We gave it a C+
When The Defenders premiered, we all hoped that the show’s eight-episode order would lead to tighter storytelling, something even the best Marvel Netflix shows have lacked. All of them usually ran out of story in the second half of the season and had to stall as they waited for the inevitable final boss battle. Unfortunately, The Defenders has fallen into this trap too with “Fish in the Jailhouse,” an episode that’s thin on plot and puts the show in a holding pattern until the big finale.
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The episode begins with a flashback to Elektra meeting with Stick “some time ago.” From their conversation, we know it’s from around the time when Elektra first approached Matt. She tells Stick that it’ll be impossible to convince Matt to kill, even for the Chaste. This is not what Stick wants to hear, because he truly believes they need Matt. Elektra wonders if there’s a way to win the war without so much death, but Stick says they need to prepare for even more of it. Honestly, this flashback is rather unnecessary. When we pick back up with Elektra in the present day, she tells her Hand-mates that she really doesn’t care about the organization. All she wants is the Substance. Killing Stick and Alexandra was about Elektra becoming the master of her own destiny, and acquiring the Substance will help accomplish that.
Meanwhile, the Defenders are busy licking their wounds at the police station since the cops picked them up after Elektra KO’d them at the end of the last episode. Things aren’t looking good, because the cops found two bodies with them in the warehouse. Misty tries to help as best she can, but the Defenders aren’t giving her anything to work with, which frustrates her and her captain.
Matt asks for a moment alone to speak to Jessica and Luke, but before that happens, Karen pulls him aside for a chat. She thinks diving back into this crazy world means he’s throwing away all the work he put into rebuilding his life. But that’s just it, he says: “This is my life.” This might be Matt’s strongest character moment in The Defenders so far. He has finally embraced the side of himself that he was trying to keep at bay in the season premiere. For such an important moment, it does feel rather underplayed in the episode.
Colleen and Claire use this downtime to discuss heroism. Claire doesn’t understand how she ended up here since she tried to avoid people with powers, but Colleen points out that she doesn’t seem like the sort of person who could ever just stand on the sidelines and watch. It’s nice that the writers are using this opportunity to acknowledge that Claire is also one of the heroes of this universe, because she does quite a bit. Colleen, on the other hand, is worried about Danny, because she knows that he too is just a boy looking for a family and almost found it with Luke, Matt, and Jessica.
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