This will be a hard one to review. I try to be objective, but at its heart so much of reviewing is subjective. Time to thread the needle.
The Defenders s01e05 Take Shelter
writers: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, Douglas Petrie & Marco Ramirez
director: Uta Briesewitz
In this episode we get some good interactions and a few decent lines. We, sort of, get some more insight into what the villains want. But then there is the other side. None of the fight scenes really took hold and I never really got the feeling that the plot was moving forward, but rather just moving sideways. It wasn’t bad, just felt like far too much treading water.
Spoilers Lurk Below
Treading water really has been the big sin of most of these Marvel shows. Its almost like the took the worst traits of deconstructed comic book writing and said “How can we do a TV version of that?” And I really don’t want to call the result “bad”, because I have seen a lot worse storytelling on TV. But it just makes these shows feel poorly paced and rather hollow, and it is a thin line between less-than-entertaining and bad.
All that said, I still want to lift up Yutaka Takeuchi (Murakami). Ever time this guy gets screen time I get a little smile. There is something about his rhythm and cadence that makes him very enjoyable. That character just comes off as so irreverent and seems to be constantly insulting the “main villain,” Sigourney Weaver. It makes me wonder, because the version I’m watching doesn’t have subtitles for Japanese. And I haven’t searched for them, because that is a skill I have. But every line he has is a delight and I want more of him in this show.
Part of that may also play into my big gripe from last episode. I’m just not enjoying this ancient untied nations of the Hand. It just isn’t working for me, and takes away the coolness of evil ninja death cult. Call me old fashioned, but I do tend to like my evil ninja death cults to be at least rooted in Japan. And this story would work just as well if Sigourney Weaver were just a foreign investor. It makes me wonder why this change happened. Did I miss some comics, or is this to avoid any complaints about the portrayal of Japan? Either way, it hurts the show. In this show when they talked about destroying New York I realized I had no idea why they wanted to do that. All I could come up with was because it was in the generic villain handbook.
At the end of the day, when the show’s focus pulls away from the main four the show suffers. The villains are a little too generic, and can’t really carry the show. I’m left wanting something better, because this show is capable of something better. It just isn’t delivering.