The Hero of Harlem comes face to face with the Iron Fist of K'un-Lun
Credit: Sarah Shatz/Netflix

The Defenders’ series premiere ended with a bang, and here, we pick up right where it left off. Despite his retirement from being Daredevil, Matt can’t help but overhear the chaos outside engendered by the sudden earthquake. It’s not enough to get him to don the costume again, but Matt does got out and fight some crime in a suit.

The next morning, New York residents have more questions than answers about the earthquake. Trish talks to a geologist on her radio show who says that the earthquake was only 300 feet deep rather than three miles, which sounds weird — but before Trish can ask any more, the call is cut off by her bosses and she’s ordered to move to the next topic. That’s not suspicious at all.

What IS suspicious, however, is finding a stash of explosives in an empty apartment. Jessica Jones was smart enough to call in the cops, which makes this her first encounter with fellow ex-Luke Cage lover Misty Knight. Jessica doesn’t linger long, but before she leaves Misty spots her take a piece of evidence with her.

Colleen Wing tries to get Danny Rand to cheer up, telling him that the man they saw die fighting the Hand in Cambodia proves that they’re not alone in this fight. Now that they’re back in New York, maybe they’ll find allies here. Indeed there are some, and they’re busy actually helping people. Up in Harlem, Luke is lifting debris out of the road and helping with clean-up while Claire (Rosario Dawson) administers some first aid to people in the neighborhood.

While our heroes are helping people, our villain is busy wallowing in luxury. Thanks to her many gracious donations, Alexandra is currently being treated to a private philharmonic concert. While talking to the conductor, she suddenly provides some personal knowledge about the rivalry between Beethoven and Brahms. She might be dying now, but it sure seems like Alexandra’s lived a pretty extensive life. If not immortal, she seems pretty old — so why is she vulnerable now? We’ll have to wait a bit for answers there, but Gao does stop by to address a different mystery. The Hand’s forces may have killed the elders of K’un-Lun, but the city itself is still blocked by some kind of wall filled with inscriptions. Alexandra is smart enough to realize that this is not a wall but a door, and to get in they just need the key. Given everything they and we know about the mythology at work here, it seems pretty likely that Danny’s iron fist is the key to unlocking it.

On the less mystical side of things, both Matt and Jessica touch in with their respective lawyer friends. Foggy notices the bruises on Matt’s knuckles and instantly knows he’s been out and about again. He offers to help, but while it’s nice for the two friends to reconnect, they’re still not quite on the same page. Jessica and Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) are never on the same page, obviously, but nevertheless, the latter tries to protect her former employee by telling her to stay away from the Raymond case. Later, the two lawyers themselves meet up, and Hogarth asks Foggy to watch Jessica’s back for her. The pieces are moving closer together… (Recap continues on page 2)

Cage is looking for answers about who’s recruiting Harlem kids like Cole for mysterious late-night work. After intimidating an old contact, he learns the culprit is a new player on the scene. Not much is known about this mysterious manipulator except for his distinctive outfit. Because of his white suit, panama hat, and alligator shoes, everyone calls this guy “Whitehead.”

It turns out, he’s not hard to find. That white suit really sticks out, especially at night. While observing him, Luke calls Misty to file a warrant, but while he’s still on the phone with her, he sees Cole among Whitehead’s group and hangs up to deal with it himself.

He’s not the only one trying to fight an unknown enemy by himself. When Jessica arrives back at her apartment that doubles as her office (#millennial), she finds John Raymond himself holding Malcolm at gunpoint. Apparently, he was really serious about her not following him. Jessica tries to talk him down, but that doesn’t really work once Elektra bursts in. This resurrected ninja is more than a match for even Jessica’s super strength, but she doesn’t end up getting her prize. Raymond tells her, “You can’t have this,” and shoots himself in the head. Elektra vanishes, and when Jessica runs outside in pursuit, she ends up face to face with none other than Misty – who’s still pretty pissed about the vigilante stealing evidence earlier.

As part of Whitehead’s gang, Cole is sent to destroy a building full of dead bodies and a bloody K’un-Lun banner — exactly where Danny and Colleen happen to be at the moment. The two warriors start fighting the gas mask-clad gang. Danny ends up attacking Cole, at which point Luke intervenes and we get our first face-to-face meeting between Defenders. In true Marvel style, these two should-be allies immediately end up fighting.

As if in deliberate parody of Iron Fist’s much-mocked fight choreography, this encounter mostly features Danny flailing around with little effect on Cage’s unbreakable skin. Danny sends repeated blows against Cage, only to get decked by one strong punch. That leads him to activate his iron fist, which results in maybe the weirdest slow-motion superhero scene since Brandon Routh’s Superman deflected a bullet with his eyeball. Upon making contact with the iron fist, Cage’s face ripples and he finally goes flying.

Don’t worry — that’s not the only Defenders meet-up for this episode. After being arrested by Misty, Jessica sits in an interrogation room. Soon enough, her lawyer shows up – and it’s none other than Matt Murdock. The face Jessica makes at him should be enshrined in the pantheon of all-time best reaction looks.

Now it’s time to really get started.

Most Valuable Defender: Luke Cage, for sticking up for vulnerable kids AND making Danny Rand look like an absolute fool in that fight

The Bulletin:

  • The Hand seems ruthlessly effective about eliminating their enemies right now — both K’un-Lun and the Chaste have been wiped out and scattered to the winds. Stick (Scott Glenn) still lives, however — the Marvel Netflix equivalent of Nick Fury is now in Alexandra’s custody.
  • I’m dying for answers about Alexandra’s immortality (or not), but Sigourney Weaver’s performance is so alluringly enigmatic that I’m fine waiting for more.
  • Man this eight-episode season is great, huh? If The Defenders were the same length as the previous Marvel Netflix shows, we’d probably still be two or three episodes away from everyone meeting.
  • Without spoiling anything, episode 3 is where things really start to pop off. Back to you, Chancellor.

Episode Recaps

Marvel's The Defenders
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