“Royal Dragon,” with its repetitive exposition, has The Defenders sliding back into a slow narrative.
I get it, each Defender just met each other. But do we really need to sit through all of this exposition that’s already known? “Worst Behavior” had The Defenders going into a new direction, but “Royal Dragon” completely killed any momentum the previous episode established. Remember when you were a kid and you rode the roller coaster? Remember when you reached the top and thought, “Hmm, what if this thing didn’t go over the hump, but started to slide back?” That thought basically sums up this episode.
“Royal Dragon”—aptly named because that’s the restaurant they escape to—also breaks a very simple screenwriting rule: do not let your characters stay stagnant at one location. There was no reason for the Defenders to remain at the restaurant for an extended period of time—especially when nothing was happening. There was conflict between the individuals, but, again, it wasn’t organic. The push-and-pull dynamic just wasn’t strong enough.
When Jessica Jones did leave, there really wasn’t an immediate opposing force. So why did the rest of them stay there? Matt was the one who was complaining about not dragging anybody else into this mess—yet he never made an attempt at an exit. Even Stick—who usually makes a scene interesting—seemed completely out of place and forced.
One of the biggest disappointments was during Alexandra’s meeting with the team. The episode lost a great opportunity at showing how much of a threat she really is. With all that talk about his chi, Danny did nothing. I mean, come on, at least attempt a punch. In fact, not one of our heroes showed much action. Sure, there was that end scene of Jessica pushing a car through the restaurant. But was that the only thing the writers could come up with?
Being the fourth episode, it’s now at the direct halfway mark for the series. In serialized shows, this is considered the height of Act II—there should be some form of turning point. All I’m seeing is the same old same old. I’m starting to wonder if this show was made for people who never watched any of the previous series.
For all that talk about how dangerous and formidable the Hand is, I’m not really seeing much from this villainous force. I’m thinking the writers have forgotten the old adage of screenwriting—show don’t tell. The only thing they’re showing us right now is a wasted opportunity to develop these characters and push the mythology further.
So far, The Defenders has been quite disappointing. What happened to this series? Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Daredevil Season 2, and Luke Cage were all impeccable shows. It’s a shame to see the writers not taking advantage of what’s been built up. They basically have carte blanche to do many different things. What’s holding them back?
Marvel’s The Defenders premiered on August 18, 2017. Season 1 is currently available for streaming on Netflix.