Ricky Church reviews the fourth episode of Marvel’s The Defenders…
‘Royal Dragon’ has so far been the best episode of The Defenders for highlighting the differences and similarities between the team members. It really showed off the chemistry that exists between the four principal actors, offering a bit more of an introspective episode that still remained tense as the ragtag team sought safety.
The writing was very strong throughout the episode. Each of the characters made some valid points in their arguments, from why Jessica or Matt needed to leave before things got even more dangerous or why it was important they all stick together. More importantly though, ‘Royal Dragon’s writing elevated the relationships between the characters and quickly summed up what they knew about The Hand. There was no dodging around specifics as everything was laid out on the table. Or almost everything, at least.
Matt was still shaken up about discovering Elektra alive and apparently healthy, but neglected to tell the group he knew her, and Charlie Cox conveyed that well. He really showed how dismayed he was at the whole situation, not just at Elektra’s revival but how seriously they should treat The Hand. We’ve come to know Matt as the Man Without Fear for two seasons now, so to see him this worried was a move well played by Cox. He also impressed in his bonding moments with the others, showing how easily he can swing from anxiety to being social and still make it believable.
Krysten Ritter also shined as Jessica Jones. One aspect that was good about ‘Royal Dragon’ was how it didn’t make it easy for the group to come together or even believe everything they heard about The Hand. Jessica was the most reluctant to get involved, seeing it as way above her head. Her mini-arc to fully joining the fight was good as she realized that, try as she might, she just can’t turn away from helping people.
Mike Colter and Finn Jones were also good, with the latter giving a strong performance as Danny. Its incredible the difference in Jones’ acting between Iron Fist and The Defenders. He seems much more at ease here and his childlike nature isn’t quite as annoying (or obnoxious). Scott Glenn similarly impresses as Stick, though he seems a little less edgier than he did in Daredevil (I also forgot to mention in my last review how cool his escape was). Sigourney Weaver, though, again steals the show as Alexandra. Her scene with the Defenders was a highlight. She gave off a very menacing presence despite the fact she was calm and collected.
‘Royal Dragon’ was the strongest episode yet thanks to the bonding moments between the heroes, from Danny trying to convince everyone to work together to Luke and Jessica reconnecting to Matt’s fear for his loved ones. The choice to make this half a bottle episode by taking place within the restaurant was an interesting and smart choice, forcing the characters to come together.