The Defenders 1.06: Ashes, Ashes
The following review contains full spoilers for episode six of The Defenders. Read on at your own peril.
Guest star Sigourney Weaver is front and centre as the episode opens with Alexandra listening to her beloved classical music on a rather fancy vinyl player. Her character has been enigmatic from the start and here she is no different; coldly aloof and silently eating lunch with the grace you would expect from the character. It's a shame that the episode, and the series as a whole, simply wastes the actor embodying the character. So much more could have been done and the way her character plays out here is disappointing.
I don't understand why a character actor with such high standing as Weaver would decide to take on a character such as Alexandra given the path she takes over the series. Sigourney Weaver and the command she brings to the series is lost for good in this episode. As a spiritually awakened Elektra realises who she is after retrieving her weapons, she stabs Alexandra in the back. We shall never know why Alexandra was like she was, who she was and more importantly, why she was. Why bring such a fine actress into a series for her to do little to nothing in the preceding five episodes just to have her killed?
Elsewhere in the episode, The Defenders are at each others throats again and still cannot come together under one goal, serving one purpose, however much Stick and Iron Fist talk about 'inner chi' and what they think The Hand wants. The story splits the group up into two pairs, Daredevil and Jessica Jones investigating Midland Circle and Luke Cage looking after a tied up Iron Fist after it is found out he is some sort of 'key' rather than a weapon.
Iron Fist is understandably pissed by this and I couldn't help but laugh during their scenes together as Iron Fist tries to get Luke Cage to understand how he got his powers after "punching dragons". Being the primal character, Luke Cage b belittles Iron Fist to the point of treating him like the whiny privileged child he really is. It's a well played out scene, balancing on a knife edge between seriousness and humour.
Daredevil and Jessica Jones are trying to find the architect who created the Midland Circle building to understand why there is a giant hole in the building and how to destroy it before The Hand become all powerful. It's all getting a bit Star Wars like with the hole vulnerability akin to the Death Star port in A New Hope. A short playful, warming scene plays out as Jessica Jones recalls to the architects daughter, how a "father to a close friend" only wanted to be a hero to his son rather than a bad guy. Clearly Jessica is describing the connection between Matt Murdoch and his own father. One which Matt recognises and they have a moment as they leave. Jessica is starting to warm to the idea of having Matt around.
And then we have Stick. He has always said he has had options for three plans depending on how things play out. We've never heard or seen anything of plan three until now. With an incapacitated Iron Fist, Luke Cage is drugged by Stick so he can get rid of Iron Fist himself, only for Stick to meet a returning Elektra, and the pointy end of one of her katana. In fact, it is Elektra's actions that lead to the two big shocks of the episode, even if the second hangs on the frustrating disposal of Alexandra.
Narratively, a lot happens across this episode. With Alexandra now dead, Elektra has started to get her memories back and become the leader of The Hand in a shocking coup. The Defenders are slowly understanding each other, if rather slowly. But with ninety minutes of screen time left, this is seriously feeling like too little too late.