DISCLAIMER: This recap of The Defenders contains more spoilers than the number of times Danny has centered his chi. You’ve been warned. Proceed with caution.
Welcome back, Defenders of New York! We’re only two episodes out from finishing Season 1 of The Defenders! Hard to believe that just a few days prior I had no idea what this show would be like. I’ve changed so much since then. Anyway, a whole lot of death happened this episode – we lost Stick, for one. That one stung somewhat, but less than it could have due to Stick betraying Danny shortly before passing. Our second death belongs to none other than Alexandra. Yes, the figurehead of The Hand was mercilessly assassinated. Elektra is to blame for both deaths. Ironic how Alexandra assumed Elektra would kill the remaining “fingers,” but instead our Black Sky slaughtered her. Not to mention, Elektra told Madame Gao, Bakuto and Murakami that they’re all working for her now. Talk about cranking up the intensity!
Alright, Defenders, ready to delve into “Ashes, Ashes?” Be sure to light some incense and center your chi. You’re going to need it.
We open with Alexandra (Sigourney Weaver) listening intently to her record player churning out a classical piece. She closes her eyes and allows the music to take her. Then, the record begins to skip, ruining the moment. She takes the record out, forlornly, and checks to see if there’s any damage present. I bet she was in attendance when said classical piece was recorded.
Meanwhile, we see our Defenders still reeling from Stick (Scott Glenn) slicing off Sowande’s head. They believe he didn’t have to die – that they could’ve milked more information out of him. Stick brings up that the Iron Fist is most likely a key to something, rather than a weapon. Sowande was willing to die to protect whatever Danny is supposed to open. Then, the light bulb goes off in Matt Murdock’s (Charlie Cox) head. Danny Rand (Finn Jones) immediately catches on to whatever Matt’s cooking. Our Daredevil thinks they need to take Danny out of the equation by hiding him. While The Hand remains distracted in pinpointing his location, our Defenders can continue to investigate and plan away. Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) both agree with Matt’s idea.
Now, thankfully, Stick sides with our heroes. He thinks if Alexandra finds Danny it’s all over. Danny complains the remaining three need him and his power. He knows The Hand well, and argues that they wish to drive a wedge between The Defenders. However, he’s still outnumbered. Then, in a huff, Danny attempts to leave. Matt, ever the preventative roadblock, impedes his exit. Suddenly, a fight erupts between the duo. Luke and Jessica also join in to assist Matt in keeping Danny from leaving. Luckily, our girl Jessica is superhero strong, and she lands the definitive punch that knocks our Iron Fist unconscious. Game over!
Later, Luke has an unconscious Danny slung over his shoulder, walking with Jessica to a safe space to tie him up. Our former lovebirds comment on how difficult it is to get in contact with the other. Luke initially blames Jessica, then the latter fires back that Luke could stand to pick up a phone too. Luke concedes to this, and they continue their walk. Just get back together already!
After securely tying Danny up, the remaining quartet contemplates their next move. They believe that Midland Circle is the root of The Hand problem – it led all of our Defenders there for certain. Matt reveals he was on site prior to the finished product – when it was simply a hole in the ground. Jessica and Luke ask him why he waited so long to reveal pertinent information. On top of that, he was with Elektra. After a small bout of bickering, Jessica and Matt decide to visit the Raymond residence for clues, since the late John was an architect who designed Midland Circle Financial. Luke will stay and guard the sleeping Danny. Go, team, go!
Meanwhile, Elektra (Elodie Yung) is soundly sleeping on Matt’s couch. It’s obvious she’s dreaming. Matt sidles up next to her with a coffee mug in hand. We see them share a couple’s moment. Then, real Elektra wakes up in Matt’s bed. She spots the green trunk containing Matt’s Daredevil fighting gear. Elektra begins perusing the contents, and stumbles upon his Bible. She sneaks a peek inside and discovers a card with scripture on it. Said card hails from a local cemetery. Then, Elektra leaves in a hurry, so as not to be discovered. She remembers/misses our Daredevil, guys!
Later, Stick and Luke contemplate what to do with the body of Sowande. Stick has some ideas and after Luke offers to take care of it himself, Stick replies that it’s best if he doesn’t know, which is the solitary theme for this show. Stick confesses that even after slaying one of the “fingers,” he’s still haunted by the acts they’ve done. He’ll figure out what to do with the late Sowande.
Meanwhile, Jessica and Matt are at his apartment so he can change. He notices that someone rummaged through his trunk, as his Bible is laying on the floor. Elektra! Jessica asks him if something’s wrong, but Matt, in typical Matt fashion, suppresses his thoughts and tells her everything’s fine. What happened to trusting each other? She’s now seen your apartment, which is next level trust right there.
Later, Alexandra is with Murakami (Yutaka Takeuchi), Bakuto (Ramon Rodriguez) and Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho). They’ve received the gift of Sowande’s head in a box. Alexandra leads them in a makeshift vigil for the late leader. Murakami still resolutely believes that Black Sky was their undoing. She was always Alexandra’s pet project. Madame Gao, however, steps in to defend Alexandra, saying she’ll support their leader regardless of what happens. Plot twist!
Meanwhile, Jessica and Matt are searching for the Raymond brownstone. Well, they all look the same in New York, so good luck with that. Fortunately, they discover the correct house. Lexi (Chloe Levine), Michelle’s daughter, answers the door. They hope to ask her a few questions regarding her father. She allows them inside.
Then, Madame Gao pays Alexandra a visit, while the latter takes her pain medication. With a last ditch effort, Gao tries to talk some sense into her fearless leader. She feels they’re not closer to immortality, to obtaining the substance they need for said immortality, or returning to K’un Lun. They’re, in actuality, closer to death. Alexandra retorts that Black Sky has a strength that they desperately need to securing the Iron Fist. Gao reminds her that the guys don’t see that. Alexandra resolutely believes they merely want her seat at the table. After Gao leaves she runs into Murakami, and tells him he was right. Uh oh. Something tells me a coup d’etat is afoot.
Later, Danny wakes up. He discovers he’s bound tightly to his chair, and whenever he pulls to free his wrists, a rope around his neck tightens. Whoever thought of that is smart. Luke is sitting in front of him, reading a newspaper at his leisure. He refuses to release Danny. Danny counters with “After I center my chi I’m getting out of this chair.” That line killed me, the way he said it like a petulant child (which is how he’s acting). Our duo notices Stick is meditating, centering his “animal.” Sounds more intense to me than dealing with chi. Danny tries to talk about the events that led him to be the Iron Fist but Luke initially laughs it off, not falling for “that mystic stuff.” However, he decides to prod Danny to continue his story, seeing that it keeps our hostage happy. I love these two together.
Meanwhile, Matt and Jessica are asking Lexi a series of questions regarding her late father. She talks about how work and family were always separate to him. Jessica regales the other two with a tale of a friend of hers – his father was a boxer and a criminal, but he was trying to be good. He ended up passing and her friend blamed himself for his father’s death. Matt realizes immediately that said anecdote is about his father. Jessica brings the lesson home by telling Lexi her dad was doing his best to be a good person. Aw, that’s the sweetest thing Jessica has ever said.
Later, Alexandra finds Elektra in the cemetery she saw in Matt’s Bible. Alexandra informs Elektra of her past name, and that she died because of Matt. She’s no longer Elektra, though. She’s the Black Sky, the salvation of The Hand. Then, Alexandra reveals she’s dying, and potentially for good this time. She used the last of a special substance reserved for resurrections to bring Elektra back to life. So far, The Hand’s search for said substance has been futile. Without it, not only to the “fingers” die, but Elektra will die permanently as well. Elektra vows to continue her service to The Hand, and to “serve life itself.” I thought it interesting that last bit was recited while standing among tombstones.
Then, we return to Jessica and Matt’s questioning of Lexi. The young girl reveals an interesting fact about the late John Raymond – he used to play piano, but ceased doing so shortly before his death. Matt reveals that he too can tickle the ivory keys. He finds the family piano and begins plunking out the chords to The Defenders theme song. I always love when shows have their characters pay homage to their theme music (Orphan Black did something similar in its series finale). Matt notices something odd – one of the keys is striking an object hidden within the piano. Jessica, who originally thought he was nuts for deciding to play, quickly flips it open and procures a long piece of paper. Said paper reveals the building specs for Midland Circle. Bingo! Now, time to go sniffing for more clues.
Meanwhile, Stick strikes a chord of his own when he asks Luke about his stint in prison. Luke brushes it off, replying that event is behind him now. Stick reveals he too spent a decade in prison, and that’s where he learned to fight, where he met the Chaste for the first time. They were the closest thing he had to family. We see that Stick is burning incense, which he attributes to helping center his thoughts.
Later, Matt and Jessica are en route back to the warehouse. Matt asks our girl how she knew about his father. Jessica reveals that he took her case, and she in turn took his. She believes it’s better if they trust each other. Matt’s in awe, commenting on how it’s the nicest thing she’s ever said to him. Jessica, as per usual, tells him not to get used to it. I also adore these two together – they have excellent chemistry.
Then, Stick waves the incense in Luke’s direction, and it knocks our big guy unconscious. It must be akin to a sleeping gas. Stick approaches Danny, with every intention of killing him. Slaying the Iron Fist might be the best method of preventing him from falling into Alexandra’s hands. Not that I agree with what the old man’s doing. Meanwhile, Matt senses something is amiss, and he bolts for the warehouse at top speed, with Jessica trailing behind him.
Next, Elektra enters the fray, knocking Stick to the ground. They duke it out, just like old times. Jessica and Matt arrive on the scene. Elektra even refers to Matt by his name, as she hovers her sword over Stick’s chest. Matt tries desperately to sway the Black Sky, persuading her she’s not one of them. Elektra tells Matt she’s glad to see him and promptly shoves her sword through Stick’s chest. RIP to everyone’s favorite, curmudgeonly mentor. Then, she battles the trio of freely moving Defenders, knocking them all aside like rag dolls. Once everyone is unconscious, she grabs the also knocked out Danny and jumps out the window.
Meanwhile, Alexandra is having dinner solo when Murakami crashes the party. He knows she prefers to dine alone, but he wishes to make amends. He brings her a vintage wine as a gift. Then, Murakami threatens our lead villain, attempting to usurp her. Elektra arrives with the unconscious Danny in tow, dropping him unceremoniously on the floor at Alexandra’s feet. Alexandra takes this as a victory, and defiantly tells Murakami that she always wins. You go, girl!
Later, we’re at The Hand headquarters (aka Midland Circle Financial). Danny is awake, and Alexandra once again attempts to sway Danny to their cause. They both want the same thing, right? To return to K’un Lun? Danny continues to emphasize his disgust of them, remaining with feet firmly planted on the side of the good guys. Danny is then wheeled away. Alexandra orders Elektra to slaughter the remaining Defenders. Our Black Sky disappears off screen, presumably to carry out her orders. Alexandra reminds her colleagues that she neutralized their enemies and brought the Iron Fist to them. In short, she’s their leader for a reason.
Suddenly, we see a sword pierce Alexandra’s chest. Blood blooms and soaks her clothes. Elektra is standing behind her, triumphant. Then, when Alexandra falls to the ground, Elektra finishes the job by chopping off her head. Elektra turns to the remaining three “fingers,” blood soaked, and informs them they work for her now. Mic drop.
Holy guacamole, Batman! That ending! While I thoroughly enjoyed this episode of The Defenders, it didn’t really kick into high gear until the last 15 minutes. We had not one, but two major deaths, with Elektra presumably taking up the mantle as the lead villain. I can’t see Matt forgiving and/or defending Elektra now that she’s killed Stick, so perhaps her shifting to full-on enemy won’t be so difficult to swallow for our Daredevil. The tables have turned drastically for the final episodes of the season, and I’m curious to see where they go next.
Do you think Elektra will be a true enemy of The Defenders, or is she merely eliminating The Hand from the inside? Keep your enemies close, they say. Will Matt ever forgive her? How exactly does The Hand plan to use Danny, and can they extract his Iron Fist powers in some way? Only two episodes left to find out, gang!
The Defenders is now streaming on Netflix.