I Have A Nightmare: The Defenders Season 1 Episode 1 "The H Word" (Netflix)
The Defenders Season 1 Episode 1: "The H Word"
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 1 "The H Word" yet (or are uncomfortable hearing information from all of the other Marvel shows on Netflix) quit reading now * Spoiler Alert *
“It’s In New York City”
I am very hopeful, given that four heroes and a bunch of secondary characters have to be worked into this miniseries, that the character that will benefit the most from less time on screen will be Iron Fist (by far my least favorite of the characters in The Defenders).
The entire series starts with a sword fight in Cambodia between a person we have never seen before and a ninja-looking woman that we have also never seen before. The unfamiliar ninja-looking woman is just about to dispatch the unfamiliar man when he is saved at the last minute by (drumroll please) Danny Rand (DOH!).
Unfortunately for the stranger in danger, Danny doesn’t ward off the ninja-woman until after she found a moment to stab him with her sharp swords. Just before ninja-woman is about to give the same treatment to Danny he uses the Iron Fist on her and she decides to use her ninja powers and ‘disappears’ herself.
In the resulting discussion with the dying man, Rand finds out that the problem he is trying to solve (aka The Hand) is not in Cambodia, “...it is in New York City.”
After venting his frustration over the death of his new friend, Danny boards his private jet with his buddy (the far more interesting) Colleen Wing in tow.
During the long trip home (well, it was his original home) Danny has a terrible nightmare about betraying the people of the mythical village of K’un Lun (by disappearing to find himself when he was pledged, by his acceptance of the Iron Fist, to protect the village). Colleen calms him down and notes that the ninja-girl was “faster than anyone I’ve ever seen).
Luckily for me, aside from when he reaches New York City at the very end of “The H Word,” this is all we see of Danny Rand for this episode (did I mention that I am not a huge fan).
“Do Not Say The ‘H’ Word”
Jessica Jones wakes up after a bender passed out on the bar of a local NYC pub. She walks outside just in time to save her buddy Patsy from having her car towed (which is when she tells Patsy not to use the ‘H’ Word).
Anyway, when she gets back to her apartment office a woman named Michelle Raymond (and her daughter Lexie) is waiting and wants Jessica’s help finding her missing husband. Jessica is pretty rude to Michele and Lexie suggesting that the husband is probably just having an affair and that she should get herself a divorce lawyer.
However, as she goes into her office the phone rings and a distorted voice tells her not to look for Mr. Raymond. Obviously, Jessica Jones does whatever she is told not to do, so she immediately starts looking for Mr. Raymond with the help of her frenemy assistant Malcolm Ducasse.
As she is doing online research with Malcolm he suggests that she should try to find out the number of the person who called and threatened her, she does and it leads her to a building known to be a place addicts meet up to use. She checks out the joint but finds large amounts of what looks like C-4 explosives instead of Mr. Raymond.
“It’s Too Late For Heroes”
Luke Cage has been released from Seagate prison (if you forgot, he became Power Man after a strange prison experiment gave him powers instead of killing him after he got his powers he escaped Seagate and so, once his identity got out he had to serve out his sentence).
Once he gets off the train in his beloved Harlem, his special friend Claire is waiting for them. Finally, they consummate their relationship and share about three minutes of post-coital discussion before a knock on the door leads Luke to walk around Harlem with Detective Misty Knight. During their walk, Misty leads Luke to a car where a kid was killed. She tells him that the kid who died was the brother of the girl who died after informing on Diamondback. After Cage drinks this tidbit of information in, she asks him to go help the one remaining living brother who could also be at risk.
Luke Cage (being Luke Cage) obliges and the kid in trouble but won’t allow him to help (which I am sure means that he will just let it go and go work sweeping hair at the barbershop again). I do, however, bet he would have rather stayed with Claire. The kid is who told Luke that “it’s too late for heroes” which means he knew something really bad was afoot.
“The Pro Bono Work Makes Me Happy”
After the death of the firm Murdock & Nelson and as a result of the death of Elektra, Matt Murdock is slumming as a pro bono attorney (he has renounced his crime-fighting ways). Somehow, he has managed to take on a personal injury case against a big corporation and ends up winning his client 11 million dollars.
So, when he puts his mind to it, Murdock can be a pretty good attorney but, as we find out, he hates putting his mind to being an attorney because his heart still resides in putting on his skin tight red suit. Every time he takes a few seconds to sit and think, he can hear people suffering all over the city and feels compelled to act in their defense.
He has lunch with Karen Page and lies about wanting to return to being Daredevil (right after he says that he fessed up about being Daredevil because he couldn’t handle lying to her anymore). She says that Daredevil might have made the city a safer place (which is a huge concession).
He discusses his frustrated desires and lying to Karen again in the confessional with his priest and the priest says he should move on and let Elektra go (cool, about time, been waiting for what seems to be 100 years for Daredevil Season 3 and Elektra took up way too much of Season 2).
There is also not much point to having Matt Murdock in The Defenders if he isn’t going to go back to being Daredevil (there are probably better attorneys in New York City but probably not better ‘Men Without Fear’).
“You’ll Need To Disrobe”
Her name is Alexandra (played by Sigourney Weaver) and she is clearly the biggest Hand Boss that we have seen to date. And as you see in the video above, she is full of surprises.
When we first meet her, she is going through a medical diagnostic facility and being told to disrobe, as she does she places one hand against the glass (so that we know who she really is). We find out she has some kind of inoperable cancer (or disease) and that she has either months or weeks left to live.
Eventually, she meets with Madame Gao (who is clearly her subordinate) and orders her to move forward a major plan that we eventually learn involves detonating enough explosives under New York City to cause what appears to be an earthquake. Madame Gao does not seem thrilled that the plan is being moved up and asks several times for Alexandra to consider slowing things down only to be dismissed out of ‘hand.’
It appears that Alexandra is doing this to New York both because The Hand has a particular goal in mind but also because she hates New York City just as passionately as all of The Defenders love it (save Danny who, upon return, is unsure if he cares about New York City). Alexandra tells the story about how the island of Manhattan was originally purchased for about 24 dollars and she concludes the story by saying that the people purchasing Manhattan “Might have paid too much.”
There are two indications that her agenda might be environmental, she mentions that the island of Manhattan used to be covered in forest and she also makes a point of asking Madame Gao to “feed the birds” after she leaves because they seem especially hungry. I also get the real feeling she might have been alive for a very long time (not like 100 years, probably much longer).
At the very end of the episode, as the mini-earthquake is happening, we see Alexandra in her Penthouse rooftop garden and she is talking with the speedy ninja girl from the fight way back in Cambodia, she gently touches ninja’s hair under her hood and says the line of the night:
It’s just a city, you’ll get used to watching them fall.”
Sweet Christmas, that was a pretty good starting episode and thankfully light on Iron Fist. My only worry right now is that they are really working a ton of independent storylines and it might be a long time before the heroes start meeting up and figuring things out.
For me, the best moments were seeing Daredevil and Jessica Jones back after a really long wait but I also thought Sigourney Weaver dominated the screen in every scene she was in, so I suspect she is going to be an amazing villain.
Looking forward to the next episode, which is a welcome change.