We gave it a B
So here we go — the big finale! Thanks for reading along with us this season. The final chapter of Marvel’s super Netflix show has a lot of blood and explosions, but it also leaves quite a few questions unanswered. Here’s the rundown.
The heroes are still debating whether it’s okay to blow up Midland Circle. I’m not really sure what the problem is with blowing up an empty building that was only used by an oppressive evil shadow organization anyway, but Luke seems to think it’s bad somehow. Luckily, they convince him to get on board, so the three people with abilities head down to find Danny while Colleen and Claire plant the explosives. Matt quickly uses his abilities to find a secret elevator in the walls, which they use to descend into the big hole we’ve been waiting a year to have explained.
So here is the explanation for what’s at the bottom of the Midland Circle hole: It’s a dragon skeleton. As showrunner Marco Ramirez tells EW’s Shirley Li, this is not the skeleton of Shou-Lao the Undying, whose heart Danny ripped out to gain the iron fist. This is another dragon — the last known dragon fossil left on Earth, according to Gao. It is the source of the Substance that keeps the Hand alive, the drugs they’ve been selling on the streets, and the structural instability that has been rocking the Defenders’ New York. The giant dragon ribcage does make a good set piece for this final confrontation; I especially like it because it reminds me one of my favorite modern fantasy novels, China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station, which is set in a city whose defining landmark is also a giant ribcage left over from some dead ancient monster.
Not all the Hand is down there in the dragon bones, however. Bakuto arrives on the surface to stop Colleen and Claire, which makes sense since it would be unfair if his final fight were against anyone other than Colleen. Unfortunately, his arrival interrupts a fun conversation in which Colleen tells Claire she’s saved just as many lives as the superpowered Defenders and deserves to make headlines alongside them. She’s right! I would gladly give up The Punisher, Iron Fist season 2, and probably Daredevil season 3 in exchange for a Night Nurse solo series. How great would that be? Rosario Dawson has saved many of these shows from ruin (especially Iron Fist), so she more than deserves her own spotlight. Honestly, going forward, they should replace Danny with her in the Defenders lineup, especially since much of Danny’s story appears to get resolved here.
The Defenders realize they’re walking into a trap of sorts, so they come up with a plan on their way down. When the elevator arrives, greeted by Elektra and a whole party of Hand ninjas, only Jessica walks out at first. She complains to Elektra, “Ever since you burst into my office, my life has become one big kung-fu party,” and then Matt and Luke leap out of hiding to really kick off that big kung-fu party.
They may not get the cool backdrop of a dragon skeleton, but at least Colleen and Bakuto’s fight feels like a Star Wars lightsaber fight thanks to the empty industrial surroundings. The biggest disappointment for me is that this show had been doing such a good job at avoiding the typical Netflix show pitfall of making every scene incredibly dark for no reason. We had two whole episodes set mostly in a well-lit Chinese restaurant! But now everybody’s grappling at each other in the dark. Sigh.
The Defenders takes a big cue from Luke Cage here and blasts Wu-Tang Clan’s “Protect Ya Neck” while the heroes battle the Hand’s forces. If the producers had used hip-hop music like this more consistently over the course of the series, it would probably feel more natural, but it nevertheless injects some much-needed energy into this fight in the underground darkness. Gao tries her big Force-push again, but this time Danny meets her with the iron fist, and everybody goes flying. I don’t know what it is about Murakami, but for some reason he’s become the Hand member I most want to see punched in the face, so it’s great to see Cage wreck Murakami’s whole life by bending his blade into a knot and then sending him flying through a pillar. (Recap continues on page 2)