The Defenders Season 1 Episode 4: Royal Dragon Recap

TD104RoyalDragon

This is my favorite episode of the season. Most of the episode takes place in the Royal Dragon Chinese restaurant, which is filled with neon light, like above, that’s used beautifully. The four defenders, and their signature colors, are brought together to hash out whether they’ll work together or not, and to compare notes to figure out what the heck is going on.

The restaurant itself adds noir elements like a certain grittiness, deep shadows and Venetian blinds. The party is eventually joined by the darker, more ambiguous members of the cast, Stick, Alexandra, and Elektra, to fill out the range of shadows and colors along with the range of possibilities the characters can choose to go.

The camera pans down the dragon sign and into the restaurant in a single shot, showing a quiet, empty place with an owner who’s closing up for the night. Suddenly, the camera movements become fast, jerky, and unpredictable, as the Defenders burst in through the front door. They take over the restaurant as their temporary hideout from the Hand.

As the camera jumps and swings between characters, we get to know each Defender, their relationships with each other, and they get to know each other a bit more. Danny is impressed with Jessica’s strength as she tips a bureau up on end in front of the door. Jessica is surprised that Danny knows Chinese. Luke can’t figure out how someone can hear neon lights (I have that superpower too!). Matt is mostly just paranoid and authoritative. He’s the one who secures all of the entrances.

Luke and Jessica are sweeter with each other than they’ve been with anyone else so far, and spend a moment catching up. My shipper heart is very happy. Jessica calls Danny the boy billionaire, and Matt her blind, but maybe not, lawyer. When Matt asks how they know each other, Jessica describes their short-lived relationship: “We met, we drank, I shot him in the head.”

TD104Danny&Jessica

Danny is hella proud of himself for both knowing the Chinese to negotiate with the restaurant owners and having the black card to pay them off. He was always the odd man out in K’un-Lun, and had to fight for what was rightfully his at Rand Enterprises. It’s cool for him to be able to use those hard won assets to be a hero.

No one else knows his background, so they aren’t impressed, and commence arguing like a herd of cats. Matt refuses to take Jessica’s scarf off his face, out of some misguided idea that no one will know who he is with it on.

Servers bring out platters of food, helpfully identified by Matt, so they move to the table to eat, arguing the whole way. Matt feels that everyone should go back to their lives and stay away from the Hand. Danny’s like, What life? Fighting the Hand is his life. Luke is basically the same, since they’re threatening his town and people. Jessica just wants to solve her case, with as little trouble as possible.

TD104Luke&Matt

They share what they each know about the Hand. It’s an ancient, immortal criminal organization that lives by a fanatical ideology that its minions are willing to die for. They are global, secretive, and evil. Their reason for being in NY isn’t known, but it has something to do with immortality. They want power and influence at every level across the world, and they want Danny, because he’s the Immortal Iron Fist. Once again, no one is impressed. Poor kid.

They try to figure out who Elektra is, and that’s enough for Matt. He tries to leave, but the others aren’t ready to let him go with the knowledge about them that he has, while he’s keeping secrets. Jessica pulls him aside and tells him that she knows he’s Daredevil, not just Matt Murdock, and it won’t take Luke and Danny long to figure it out, too. She also knows that he has good reasons to want to finish this, just like the rest of them.

She convinces him to stay. He finally takes the stupid scarf off and introduces himself.

Black Sky stands in front of a mirror and stares at the scars from the mortal wounds of her previous life. Alexandra finds her there, and explains again that her life is new, but her body has lived before. Black Sky is confused, and asks if Black Sky is all that she is. Alexandra tells her that Black Sky is enough, and that Elektra had been led astray by others in her past life. She is Alexandra’s last hope. They share a close moment, but Black Sky is still pensive.

TD104Alex&Elektra

Danny makes his pitch to the other three to get them to join him in his fight against the Hand. Before the discussion goes far, Stick shows up. He and Matt explain that Stick is the last remaining member of the Chaste, the army dedicated to the Immortal Iron Fist. Danny is excited to hear he has an army, except they’re all dead. Kid can’t catch a break.

Stick says he’s come because Danny still has his cell phone, and has it turned on. He smashes it so that the Hand can’t use it to find Danny.

Stick starts in on one of his patented lectures, but Matt interrupts and tries to drag him away for a private talk. Stick manages to get the others’ attention by telling them that they are in a Doomsday scenario. The Hand intends to bring down NYC, just like they’ve brought on other historical disasters like Chernobyl and Pompeii. The only people who can stop it are the four Defenders.

Jessica has heard enough, and says she’s done. Stick yells at her to sit down and shut up, as if she’s a child. Jessica keeps walking. I am so very, very happy that she did.

Luke follows her out to the street to convince her to stay, but she doesn’t want to be involved in a war that’s not her fight. She just wants answers for her client.

Alexandra meets with one of the other fingers of the Hand, Murakami, as he’s eviscerating an endangered bear. He notes that Alexandra usually doesn’t like to get her own hands dirty. The five fingers are gathering for the first time in many years. The other three Defenders have Alexandra worried, and she wants help from her family to take them down. Murakami asks about Black Sky. Alexandra says she’s more powerful than he could ever imagine.

Later, Black Sky is in her weapons room when Sowande approaches her. He taunts her by telling her she’d be more effective if she’d kill her opponents. After her recent failure, he wonders if she’s a weapon at all. Black Sky answers him by promptly killing his two bodyguards with her bare hands.

The other fingers of the hand aren’t thrilled that Alexandra risked their immortality on Black Sky. They are testing her.

Alexandra dresses in a dark silver metallic evening gown, but is overcome with pain. She sends her attendants away and takes medication, then cancels her plans. We see her reflected in multiple mirrors. Reversal of fortune, the same way her reflection is reversed? Things aren’t what they seem? Lots of mirrors and metallic tones surrounding both Alexandra and Elektra this episode.

Jessica goes home and examines the historical documents she’s acquired that are related to her case. She realizes that the property deed has been signed by the same person, using a different name, many times, over two centuries.

Stick explains what he knows about the Hand. They are hundreds of years old, maybe millennia. They started in K’un-Lun, when the elders decided to learn to harness their chi to learn to heal.

There were five heretics who wanted to live forever, rather than just healing. The elders saw thus as heretical, and banished them from K’un-Lun. Alexandra has been the leader since the beginning. After they were banished, Each finger went back to their home country and ruled over their own domain, growing in power and influence. The fingers are Gao, Sowande, Bakuto, Murakami, and Alexandra.

Matt cuts off the conversation again, warning them to be careful to make sure they’re doing the right thing. Stick is a fanatic too, who might lead them astray. Then, before they know it, their loved ones will be dead and it will be their fault. They’ll have to live the rest of their lives knowing that they made it worse by getting involved. Projecting your survivors’ guilt much, Matt?

Jessica stops by her clients’ house to check in. The client tells her that there is a bodyguard sitting in front of the house. Jessica realizes that it’s the Hand. She drags the goon out of his car and forcefully questions him.

Luke and Danny manage to have a fun little conversation over wontons. They might even end up friends some day.

TD104Stick

Stick and Matt discuss Elektra. Stick is his usual cheery, optimistic self, and tells Matt that Elektra is nothing more than a golem, with something other than Elektra Natchios living inside it. Matt doesn’t believe Stick, because Matt still has a soul. He says Elektra hesitated, and didn’t kill him when she could have. She’s still in there.

Alexandra has slipped into the back of the restaurant unnoticed. She proceeds to work the group of men like the pro that she is. She’s changed out of her evening gown into a white outfit with a long animal skin vest. She’s ready to go hunting, maybe get her hands dirty.

Her main purpose is to convince Danny to join her side, but when she meets Luke, she looks like she wouldn’t be averse to adding a new boy toy into the mix as well. With Stick, she encourages his propensity for doom and gloom.

When she realizes that Danny won’t be convinced, Black Sky takes over, with a dramatic door busting entrance. But Jessica does her one better, and pushes a car through the front window of the restaurant into Black Sky, tossing her up onto the hood before she lands on the ground. Black Sky is pissed that Jessica made her look bad in front of her mother and her boyfriend. That won’t end well.

Jessica follows the car in and goes to stand with her fellow Defenders. And Stick.

Let the games begin. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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