The Defenders 1.03: Worst Behaviour
After two somewhat lacklustre episodes, viewers would be right to worry that maybe the creative team behind The Defenders have bitten off more than they can chew. This third of the initial run of eight episodes mostly gets right which was previously wrong and delivers a great installment centred around a fast paced and multifaceted battle sequence set in the offices of Midland Circle Financial. Finally the Defenders are all in one place, maybe not mentally, but certainly physically.
This episode is a combination of many things, from the scripts sharp, humorous dialogue to the choreography of the action. Take for example the quips between the group which are becoming a staple of the Netflix / Marvel Cinematic Universe and the brutal action choreography highlighted in the ending battle set in tight claustrophobic corridors each showcasing the individual characters' strengths. The revelation that Matt Murdock is actually fighting his old flame Elektra is a shock to viewer and character alike. In the previous two episodes it was a little unclear who the character was, but is made clear here. Unfortunately, many viewers (me included) think Elektra was the weakest part of Daredevil Season Two. The Punisher clearly stole her thunder.
In many ways, this episode was paced better than the first couple purely because t the introductions out of the way and the main thread can get started. All the previous episodes dot-to-dot connections have now all come into place. There is a very well played scene when Matt Murdock is tailing Jessica Jones who in turn tails Matt Murdock and back again. From the sound dropping out for Matt, to Jessica clocking Matt following her around, it's a funny, inventive scene.
The strand that has connected all the characters of the Netflix / Marvel Cinematic Universe together so far is Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple, who has appeared in each character's individual season so far. Here she brings Luke Cage and Iron Fist together and lets them verbally spar with each other. The scene is well written with no bells and whistles to speak of, almost Tarantinoesque in tone. Luke Cage verbally attacks Iron Fist and tries to get him to see the world, not through the white privileged background he is accustomed too but to other less well off eyes. It's a needed conversation that the series would do well to develop further in future episodes to come.
The script, written by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and Daniel Petrie, is the best of the three scripts so far. Getting the balance of Danny and Luke's backstories playing off against each other is a highlight. Barbed quips and banter play out across the episode ("You punched me!/"He punched first!") breaking the tension.
The episode ends with THE FIGHT. Remember the corridor fights in Daredevil shrouded in darkness, all awesome and breathtaking? Imagine the same thing but in bright light and with clarity. The explosive encounter shows that even with the limitations of a television format and budget, skilled direction and inventive use of camera work can make an episode pop and bring something new to the genre.
The end shot of the team in the elevator wets the appetite for further episodes to come and caps off the strongest installment of The Defenders yet.