Could Brahms Beat Up Beethoven?: The Defenders Season 1 Episode 2 “Mean Right Hook” (Netflix)
The Defenders Season 1 Episode 2 “Mean Right Hook” (Netflix)
Lots of people read my review of Iron Fist (and I am a fan of the rest of the MCU Netflix Universe) so I decided I would give writing about The Defenders and see how it went (if it goes well, I will probably write about The Punisher, Jessica Jones Season 2, and all the other Netflix MCU shows).
If you haven't watched The Defenders Season 1 Episode 2 "Mean Right Hook" yet (or are uncomfortable hearing information from all of the other Marvel shows on Netflix) quit reading now * Spoiler Alert *
“Are These Necessary?”
Jessica helped the police find the explosives, but not Mr. Ramond. She is, however, on the case, she goes to city hall and starts to connect the dots between a bunch of holding companies who have owned properties over hundreds of years but whose owner seems to have the exact same signature as all the others.
Earlier in the episode, Jessica's friend Trish has the "powers that be" cut off discussion of the earthquake on her radio show just as a geologist was about explain how what happened in NYC the night before could not have been an earthquake. Lots of uncovered conspiracies all building in the same direction.
Hogarth “accidentally” runs into her and heavily suggests that Jessica drop the case. The odd thing about this is that having been Jessica’s boss, Hogarth (as much as anyone) should know that pushing Jessica NOT to do something is by far the best way to ensure that she does what you say you don’t want her to do (so maybe all of this intentional).
Jessica eventually returns to her office where Raymond is holding her office buddy Malcolm hostage. Just as she is starting to get the picture that Ramond wasn’t trying to plant explosives as much as he was trying to keep explosives away from whomever he was working for (he says all the usual, I can’t say anything or they will hurt me and my family type stuff) the “mystery ninja” woman shows up and Ramond ends up getting killed.
Jessica tries to chase after the “mystery ninja” woman (if you haven’t figured it out already, I won’t ruin it for you) and just as she hits the bricks outside of her building she runs right into to Misty Knight who takes her in for questioning.
“Who Are You?” (I Really Want to Know)
Matt Murdock is facing separation anxiety from his alter-ego Daredevil and the appearance of calm is starting to fade into a passive aggressive crime-fighting violent streak. The “Mean Left Hook” episode starts off with Murdock jumping into action (still in his civilian clothing) stopping a criminal from trying to harshly impose justice on some younger criminals trying to steal from him.
After he stops cruel justice from being enforced he seems to take a bit too much pleasure in pounding the face of the miscreant he stopped.
This is a very Daredevil-lite episode and we only get three other scenes with Murdock:
1. Murdock stares longingly at his Daredevil suit (after he unlocks the chest where he has stored it).
2. Murdock meets with Foggy to be offered a bunch of busywork cases (Foggy assumes it will help keep Murdock from becoming absorbed in his alter-ego.
Also Foggy meets with his boss Hogarth, who seems very concerned that former employee Jessica Jones is digging into the Ramond case. Hogarth asks Foggy to discreetly watch Jones and to get involved if she gets into any legal problems. She also lets him know that it is not a question of if Jessica will get into trouble but rather when she will get into trouble.
3. Later, Hogarth’s prediction comes true and as Jessica sits handcuffed in an interrogation cell being questioned by Misty Knight, Matt walks in and tells Jessica to stop talking and that he is her attorney. So, presumptively, Foggy sent Matt to handle his “Jessica Jones” problem for him (so that the firm is not directly implicated and the potential damage is contained).
Way too little Daredevil in my Opinion.
The Trouble In Paradise
Luke is helping clean up the damage in Harlem after the “earthquake” and after he finishes he starts walking down the street and talking with Claire. We learn that Luke has decided to start fighting crime again, that he won’t be getting paid for it, and that if he wants to find the crime bosses that he will need to go to a club called, “Trouble In Paradise.”
So, he goes to Trouble in Paradise and finds an old “friend” who he braces and finds out that the crime in the area is being run by a guy named “White Hat.” Luke tracks “White Hat” down and calls Misty to come with arrest warrants but then changes his mind after he sees the kid he is supposed to be protecting.
“White Hat” was dressed very Blaxploitation Era “Pimp” style, I am not sure if this is the Luke Cage writers re-appropriating exploitation tropes or Luke Cage writers enthusiastically embracing exploitation (I hope it is the former more than the latter).
“This Isn’t About Anger, This is About A Fact”
Yup, that is the high-level wooden dialog we get from Danny Rand (sigh).
I guess, on the good side, it could either become a form of appreciable but unintentional comedy? Or maybe the writers will start utilizing it to make Iron Fist more purposefully a personality bumbling fail (like The Tick?)
Anyway, Colleen finds Danny meditating on the floor of his apartment and suggests that the sword that they encountered in Cambodia was very rare and might be a clue. She then reveals that this very rare sword, of which there are only like 16 in the world, just happens to be available from a sword maker in New York City (plausible?).
They decide to go on a mission to investigate the sword maker and find nothing but a bunch of dead bodies which Danny immediately attributes to The Hand (despite having done zero investigation). Eventually, they hear voices and hide. A bunch of people wearing biohazard suits come in and start cleaning up the bodies (with some kind of spray).
Colleen and Danny jump out and start kicking the stuffing out of the cleaning crew (who are not fighters). One of them starts to escape and Danny runs him down and starts questioning him by applying the threat of extreme violence to him in an alley outside the sword makers tenement building (making extremely rare swords apparently does not pay any better than cleaning up dead bodies).
Once Danny removes the biohazard mask from the kid it turns out to be the kid Luke Cage was trying to save (and we now know that the kids in Harlem are being hired to clean up whatever messes The Hand leaves around NYC).
Just as Danny is about to punch the kid in the face, all of a sudden Luke Cage comes out of nowhere to grab his hand and proceeds to truly deliver a beating to Danny Rand. Danny tries every martial arts trick he knows and still gets totally pulverized by Luke.
Finally, Danny uses the Iron Fist and it knocks Luke across the alley, but he almost immediately gets right back up just as the police arrive. Luke and Danny get away and the kid gets arrested. For what the kid is being arrested is not entirely clear (I guess cleaning up a bunch of dead bodies probably does implicate you, but no police officer had even entered the building at the time - PROFILING or Bad Editing?).
About that fight, pretty cool to watch, but what good is training your entire life and having a power that allows you to call yourself The Immortal Iron Fist if you can’t even faze a guy who got his powers from a failed experiment by a prison doctor? I have been to prison, and the doctors were terrible. I remain, as ever, unimpressed by Iron Fist.
The MCU Wiki said that the “Mean Right Hook” was enough to “injure” Cage, but I saw no evidence he was injured (just momentarily stunned).
Anyway, this fight was probably the highlight of episode 2.
One other problem, last week I talked about how great it would be if the Iron Fist character was minimized on the show. Unfortunately, Iron Fist appears to be right at the center of the plot.
Alexandra has a great scene where, after a private performance by members of the Philharmonic, she explains to the director that Brahms was trolling Beethoven with one of his pieces (suggesting that she was alive and knew Brahms at the time). After this discussion, Madame Gao shows up and tells Alexandra that their path (to wherever they are trying to go underground) has been blocked by a wall.
Alexandra tells Madame Gao that it is not a wall but a lock and suggests that the key is probably Iron Fist. Oh, and she also has Stick chained to a pipe in one of the never-ending basements that seem to populate the particular New York City inhabited by The Defenders and The Hand.
So, Iron Fist (sadly), is right in the middle of the action and will be a critical player going forward (sigh). On the good side, at least the four future members of The Defenders have now connected with other members finally (across a table or fist to jaw).
Not entirely a bad episode, it was a bit slow compared to the first episode but they have to get a BUNCH of story set-up before this can start making sense. I still think Sigourney Weaver is the best part of the show to date
Hopefully, next week’s episode will start to connect the dots better. See you next week!