The Defenders Season 1 Analysis and a Bit of Speculation

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Disclaimers: We can’t speculate much about the next Defenders season, since the continuation of this season’s storylines will be picked up in the individual series’ seasons that will be released long before we get season 2 of The Defenders. So my speculation is about where the story might go for individual characters or organizations, regardless of which show in the Netflix Marvel Universe they might be appearing on at the time. Also, there are a few previously published spoilers sprinkled throughout this post, such as casting news for the various shows. Spoilers are marked [Spoilers].


Characters & Relationships

I enjoyed The Defenders and its focus on the characters. The interplay between the various Defenders was fun, interesting and deepened each character. The interactions between the Defenders and the members of the Hand and other side characters also gave us some entertaining moments, and challenged the characters. Gao and Hogarth, in particular, are played by incredible, talented women, are well-written, and generally provide a challenge to whoever is on screen with them. The addition of Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra was genius, and it’s sad, in a way, that she seems to be definitively dead, so we can’t see more of her. It was also entertaining to watch the supporting casts from each show come together and play with each other.

But the Defenders themselves are the main attraction, and they deserve the attention. Watching Danny and Luke develop from two alpha males who didn’t like each other and stood in their corners snarling, to a big and little brother camaraderie and respect was tons of fun. Seeing the two damaged, suspicious orphans, Jessica and Matt, slowly let down their guard enough to trust each other and discover their matching sarcastic senses of humor was also good fun.

[Spoiler: Danny will be visiting Luke, Claire, and Misty on Luke Cage, season 2, so the bromance will continue. Maybe we’ll get a chance to see Danny supervise Misty’s fitting and rehab with her new cybernetic arm.)

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The Defenders Season 1 Episode 8: The Defenders Recap

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And They All Fall Down

The Defenders come together as a united team in this episode, for an epic fight to save NYC from destruction by the Hand. Previous to that, Luke, Matt, and Jessica seem to sincerely want to save Danny because they care about him for himself, not just because the Hand having the Fist is a very bad idea.

But, most importantly, this is a Winter Soldier parallel, and those helicarriers have to come down. that building has to come down. We can’t let HYDRA the Hand succeed with its ultimate evil plan to take over the world live forever and take over the world.

First, we need to convince Luke that the architect was right, and we should use his C4 and plans to collapse the building. Sweet Sister, Luke’s not okay with violence unless he’s instigating it! His trusted women, Claire and Jessica, make good points in the argument; enough so that he reluctantly gives in. Jessica, in particular, wants the Hand to be stopped permanently. She still has the architect’s brains all over her apartment and once is enough with a rude enemy like that.

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The Defenders Season 1 Episode 7: Fish in the Jailhouse Recap

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In the penultimate episode of the season, we’re reminded why Danny is the Iron Fist instead of the Iron Brain, Elektra proves that the Black Sky is more than just a killing machine with a pretty face, and Foggy shows that he’s the best best friend a guy could want. Some of the color returns to the screen as the 3 remaining Defenders rally to find Danny and stop the Hand.

The cold open reminds us that Elektra and Matt met because, years ago, Stick sent her as an undercover operative to recruit Matt to the Chaste. Stick was ruthless in his criticism of both of his surrogate children when Elektra failed. He couldn’t tolerate weakness or hesitation in anyone.

In the present day, we see red and blue police lights flashing over the scene where Stick’s body lies, presumably dead, and Matt, Jessica, and Luke lie unconscious.

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The Defenders Season 1 Episode 6: Ashes, Ashes Recap

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This episode continues the color desaturation begun in episode 5, as the Defenders begin to question each others’ loyalty again. Their animosity is sparked by the chaotic, homicidal influence of Stick, who has to be the worst army leader in the history of armies.

If there is a theme to this episode, it’s best summed up by the famous Vietnam War quote (which is often misstated), “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” Everyone runs around destroying or threatening to destroy whatever they’re sworn to protect, all in the name of some perceived greater good.

Alexandra sits alone and listens to classical music on a gramophone. The needle begins skipping, repeating the same few seconds over and over until Alexandra lifts the needle up to stop the play. The record and the gramophone are old, damaged, stuck, and nearly obsolete, just like Alexandra.

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The Defenders Season 1 Episode 5: Take Shelter Recap

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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?

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Iron Fist Season 1 Speculation and Analysis

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The first time I watched through the entire season of Iron Fist, I thought the second half of the season was not as good as the first half. The second time around I realized that the show became better and better as the season went on, as they warmed up to poking fun at themselves, the genre, and the stereotypes of our culture, sometimes to the point of parody. It seems some people agree with me, since the show ended up being popular on Netflix. Good to know that there’s room for lighter MCU fare on TV in addition to Agents of SHIELD.

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Iron Fist Season 1 Episode 13: Dragon Plays with Fire Recap

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The episode’s cold open finds Harold all dressed up and straightening his tie in the glass that separates him from his plants/Eden, as he stands in front of his glass coffin. He’s about to get out of purgatory. But we see a painting of Eve grasping the apple in the background, so this probably isn’t going to go the way he hopes it will.

As Harold moves to the next room, the news tells us that Danny is still on the run and is at the top of the most wanted list. Harold whistles a happy tune as he packs his briefcase and drives himself to the Rand building.

Ward is consulting with Jeri Hogarth about Danny when Harold arrives. Jeri is only thrown for a moment then jumps to recounting the legal ramifications of faking one’s death. Harold dismisses her with a comment about her looks. As if we didn’t have enough reasons to hate him. Trinity has aged quite well, Faramir. Take a look in the mirror.

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Iron Fist Season 1 Episode 10: Black Tiger Steals Heart Recap

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When we left Danny last episode, he had passed out and was being whisked away to an unknown destination by Bakuto and Colleen. This episode begins with Danny waking up naked, in bed with Colleen, also naked, in an all-white room. He doesn’t remember how or why he’s there, so Colleen explains that it’s her home, and the safest place she knows. It all seems innocent, but there’s something off in the way she doesn’t quite answer his question.

Joy and Harold are having a long talk about their history. She understands why Ward is the way he is, now that she knows the enormous secret he’s been burdened with for years. Harold is already being wheedling and manipulative with her. The room is more brightly lit than usual, but all of the stark light is coming from the windows, leaving everything half in shadow. There is no true honesty here.

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Iron Fist Season 1 Episode 9: The Mistress of All Agonies Recap

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For our episode 9 cold open, we’re back at Harold’s favorite body-dumping ground, which he passed down to Ward, like any good father would. It’s been approximately three days since Ward used the swamp to get rid of Harold’s body, after Ward’s murderous but character-defining moment of both insanity and defiance. Sure enough, Harold pops up out of the muck like the God he thinks he is, with the knife that killed him still in his side. He drags himself out of the primordial ooze and turns his face up to the heavens to revel in the next stage of his evolution.

David Wenham is having a fantastic time hamming it up as Harold.

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Iron Fist Season 1 Episode 8: The Blessing of Many Fractures Recap

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Ward sinks further into his drug and alcohol fueled delusions and depression this episode, despite being rid of Harold, while Joy starts to come into her own, even though she didn’t know that Harold has been pulling the strings all along. Danny becomes more obsessed with Madame Gao and revenge, though he pretends his investigation is about the current synthetic heroin trade.

Danny starts the episode by warning his friends about the Hand. He stops by Harold’s apartment, but, of course Harold is gone. All that’s left is a giant smear of blood across the floor, left from Ward dragging the body out. Before Danny can react much, Ward comes in with a bag of cleaning supplies. Because he’s Danny, and he’s the Iron Fist, not the Iron Brain, he doesn’t put the cleaning supplies and the giant freakin’ blood stain together as clues. Instead, he blames himself for getting Harold killed by the Hand and tells that to Ward. Thanks to Harold, Ward is becoming a pro at looking sick and shocked. He pulls that look up again on cue. With a straight face, he blames Danny for making him grieve his father’s death twice. (Pretty sure Harold’s second death was the second best day of Ward’s life.) Since Danny is the most trusting and naive person on the earth, of course he believes Ward, even when Ward drives him out of the apartment with insults. Ward then gets down to his cleaning. I can almost hear him whistling while he works.

Danny’s at least smart enough to take Gao’s laptop with him.

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