“Mean Right Hook” proves The Defenders just needs more Daredevil.
In my review of The Defenders‘ first episode—“The H Word“—I complained about the narrative lacking a significant amount of cohesion. Most importantly, there was a lack of serious stakes. Yes, there were people getting killed and mysteries being initiated. However, in the overall context of things, there didn’t seem to be a goal—and that contributed to a lack of empathy and sympathy for what the main characters were up against.
For “Mean Right Hook,” the momentum picked up quite a bit—and that was due to Matt Murdock finally going into action. And going into action he did. In the opening scene, Matt’s crime-detecting hearing kicked into high gear. It was something he couldn’t ignore. And then the catalyst—a gunshot. As Matt went into full parkour mode, I though to myself, “Yes, now this is a Marvel Studios series!” Was it because of the fight scene? No, not really. It was the anticipation that something big was going to happen. And it was the fact I was rooting for Matt to get to the potential victim fast enough.
After that beautiful intro (the ending of that scene was pretty epic, with the camera on its side showing Matt walking down a smokey alley), we were thrust into the separate stories of the rest of the Defenders. However, unlike the previous episode, I wasn’t squirming in my seat. I was, more so, on the edge of it—waiting to see when the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen will finally appear again.
Now, call it my anxiousness coloring the episode, but, overall, “Mean Right Hook” did seem better. Scenes had a bit more connectivity to them. We got our first meeting between Danny Rand and Luke Cage—future best friends who don’t know it yet. And we also had Matt meeting up with an arrested Jessica Jones, offering his legal services. How he knows about her, I have no idea. Was she part of those case files Foggy gave to Matt?
One thing that really stood out in this episode was Madame Gao’s characterization. In the past … or should I say, every single appearance up to now, Gao seemed to be running the show. Her interaction with Alexandra Reid says otherwise. “Fearful” and “hesitant” are the words I would use to describe Gao in this episode.
Even though it’s now established she’s Reid’s right-hand woman, it’s still strange to see Gao lacking so much confidence, having so little fortitude in her plans and decisions. It was almost like a child asking for reassurance. Gao can still be a subordinate and not act this way. This definitely brings up another mystery: what’s so special about Reid? We know she’s wealthy, as proven by her generous donation to the philharmonic. But that alone can’t be the reason behind her supposed power and influence—especially with someone like Gao.
Let’s hope this upswing in the narrative continues—in other words, let’s hope we get some more Daredevil action. Hey, he already opened up that trunk of his. Baby steps, right?
Marvel’s The Defenders premiered on August 18, 2017. Season 1 is currently available for streaming on Netflix.