Ricky Church reviews the season one finale of Marvel’s The Defenders…
The Defenders comes to an end with the appropriately titled ‘The Defenders’ as the group makes one last-ditch attempt to stop The Hand and save New York City. While the series’ conclusion wasn’t as strong as it’s beginning, ‘The Defenders’ was still a good send off for the heroes and left them all in interesting places to pick up in their own individual series.
The best aspect about the finale was how we got to see the group work together as a unit, using their combined skills to take out The Hand. I bemoaned the fight sequences in the previous episode, ‘Fish in the Jailhouse’, and while the choreography still isn’t as great as it was earlier in the season, it was much improved over the last entry.
It flowed pretty well and you had a good enough sense of who was doing what, also giving us a brief one take shot as the camera followed the movements of the four Defenders. My main criticism of the fight, however, was that it took place in a pretty dark setting that was barely lit, making it a little difficult in some shots to see what was going on.
Even Colleen, Claire and Misty got to fight a bit as they took on Bakuto, with Colleen finally moving past her former master/mentor. It was also surprising how Bakuto chopped Misty’s arm off, utilizing her injury in the comics. Luke Cage had referenced this when Misty got shot in the same arm and said how it was almost amputated, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon and in The Defenders no less. Simone Missick and Jessica Henwick also shared some good chemistry together, making an unlikely pair. It’s a bit of a shame they didn’t have more scenes together throughout the season.
This episode also took a fairly large step forward into the more mystical elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was inevitable with The Defenders and the connection to the MCU, but the Netflix shows have always remained fairly grounded compared to the feature films, at least until Iron Fist. The fact that the finale’s setting took place hundreds of feet below ground in the skeleton of a dragon was surprising, but it was also humourous that all the characters (with the exception of Danny) thought it pretty insane.
The character’s journeys evolved nicely, closing out their individual arcs from the start as they’ve all found a measure of acceptance. Jessica is back at work, Luke has re-dedicated himself to Harlem and Danny has matured a bit and finally recognizes New York as home while cementing their relationships. There were a couple odd bits, such as Jessica and Luke flirting and recalling their hook-ups in Jessica Jones during the fight (isn’t he with Claire now?), but it ended with them fully reconciling and the possibility of getting back together, echoing their romance in the comics.
Of course, the big change is the apparent death of Daredevil. I wouldn’t say Matt’s final confrontation with Elektra was emotional as I never really bought into their relationship or felt Charlie Cox and Elodie Yung had good chemistry with each other, though I will give credit to Cox for giving his all during their fight. He brought his A-game to the scene as he pled with Elektra to stop being The Black Sky and just be with him. His ‘sacrifice’ really cemented his role in The Defenders since they were all shaken up over his apparent demise, signifying his own arc as he was pretty resistant to working with anyone, let alone being Daredevil again.
His is perhaps the most interesting ending of all as everyone believes him dead, but he’s recuperating in a hospital. With Daredevil season 3 coming early next year, it seems like the famous and much-loved ‘Born Again’ will be a huge influence on the show.
Overall, The Defenders finale was a good one, though didn’t quite measure up to the earlier episodes. The final fight was much better, though the villains and story were still a little spotty, but the acting from Cox, Ritter, Colter and even Jones made up for their shortcomings. The four of them really had some great chemistry and I can’t stress enough the difference between Jones from Iron Fist and even earlier in Defenders to now. It still had a few issues, but The Defenders was a worthy send off for this crossover series.