’s a random song that plays; never before has a song played during a fight scene, and it didn’t flow with the fight scene, it sounded really weird and out of place.
While a nice introduction to the Defenders as a team, a future season definitely needs more episodes and a stronger, and more terrifying, villain (although the character-build should remain). Some brilliant scenes, integrated with some well-choreographed fight scenes, and a nice dynamic between the heroes made this an enjoyable show.
Overall Rating: * * *