The Defenders 1.08: The Defenders
The Defenders comes to an end with season finale entitled The Defenders. At deadlock after the last episode's end, the group have to make a snap decision on whether to go through with their plans to destroy the Midland Circle building once and for all and stop whatever nefarious plans The Hand have planned. After seven episodes of arguments, internal fighting and squabbles, we finally get to see the team work together as a unit, each using their specific skill sets and abilities to full effect.
For a series that emphasises the darker aspects of being a vigilante hero, the fight scenes across The Defenders - and especially The Defenders - are bathed in the shadows and dark corners of NYC. It seems to have become de rigour for any action set pieces across TV or Film to become soaked in darkness to the point of not being able to see what is going on and the camera so close to the actors you can count their pores. Thanks Christopher Nolan and your Dark Knight Trilogy aesthetic, it's still being felt in 2017.
The episode also gives time to some of the side characters and their stories. The likes of Colleen, Claire and Misty get in on the action, with a face off against Bakuto, who chops off Misty's arm for good measure, shadowing her character in the comics. These characters are interesting but with only eight episodes, it's ultimately wasted screen time that could have been utilised better keeping the focus on our four main characters. Stay with the core group and if the side characters stories interact with them, all the better, if they don't, never mind. There is little to no need for them to have their own narrative away from the main storyline.
The Defenders gives each of the four main cast a chance to wrap up their main character arcs ready for the inevitable return of their individual shows. Jessica returns to work at Alias Investigations, Luke returns to protecting Harlem, Danny starts to feel at home in New York and Matt, well Matt is...somewhere. At the end of The Defenders and a heart to heart with Elektra, Midland Circle is destroyed with them still in the building. What follows is probably my favourite scene of the whole series, The Defenders return one by one and embrace their loved ones, while the absent Matt leaves Foggy and Karen embracing in grief at their loss. The camera invading their private grief gives you a sense of their loss, especially as all the others have returned home safe.
It's an interesting scene and a well rounded, heart breaking moment but one that we already know is not thr end for Matt, with the announcement of a third season of Daredevil to follow. We find a battered and bruised Matt, sans his costume, on a makeshift bed, with a nun at his bedside who says off screen "go get Maggie". Maggie is Daredevil's mother in the comics and is a major part of the critically acclaimed storyline 'Born Again' which is my favourite run of the comics. The shot showing Matt in bed is almost a replica of the comic panel as well, now that's how you end on a cliff hanger.
As an episode The Defenders runs around keeping itself busy without too much narrative momentum, with more questions to answer than they have time for and no more episodes left to answer them. The Defenders as a series was largely misguided, reintroducing characters we are already aware of and keeping them apart for far too long. Having a screen icon like Sigourney Weaver as a major villain and getting her to do absolutely nothing (really, what did Alexandra actually do?) and then get killed off, felt like a major ball drop on the part of the creatives on the show. As each character goes back to their respective series, maybe this group are better off apart and defending their individual parts of the New York, rather than as a whole.