Why The Defenders Didn’t Work (review filled w/spoilers)

Elektra was a major fail.

Her return was done really well.  Much better than it was in the comics and more realistic than I imagined.  I give a lot of credit to Elodie Yung who plays the character for making her seem so real, fragile, and strong all at the same time. The scene where she was “birthed” from the chamber was powerful, her slipping around on the blood on the floor while not having the capacity to speak made her seem vulnerable and unsure.  How Alexandra, played by Sigourney Weaver, explained the process and the progression of fights Elektra mastered really showcased her development into the ultimate fighter, The Black Sky.

The Defenders in action with Elektra creeping up behind

It was after that when it went off the rails.  First, it’s hard to believe that Sigourney Weaver could lead an organization as powerful as The Hand without some massive fighting skills of her own.  Even Madame Gao showed she was a “force” to be reckoned with when she exhibited powers like Yoda and Darth Vader.  If Madame Gao could do it, why didn’t Sigourney exhibit her abilities at all?  Plus, how could an organization as powerful and as ancient as The Hand not be prepared for four superhumans who were on the “B”-list?  In a world with The Hulk, wouldn’t they take those things into consideration?  They knew all about Danny Rand and his Iron Fist.  They didn’t know about Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, or the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen?  How could they not have been keeping a tab on one of Sticks’ disciples?

The show kept teasing us with her sais until she finally used them against her mentor – why did she switch weapons?

Then the absolutely easy way Alexandra was killed.  Stabbed through the heart by the sai of her prodigy.  Predictable but also pretty unrealistic.  In the middle of this speech about how great she was, her student guts her?  And she didn’t anticipate it coming?  Having survived for centuries and something like this never sprung up as a possibility?  And then Elektra suddenly declaring that she was in charge.  Why would they go along with that?  If Elektra were that powerful why was she so easily defeated by just Matt Murdock?  I know you’re going to say her love for him was her undoing, but come on.  Seriously?  Did anyone else think that was completely stupid?  It would be one thing if Matt sensed a change in her breathing rhythm when he was close or could smell her pheromones react to his, but instead we get this completely sappy, “I know she’s in there somewhere” line straight from Luke Skywalker himself.

Elodie does a great job in the first half of the series and a marginal one after Sigourney dies

And sorry Elodie.  For as much praise as she gets for her early portrayal of Elektra, she gets zero for the half-hearted, over-maniacal leader of The Hand.  Madame Gao was right.  Leading The Hand was more than just good fighting skills.  It’s also about leadership which Elektra had none.  Like with Luke Cage this was another instance where a good villain was done in too soon.  No payoff for the audience.  After all the running around they did to get Alexandra, suddenly she’s just dead.  Quite a horrible denouement.

Other than that, my criticism in the spoiler-free review still stands about how unnecessary Jessica and Luke are to the plot.  They were made to fit into the story instead of the story revolving around these four in particular.  Not enough time was done laying down the foundation for this shorter series.  And why is it that Danny comes across as some spoiled rich kid when in reality he only recently fell into that lifestyle? He’s not the Bruce Wayne of the Marvel Universe.  We’ve got Tony Stark for that.

“Is that pork?”
“No, that’s shrimp. That guy’s got pork.”
“You’re weird.”

I thought it was a weird choice to dump all the “accessory” characters together into a toy box at the police station and then pretty much do nothing with them except for one tiny interaction between Karen and Trish.  As smart as all of them are, wouldn’t one of them have wondered why this particular group of people was hanging out at the police station?  They did such a poor job of developing these characters and made little use of them.  Wouldn’t The Hand have an agent at the police station?  Wouldn’t there have been some attempt on their lives?  Why would the police station of all places by the safest place for them?

I’m still hoping future series will add an intriguing layer to the mix and add to the complexity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  But this one was disappointing considering the work they did to lead into it.  Instead, this show felt like an excuse to put these characters together instead of a well-crafted plot leading up to this point.

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