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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

TNH Roundtables: Full Season Review - The Defenders

With the latest Marvel show from Netflix recently airing, TNH staff decided to sit down and discuss our thoughts on the series. What did they do right and what did they do wrong? Where have they been, and where could they be going? So, take a gander, and until we sit back down for our upcoming Full Season Review of The Punisher, take to the comments section below and let us know what you thought about this series.

The Defenders


           A couple years back, Marvel answered back to DC's popular shared universe of television within The CW by partnering with Netflix to do the same.  They took a new approach by making dark and gritty street level heroes shows and building it around their signature "Phase" strategy.  The universe started out extremely well with two seasons of Daredevil and a season of Jessica Jones and then brought an overall well received Luke Cage, but suffered none the less as this was their first installment that received poor reviews as well.  The series then introduced Iron Fist with lackluster reception.  They now look to correct their path with The Defenders.  So, we sit down to analyze the show and give our opinions while trying to deduce whether or not they were able to successfully rebound or not.  As always we will give our thoughts on several questions and then we will make our final assessment in the end.  Full disclosure, spoilers will probably take place, so if you have not seen the show and are just looking for a quick yes or no, go ahead and skip to the end.

What do you think about how they meshed in the supporting cast?

Trey - It was a bit of a mixed bag and kind of ties into which of the main characters were more crucial to the main plot of the series.  For example, I have no idea why Misty Knight or any of Jessica's supporting cast members were in it past the first two episodes, but characters like Foggy and Karen felt crucial because this show was very much a continuation of Daredevil's story line as much as it was a crossover between the four shows.  The same could easily be said for Iron Fist and Colleen, but I'm not really sure anyone cared.

Jack - They did a phenomenal job continuing each's own story and using their sub arcs to bring these characters into the same fight pretty much seamlessly.  Each character always felt like they were where they needed to be and really set the convergence up nicely in the office building.  If it wasn't explained within the story leading up to it it was dropped in subtly and for reason later on in the shows dialogue much like how Luke Cage got in the building in the first place.  It's this type of care that made it all work.

Marlon - I thought it was a great show on so many levels.  The story was great, the fight scenes were great, but more importantly, it was the cast that stood out above the rest.  They wove their stories together almost seamlessly; it was phenomenal.

How did you feel about the interaction between the Defenders themselves?

Trey - Fantastic.  They all had great chemistry with one another and manage to make them feel like they all belonged together as a team while keeping the whole "odd couple" dynamic going.  That's a lot harder to pull off then you might think and even the Avenger films have had trouble with it at times.

Jack - I really liked how they came together; each being their own lone wolves taught from their own experiences not to trust anyone, but agreed to work together for a common interest after realizing they are all more alike than they want to be.  I think that the Restaurant episode was a highlight of this and we continued to see it with scenes like the one where Matt and Jessica went to talk to the wife, as well as, he scene with Luke and Danny in the apartment and others like it.  Each character remained its own while serving a distinct purpose to the team with their own aura that allowed them to mix and match two at a time for unique interactions bringing out different sides of each other.  I think the colors used in the lighting amplified an already great dialogue.

Marlon - I really liked how they came together; how they went from not trusting one another, but worked well together for the common goal.  The core of this team is in the name; they defend.  It is this that drives them on their own and it is this that drove them together.

Did you feel they kept each individual personality while maintaining a group personality successfully?

Trey - Yes.  When it comes down to it, this series could easily be interpreted as the next season to each of their own shows.  Everyone seemed to have gotten their own self-contained story arc while learning to trust one another and work together as a group.  It's something I think the Avenger films should try every now and then.

Jack - Absolutely, as I mentioned before, the character interactions distinctive tones were major keys to making it the shows strongest suit.  The the biggest factors of this were the script, direction and dialogue.  They knew exactly how to match the personality combinations and how to draw their bond out.  The cast had amazing chemistry that made this genuine.  The ambiance was another major factor in this with clever lighting placement using the characters four distinctive colors to create the intended tones.

Marlon - It was quite the showing of balance story telling and dialogue that can't be done very often.  They really made it interesting just to listen to them talk.

Thoughts on Stick? Did they do the right thing for the story?

Trey - Ehhhhh.  Stick was obviously an integral part to it and his ending int he story felt about right, but I feel like they could have cut his character out altogether and it wouldn't have made much of a difference.  Even his conclusion in the story felt a bit off and the various characters' reaction to it was literally non-existent.

Jack - Sticks persona allows them to move the story along using his straight forward way of handling things by revealing major plots points in swift swoops.  They do this well utilizing him and that makes his part necessary and to have his daughter kill him to propel his son after years of praising her and scolding him; well that's just bitter sweet isn't it?  Not really, because right before he died we saw the biggest compassion for Matt that Stick has ever show and that death was a wise choice for the plot.  Problem with it is the fallout we began to feel was quickly doused as the characters themselves didn't seem to feel it.  I guess the contrast of personalities that was great for us was just not good on their chemistry.

Marlon - I love Stick.  He is a nonsense guy that isn't afraid to make the hard choices and the fact that he cut his own hand off makes his part worth existing.  He's a great contrast to everyone else and it helps strengthen the defenders dialogue by giving it a friendly antagonist to create spacing and revelations for unity.


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Did you approve of how they went about the Elektra storyline? What was right/wrong about it?

Trey - No, no, no, no and no.  When she showed up in the second season of Daredevil the show went right down the toilet.  It tied back to this odd destiny crap and her entire function in that show was only to serve other people's plots.  Somehow, they made it worse here.  Her entire function in this show was basically to be a kill crazy robot and to give Daredevil something of a wild card plot; something literally that would make him go rogue and break up the Defender group dynamic.  Then at the end when she gains her independence back it turns out she's doing all of this more or less for the same reasons as she was in season two; to bone Matt and turn him into a killer like her.  It's complete garbage and I really don't want to see her in the shows anymore until they pull a 180 with her somehow.

Jack - They have absolutely shit on this character.  One of the weakest, yet most potential parts of Daredevil's second season and it repeats here.  With the revival I was hoping for a redemption, but we didn't get that.  If I were to find something I enjoyed about the story it's that she is dead and cannot be fucked with any more or shes not dead and she is finally free and able to be her own story rather tan someones plot device.  I like that they used her kills in such an impacting and precise way even if they failed to execute it properly.

Marlon - I hated it.  It's bad enough that they bring people back from the dead, but they didn't even do so with good reason.  Their attempt to weaken Matt was just that; weak.  It was a weak attempt at a weak plot.

What were the highs and lows of the Hand?

Trey - It's the  MCU's version of The Hand; a group tat is quite literally a magic ninja death cult that they somehow managed to make boring.  There were no real highs for this.  As for the lows, I could write and entire article around just the surface of it, but the short version is that they're just boring.

Jack - The highs were the potential that each character had, the lows was the execution we actually got.  An organization with such depth even in this iteration became so lame and boring.  Madam Gao was easily the best part of The Hand showcasing her history as one of the baddest of the bunch.

Marlon - The high point is that they go the substance and the low is that the Hand is a few fingers short. but seriously, not much else to say on them.  Somehow, they end up lacking substance; no pun intended.

What did you think about the finale and where it left off, and where would you like to see them take it from here?

Trey - I think it ends things on a mostly satisfying note.  Danny Rand gets a new outlook on his mission as The Iron Fist.  Luke Cage is clearly ready to move on with his life.  Jessica Jones is finally starting to work again, and it made me look forward to the future of these characters.  But we can't have any more Hand nonsense.  In the future, they need to take more notes from Daredevil season one and Jessica Jones.  Keep the show well plotted and building up to a finale that will pay off, but also keep some smaller arcs going on so we don't get tired of waiting for everything to pay off.

Jack - I think the show is in a good spot for characters like Iron Fist and Jessica Jones, but I'm still unsure what to think of Daredevil's ending.  I'm honestly not a fan of the direction that story has been taken right now.  Hey, maybe Daredevil goes crazy and runs wild on New York in their version of Shadowland.  Doubt it, but I'm intrigued to see where it goes from here.

Marlon - The final battle set to a Wu-Tang song was awesome.  Now the whole Matt coming back to life thing, as I stated before that's not a plot device I'm too much of a fan of, but I would like to see him battle the good and evil inside him.

Overall, was it a successful run? What did they do right/wrong with the show, and if wrong, how would you have done it differently?

Trey - Again we have sort of a mixed bag I feel.  The character interaction is great and is what keeps it going.  The problem is the plot and The Hand.  They are the black hole of suckage that is keeping this show from being more than just and entertaining watch.  As for what I would have done differently, first I would have made Ike Perlmutter cough up another Million or two so tat we could make some better action scenes and actually keep consistent to what was pre-established.  As for the plot itself, I really don't know.  The rot for The Hand had already been set into its bones so there really wasn't any saving that group.  The only thing I can think of would have been to bring in someone new altogether and just cut one;s losses regarding The Hand.  Maybe bring back Wilson Fisk or some other left-over villain whose arc was never resolved in the films.  Beyond that I would need a lot more time and incentive to actually think of something.

Jack - It was a successful run for sure, but it could have been much better.  The Villains area lacked severely.  I would have focused less on trying to bring them into the next series and more on writing them better in this series.  I would have had Elektra in all red and had Matt break through and flip her.  It's also not the father son and daughter scene i would have written, but it's one I can dig.  Regardless, I recommend the show to all.

Marlon - This show was awesome. In my opinion, pretty much everything was well done and fit together.  Even it's weaker points worked well with the rest of it.  Definitely a must watch.

In conclusion, the show had a couple things so densely rotted that it pulled the show down so that it can't be put up with the greatest, but there are a few elements that are done so well that this show is definitely worth the binge.  The Defenders provides a good learning platform of what not to do and how to do things others have failed at.  All in all, this show was an entertaining watch and an essential to this shared universe.  We recommend everyone watch it.



Stay Tuned for our next installment of this Roundtable Review series following the Marvel/Netflix show where we give our thoughts on The Punisher.

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Written and Edited by, Jack Flowers. Contributions from Marlon Ortega and Trey Griffeth.

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