Marvel & Netflix’s “The Defenders” Recaps By Penny, Episode 1; The H Word

Ahhh what a long strange trip it’s been. Welcome Pulsers to the latest of the Marvel Netflix recaps on Inside Pulse. After 1 really good series with a not quite as good but still enjoyable second season, (Daredevil), another pretty good and seriously goddamned unsettling one, (Jessica Jones), A damned near absolutely perfect and rare woke one, (Luke Cage), and a kinda shitty tropey one to round them all out, (Iron Fist), we’ve finally come at last to the Defenders, the culmination of the four shows preceding it. Our heroes will finally come together to face down the sinister underlying conspiracy that has woven its threads throughout the Netflix corner of the MCU.

Speaking of that last one, our first episode cold open finds us in an absurdly spacious sewer somewhere in Cambodia, as I, Ron Fist, AKA Danny Rand, and his Action Girl Colleen are chasing and fighting a Hand assailant who was attacking an unnamed man. Danny fights the assailant, (whom we can’t get a clear look at in the dark sewers but who makes feale pain grunts and I’m betting is Elektra) away, but the man she attacked dies right after telling Danny to go back to New York. Cut to opening credits, and after the cheesy 70’s kung fu flick credits of Iron Fist, we’re back on our game with a creepy mildly Matrixy thing going on, where the silhouettes of our heroes are formed from chunks of various sections of New York street maps. They’re also colour coded, and as you’ll soon notice, so is the scene lighting. All throughout this first episode, all of Danny’s scenes have a green tinge, Luke’s have a yellow filter, Jessica’s scenes are always a dank blue. and Matt’s are always steeped in red.

Anyway, after the opening credits, (and the LOOOOONG cast list in them), it’s Jessica’s turn to be reintroduced to the audience, although all of these reintroduction scenes are pretty straight forward as the show clearly assumes you’ve already seen the other four. Jessica wakes up with her face on a bar at a pub in the morning as the owner shoos her out. She fetches some coffee offscreen and shows up just in time to keep her friend Trish’s car from being towed. Trish thanks her and tells her it’s really time she ought to stop being a recluse in her office/apartment and rejoin society, to embrace the fact that she’s a hero now after killing Kilgrave. Jessica balks, wanting no part of this hero nonsense.

Next up in the reintroduction conga is Luke, as he’s being released from Seagate at last. They don’t really explain this, which again shows they’re not treating the audience as idiots. The show is clearly assuming that you already know Claire found that folder of exonerating evidence at the end  of Luke’s first season and got it to a lawyer. who as it turns out is Foggy, who now works for Jeri Hogarth. Luke thanks  him, and teases him over his nickname, and leaves to catch his bus back to New York.

Finally say hi to Matt again, in his loft prepping for a trial. He hears something happening outside and clenches his fist, but relaxes as he then hears police sorting it out. He’s apparently retired from being Daredevil since season 2’s end, and has thrown himself full time into instead standing up for the little guy in court. Skip to the court the next day  where he grills a corrupt corporate guy on the stand and wins a $12’000’000 settlement for the parents of a teenage boy rendered parapalegic by the corporation’s negligence. After the verdict he pulls the kid aside and gives him the peptalk only those of us with disabilities would give, (and specifically lampshades that it’s the complete opposite of the touchy feely peptalk able bodied folks will give him), and tells him life will get harder and no one will give him his life back, he has to find his strength and take his own life back on his own terms.

Karen shows up to greet him and asks him if he wants to go for a bite, and it’s played like this is the first time they’ve seen each other since the end of Daredevil Season 2.

Luke arrives home in Harlem and is greeted by Claire, who immediately asks if they can finally go for some coffee. Cue the hot heavy and furniture destroying I just got out of prison sex scene. Afterwards Luke talks about wanting to help people, while Claire tells him crime is down and wonders how he can lead a normal life as Harlem’s hero. Missy drops by and asks Luke if he’d like to take a walk.

Colleen is on Danny’s private jet looking worried. Danny meanwhile is dreaming about the monestary, littered with the bloodied bodies of all the monks who he grew up with and was raised by. Some stare at him accusingly as Danny then is accosted by he himself. Dream Danny chastizes real Danny for getting them all killed, that’s it’s all his fault. Danny has an HBSOD and wakes up screaming, and in 5 mminutes under a different director and writer he’s already a thousand times more interesting than he ever was in his own series. Colleen tries to get him to talk about the dream, but he blows her off, not wanting to open up about it.

And now, finally, we’re introduced to Sigourney Weaver’s  Big Bad, known simply as Alexandra, who has arrived at a hospital for a CT Scan. Her doctor informs her that all other tests show she’s terminal. She has a few months at best, weeks at worst. And I’m just sitting here completely awed by her complete lack of aging.

Jessica is hung over and arriving home to her office/apartment. A woman and  her daughter accost her in the hallway asking to hire her to track down her  missing husband. She blows her off telling her he’s  probably just cheating on her. But once they’re gone and she’s alone, a voicemasked phone call warns her she better not take the case, and now her curiousity is piqued.

Missy walks with Luke through Harlem, filling him in on what’s happened since he was sent south. Councilwoman Dillard is still a skeevy duplicitous twat, but never in any arrestable way. Plus there has been a strange string of young men murdered shortly after getting high paying new jobs. The surviving brother of the mmost recent victim is also the brother of Candace, the witness against Dillard for murdering her brother Cottonmouth who was herself murdered by Shades at the end of Luke’s first series. Missy suggests Luke can help by doing for the surviving sibling what Pops used to do for at-risk kids in the neighbourhood.

Matt and Karen have an awkward lunch, and she asks Matt if he misses being Daredevil. He lies through his teeth saying no. They awkwardly flirt a little, then Karen gets to work interviewing him about his big court win. Jessica meanwhile is researching the missing architect, finding he is indeed as squeaky clean as his wife thinks. Malcolm comes in and teases her about finally showing interest in a case again after two years hiding from the world. She finds out where the threatening phone call came from, yells at Malcolm to give her her key back, and heads off to the heroin den near the payphone that sent the threatening call.

Alexandra is feeding pigeons in Central Park when Madame Gao shows up. She talks about how the Dutch overpaid the natives for this shtty island. Gao laughs lightly, and tells her that everything is proceeding as planned, and the final phase will be ready to begin in three months. Alexandra quietly orders the timetable be pushed up, and you get to see in one facial expression just how dangerous this mysterious woman must be, because for the first time EVER, Gao is visibly frightened. She agrees to go “inform the others”, after respectfully warning that speeding up the great evil plan will be noticable.

Luke arrives at a slum tenament looking for the brother. Some street toughs blow him off until he lowers his hoodie, then immediately point him in the right direction. Luke tries to inspire the kid to think of his mom and the siblings he’s lost and try to do better, but whatever his brother and now him are involved in, he’s more scared of it killing him than Luke and tells him to leave. Jessica meanwhile, in a similar slum across town, finds the apartment she’s sure the architect is hiding out in, (and I’m just now cluing in to the possibility this might be the same Architect from Iron Fist earlier this year), and instead finds an apartment filled with industrial strength explosives. Danny and Colleen are flying into the city on a helicopter as she tries to convince him to let New York be home.

Gao arrives at Alexandra’s home and finds her on the balcony looking out on the city. She informs her it’s been done and asks if she’s sure about all this. She dismisses Gao. Matt is in his loft after his dinner with Karen, and is about to have a beer to relax when the room starts shaking. But it’s not just him. And Earthquake is shaking all of Manhatten and the surrounding boroughs. Jessica is watching the apartment shake around her and hoping the explosives don’t go off, Luke catches a falling street light before it crushes an older lady standing at the burnt out car with a memorial to the latest Harlem murder victim. Danny and Colleen land just in time to watch half of new York black out as the city shakes, and Matt is bordering on panic as he can hear all the people outside screaming for help.

Alexandra turns to a hooded woman behind her, who indeed turns out to be a now fully resurrected Elektra, and tells her not to worry about the city shaking, because she’ll soon get used to watching entire cities fall.

End of episode.

See you tomorrow for episode 2!

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