The Defenders’ Season 1 finale is a case of too little too late, with an overly long denouement.
Here we are, the final episode of The Defenders. “The Defenders” (yes, they followed Daredevil‘s formula and named the final episode the same as the series) starts off quickly, with the team already at Midland Circle. They spend a few minutes arguing over the ethics of blowing up a whole building. Okay, maybe not “they.” It was the team trying to convince Luke Cage that the Hand will never stop, so dispatching them in a fiery way was the only solution.
Even Daredevil (who usually struggles with these types of questions) was totally game—so you know how badly Matt wants to get rid of the Hand. After reassuring Luke that no innocent lives will be lost, the three Defenders venture off to find a way into the hole. They soon discover a hidden elevator which takes them down a pit.
It’s here the three have a showdown with Madame Gao, Murakami, and a band of Hand soldiers. So, what have they found using the Iron Fist? Fossilized dragon remains which they’ll use to make more of the substance—the magic goo which gives them their immortality.
Meanwhile, Bakuto is upstairs—tracking Claire Temple and Colleen Wing, who are both working on strapping C4 to the building’s support beams. After trading some words with her former sensei, Colleen engages him. As more Hand soldiers enter, Claire holds them off. However, it’s a bit overwhelming. Luckily for them, Misty Knight enters and gets a few good shots in. For some reason, Bakuto isn’t even affected (maybe I missed something, but I think the Hand can still be hurt by bullets). When Bakuto is about to decapitate Claire, Misty steps in and saves her. However, Misty gets her arm sliced clean off (yep, we also get a Misty Knight origin story in this series).
Downstairs, in the pit, the Defenders are fully engaged with the Hand. This is the best fight scene in the whole series—which isn’t saying much because The Defenders has a pretty weak track record in this department. At least the action is discernible and you can tell the good guys from the bad guys. There’s also some effort in the camera work—we get a 360-degree shot showing each Defender engaging the enemy.
However, there’s still this inconsistency in powers and abilities. In the garage fight scene in “Fish in the Jailhouse“, Madame Gao used her telekinetic abilities to effortlessly throw cars at our heroes. Here, those abilities are lacking. There’s no explanation for it. In a way, the fight ended up being a bit too easy.
After the dramatic ending—with Matt sacrificing himself—we get a denouement that felt like something we saw in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). Yes, it was overly long. Perhaps it was due to the numerous characters—but I felt a bit cheated. Those minutes could’ve been used to advance the story a bit more, or even give us more action scenes.
Was The Defenders a horrible entry? Definitely not. The series is a step above Iron Fist and also improves on that character’s fighting choreography. However, after experiencing both Daredevil seasons, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, I was expecting a lot more. After all, this show had three of the main characters from three of the best Netflix shows.
Marvel’s The Defenders premiered on August 18, 2017. Season 1 is currently available for streaming on Netflix.