The Defenders Season 1 Episode 5: Take Shelter Recap


This episode is all about the Defenders vs the Hand, as the Defenders begin to define themselves as a team, while the Hand lets infighting and old grudges continue to drive them apart. The visual style of the show changes to reflect this.

In the beginning of the episode, the Defenders signature colors of green, yellow, blue and red fuse into soft mixed colors, like peach, chartreuse, gold and lavender. They gradually give way to industrial grays made of metal and concrete, and the cold whites associated with Alexandra, as the Hand becomes more prominent in the episode.

Elektra also shifts through being surrounded by Alexandra’s white and wearing Matt’s red, to wearing her own color, black, with just a hint of Matt’s red, and placing herself in Matt’s apartment. Interestingly, Matt’s apartment has art and other prominent accents in Jessica’s blue. A hint for the long-term future?

The same change happens in the motifs within the sets. The first part of the episode is filled with bars, gates, metalwork, brickwork and walls. Enclosing and confining, but still able to be escaped and seen around or through. The second half is filled with concrete walls, to the point of feeling like the rooms are underground bunkers. Characters are in the police station, a warehouse, and where ever the Hand elite live. All are places to keep prisoners or hostages. The Defenders are closing in on the Hand, and so is fate.


Dramatic classical music plays over the flapping pages sound with the Marvel logo. Very stirring.

The fingers of the Hand and their armies are descending on the Royal Dragon to take down the Defenders. Murakami makes the first exciting entrance, jumping in through the glass-domed roof.

Alexandra declines to get her hands dirty again, and slips out. She watches the rest of the fight from her van. I’ll give her a pass on this one. There are a lot of other people there to do the fighting, and her organs are turning to mush, after all.

Next, Sowande and Gao arrive, guns ablazin’. Gao has to remind Sowande that they need Danny alive. Sowande has a major thing for carnage.

Everybody hits the floor, except Luke, who stands in his protective pose. I love how he tries to shield the entire room from getting hit by bullets. If only he could create a shield as big as his heart.

When there’s a break in the shooting, the Defenders jump up and stand in a circle, facing outward, ready to take on the world. Stick tells them that if they work together, they’ll get out alive.

Matt and Elektra immediately gravitate to each other, fight their way down the hallway (because of course there’s a hallway), and out the back door. They keep fighting. Matt tells Elektra that he knows her. She died. He held her in his arms. He buried her, Bucky Elektra. Bucky Elektra. That’s her name.

She stops fighting and stares at him, clearly thinking, “Who the hell is Bucky Elektra?

He reaches out to her, asking what they’ve done to her, and telling her he can help her. But just then Murakami comes looking for them and slams the door. She grabs Murakami, tosses him 20 feet or so into a wall, and disappears into the night.

As the fighting winds down inside, Sowande and Luke end up outside. Sowande pushes Luke into the street and says, “They say you can’t be broken. We’ll see about that.” A truck seemingly flattens Luke against its grill like a fly and keeps going. Sowande jumps into a van and follows.

Danny is cornered in the hallway by Gao and her men. It looks like we’re going to get a big Iron Fist hallway fight. Instead, Jessica and Stick rescue him, and they escape out the back to find Matt still there. Jessica blocks the door with a dumpster, cause it gives her a thrill to move giant, heavy things around. Sticks leads them down into the sewer.


Gao’s goons can’t get the door open, so she uses her powers. One quick blast from the palm of her hand, and the door goes flying. She’s been holding out on us. I think I also caught her sending Danny flying down the hallway with a hand blast.

Danny takes the gang to the dojo. Luke shows up soon after, with Sowande as his captive. He’s very proud.

Opening credits. It feels like it should be half over, after all of the action mixed with plot.

Alexandra finds Elektra sharpening her blade in her cell. Elektra puts the blade in Alexandra’s face and asks Who was the man on the bridge? Who was the man by the dumpster? looks menacing.

Alexander Pierce Alexandra is unperturbed and praises Elektra’s fighting skills. She tells Elektra about her birth daughter that died long ago, and that Elektra is her true daughter. Elektra is meant to shape the century. This is the life Elektra was chosen to lead, as a weapon against their enemies. If she doesn’t fulfill her role, she’s of no use. Elektra says, “But I knew him.” “Of course not.” They touch foreheads, Alexandra’s mother-daughter bonding gesture.

Murakami enters and announces that Sowande has been taken. Alexandra says their reinforcements from South America will arrive soon. Murakami wants to discuss another matter as well. Alexandra leaves. Elektra gives Murakami the death glare before he follows. She freakin’ hates the rest of the Hand.

The Defenders have taken Sowande to a warehouse that Danny owns. Sowande was trained in K’un Lun, so there’s no point in using torture techniques on him. He, on the other hand, specializes in verbal manipulation. He’s an expert in figuring out someone’s regrets and fears, then getting inside their head. He also calls Danny the dumbest Iron Fist yet, which, much as I love the guy, is probably fair.

The Defenders take Sowande’s threats toward their loved ones seriously, so they all head out to round up their people. Luke goes to Claire’s house. She’s an old hand at this, and isn’t as upset as he is. She’s also surrounded by a gorgeous peach, which would be Luke and Matt’s colors combined. Awww.


Colleen and Danny keep watch in the car. Colleen isn’t so sure about this group, and thinks maybe they should go back to working on their own. I’m not clear on her issues. She might be feeling marginalized. She’s dripping in teal, Jessica and Danny’s colors. Maybe picking up some of Jessica’s alienation and suspicion.

Two black vans show up outside of Claire’s house. Colleen and Danny split up to investigate. Colleen finds her old, recently deceased Sensei Bakuto. They talk about the good old days, when he indoctrinated her into the Hand without telling her that’s what he was doing. He slices into her stomach, then taunts Danny for a while before disappearing.


Matt goes to Karen’s office to convince her to go into police protection. She’s not upset about the danger to herself, or the millions of people in NYC. She’s upset that Matt is Daredevil again. Karen has some issues with her priorities which she developed when Elektra was brought onto DD in season 2. Karen had to become a rigid good girl counterpoint to Elektra’s bad girl, rather than the fully-rounded, complex person she’d been in season 1. But I’m not bitter. Plot-based female lobotomies for the win!!

Luke runs point at the police station, since he has an in with his favorite officer, Misty Knight. She begs him to bring her into the loop, but he thinks it’s too dangerous. Better that she stumble into the dangerous situations without knowing what she’s getting herself into, right? In the meantime, he asks if the police will protect the friends and relatives.

Stick has a few words with Sowande. Matt comes back and they engage in some verbal sparring. Stick tells Matt that he’s meant to be the leader of the Defenders.

Jessica interrupts Trish mid-sentence at a dinner meeting. Goons are already after her. They end up in a ball room lit in red, blue and lavender, just in time for Murakami and Daredevil to show up for the fight. Together, Jessica and Matt easily take care of Murakami. Matt has finally put the d*mn costume back on.


Claire patches up Colleen’s abdomen. Colleen tells Claire about growing up in a cult, and how it skews your perceptions. She just wants something stable to hold onto. Claire tells Colleen that she is the foundation. Not sure that really helps. Colleen needs a safe place of her own, not just to be other people’s safe place.

Misty introduces herself and asks about Colleen’s katana, Colleen says that she can take care of herself. She tells Misty that these bad guys won’t care that Misty’s a cop. Misty gives Colleen back her Katana.

The Hand meet and quarrel some more. Gao has issues with Bakuto being a jerk with poor judgement. Murakami is pissed that Elektra tried to kill him and that Daredevil, Elektra’s former lover, is working with the Iron Fist. They all realize the implications of this. If Elektra’s memories are returning, she will become dangerous to them. They are vulnerable to death without the substance, which Alexandra used up to bring back Elektra. The other three wonder if they’d be better off without Alexandra.

Daredevil takes over the interrogation of Sowande, using a cool rope/wire weapon. Sowande uses Matt’s guilt over Elektra’s death against him. Matt gets pissed, knocks Sowande out, and takes a break.

Stick insists that Matt tell the rest of the team the truth about him and Elektra. Matt tells them Elektra’s story. Jessica and Luke have trouble believing that Elektra came back from the dead. Danny’s mad that Matt continued to lie after they said they’d told each other everything important relevant to the Hand. Stick insists that killing Elektra is the best plan, because that’s always Stick’s answer. Matt thinks he can save Elektra, because he’ll never give up on her.

Meanwhile, as they quarrel, Sowande wakes up, sneaks over, and grabs Danny. He holds a piece of broken glass to Danny’s throat and starts making the usual grandiose villain speech about the war being over. Stick matter of factly slices Sowande’s head off, because sometimes his answer is the right answer.

Alexandra looks for Elektra in her dungeon cell, but Elektra is in Matt’s territory, on a rooftop overlooking Hell’s Kitchen. She’s in her floor length black coat. Then she goes to Matt’s apartment and wanders through, touching things, possibly remembering. She goes into Matt’s bedroom, curls up on his bed in the fetal position, and falls asleep.



All Captain America: The Winter Soldier references TM Metamaiden.

It’s very wrong that we never got to see Bucky turn up in Steve’s bed. Just sayin’. I guess Steve technically turned up in Bucky’s bedroom two movies later, then they took part in an epic fight, which is what substitutes for sex with them. Also, Matt and Elektra get to have actual sex instead of symbolic sex. #Admit they’re boyfriends, Marvel.

I don’t actually believe that neither Stick not Matt would have caught any signs of Sowande regaining consciousness. I’m not clear on whether the fingers have a heartbeat, but even without one, he made tiny movements, and his breathing would have changed. Stick, at the very least, would have been paying attention.

Alexandra is a mother who believes in tough love. She may have brought Elektra back from the dead and used up valuable resources on her, but she’ll still cut Elektra off in a hot minute if Elektra disobeys instructions.

More mirrors and glass for Elektra and Alexandra. This time, Danny almost gets killed by a piece of it. Alexandra is wearing less white and more metallics.

This is another beautifully made episode. It’s enjoyable to watch it just for the visually hints and symbolism alone.