Sarah Shatz/Netflix
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August 18, 2017 at 08:00 AM EDT

Marvel's The Defenders

type
TV Show
genre
Action, Crime
run date
08/18/17
performer
Mike Colter, Krysten Ritter, Charlie Cox, Finn Jones
broadcaster
Netflix
seasons
1
Current Status
In Season
We gave it a B

It turns out Matt is a pretty good lawyer now that he’s not distracted by his nighttime job. Here, we see Matt win a big case against a pharmaceutical company whose drug paralyzed a young boy. (Director S.J. Clarkson adds more excitement to the courtroom scene by dramatically sweeping around Matt in a vicious cross-examination.)

After the triumph, Matt runs into Karen (Deborah Ann Woll), who is living her best life as a reporter. Their conversation is fairly timid, which lets us know that they haven’t spoken much since Matt came clean to her about his secret identity. Matt tells her he thinks the city is better off without Daredevil, which is definitely a lie. In fact, Matt confirms that he misses being Daredevil when he heads to confession later in the episode. As he talks to his priest, we only ever see half of his face, which effectively conveys that he’s currently suppressing part of himself.

After checking in with the Defenders, it’s finally time to meet their foe: Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra, the enigmatic and stoic leader of The Hand. Unfortunately, Alexandra isn’t long for this world. A doctor informs our heavy-fabric-wearing villain that she only has months, likely weeks, left to live; her organs are failing. This terrible prognosis doesn’t elicit much of a reaction.

However, Alexandra doesn’t plan on going out without a bang. She orders Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) to speed up the timetable on The Hand’s Big Evil Plan. Gao is worried that their deliberately paced plan will draw too much attention, but Alexandra doesn’t care; she’s not leaving this world before she’s done destroying New York…or something. It’s not clear what the plan is, but we do know Alexandra hates New York, so the city’s destruction probably figures into it.

While Luke tries and fails to make a connection with Cole (J. Mallory McCree), the dead courier’s brother, Jessica makes some headway in her investigation. A woman named Michelle has hired her to look into her missing husband, and with Malcolm’s (Eka Darville) help, Jessica manages to track Michelle’s husband to a dilapidated building in Hell’s Kitchen. (FACT: In Marvel’s conception of New York, every non-corporate building has flickering lights.) When she enters the apartment he was renting, she finds tons of demolition explosives. What the hell has Jessica stumbled into?

There isn’t much time to dwell on that startling revelation because Manhattan is suddenly hit with an earthquake. And all of the Defenders — including Danny, who just landed in the city via helicopter — feel it. Clarkson sweeps the camera around Matt yet again as his senses are bombarded with sirens and screams for help, and flashing blue lights intrude on his red-tinged scenes, adding to the sense of chaos and confusion. Hopefully, Cole was wrong when he told Luke it was too late for heroes, because this earthquake is definitely a call to action. Will the Defenders respond?

Not much really happened until the final moments of this premiere, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying getting reacquainted with the heroes at the center of this tale. The episode seamlessly moved between the Defenders’ fairly isolated story lines, and I only felt myself taken out of the action when we checked in on Iron Fist, whose scenes are incredibly bland. It’s even more apparent that he’s the weakest link of the group when he’s up against everyone else. So far, Charlie Cox has only been asked to do a bit of brooding, leaving Ritter and Colter to run away with the episode. They each exude confidence in their roles; their stage presence is powerful, and they do a good job of grounding the show. All in all, I’m excited to see where The Defenders goes.

Most Valuable Defender: Jessica Jones, by a mile

The Bulletin:

  • Here’s what’s been going on in Harlem since Luke Cage ended: Misty Knight got promoted to the City-Wide Task Force, a good way to explain how she gets involved with this season’s plot; and Mariah is up to the same business as when we last saw her.
  • “Hero’s your word, not mine,” Luke says to Cole in response to Cole’s claim that “it’s too late for heroes.”
  • “No one can you give your life back. You have to take it back,” says Matt to the kid he was representing. This on-the-nose dialogue applies to Matt, Jessica, and Luke, all of whom, again, are trying to move beyond their pasts.
  • Elektra returns to Alexandra’s side at the end of the episode, so we definitely know whose side she’s on.
  • Finally: Welcome to EW’s recaps of Marvel’s The Defenders! My colleague Christian Holub and I will be your guides through this eight-episode miniseries, so don’t miss his take on episode 2.
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