Ricky Church reviews the fifth episode of Marvel’s The Defenders…
While ‘Royal Dragon’ offered a breather for viewers, ‘Take Shelter’ lived up to its name with The Defenders on the run and fighting for their lives. It continued the team’s bonding, once again showing off the chemistry between the four actors, and had a good balance of humour with the serious drama. It may not have been quite as strong as the previous episode, but ‘Take Shelter’ was still good nonetheless.
The fight scene at the top of the episode was entertaining with some nice choreography. It was easy to follow and utilized each of the heroes well with their skills. It displayed just how much The Hand outmatched them fairly well; even though one indestructible person, one really strong person and two very skilled martial artists (three if you count Stick) make up the team, The Hand is still quite formidable.
We also got a sense of what Matt’s arc will be for the rest of the series. Not only will he have to learn to work well with others, but he’ll be fighting to bring Elektra back to her true self. He’s already had to struggle with the urge to become Daredevil again, but adding his conflicted feelings for Elektra only serves to compound the anxiety he’s facing. It was also a subtle touch just how much more collected Matt was after he put on the Daredevil suit. He was no longer nervous, but cool and calm as he spoke with the others and helped come up with a plan.
Part of ‘Take Shelter’ was about getting inside the other character’s heads as well. Sowande, one of the leading members of The Hand they captured, tried using their biggest emotional baggage against them, from Jessica’s anxiety over being controlled again to Danny’s survivor’s guilt. It was interesting seeing their various weaknesses brought up in this way, though it also didn’t last too long. None of the team seemed overly bothered by what Sowande said, and even his time ran short as Stick killed him in the closing moments. Sowande’s death seemed a bit abrupt and a bit of a loss for The Defenders since he seemed like one of the more interesting members of The Hand thanks to Babs Olusanmokun’s acting. However, given that we are five episodes in now, I suppose it’s no real surprise the herd is being thinned at this point.
Another nice addition to the episode was seeing all the side character from the Netflix shows come together in one room, from Misty Knight to Karen Paige to Trish Walker. Jessica Henwick in particular stood out as Colleen Wing got a fair amount more development than what she received in most of Iron Fist, having been confronted by the fact she was a willing member of The Hand (even if she was manipulated by Bakuto about their true intentions) and questioned her worth. Her scene with Rosario Dawson brought a good amount of depth to her character that has been lacking in the past.
One slight negative to The Defenders overall though is the fact that we’re at the halfway point yet no closer to knowing what The Hand truly wants. The end of the episode confirms they’re after Danny and his power for some reason, but we also already knew that from ‘Worst Behavior‘, when Danny confronted Alexandra for the first time. This episode has several good character moments, yet its very light on story now that the team is together, dropping most of the mystery elements that Defenders started off with.