The last episode and a bit of a mixed bag.
The Defenders s01e08 The Defenders
writers: Lauren Schmidt Hissrich & Marco Ramirez
director: Farren Blackburn
I think theist thing I can say about this particular episode is that your enjoyment will greatly depend on how invested you are in the world they are creating. As should be expected from a last episode, this is all about the culmination of events. Unfortunately, those events that were culminating were the weakest parts of the show for me, and so failed to deliver any real punch. Couple that with a “shocking” final image that likely surprised no one, and I found this to be pretty much a dud. At the same time, I can see how this cold be a nice wrap up if someone did feel invested. Sadly, I didn’t
Spoilers Lurk Below
At the end of the day, this episode centered around the relationship between Matt and Elektra. Understandable, because that is a fairly important relationship in the comics world (even if it feels less important in recent years). Unfortunately, that same relationship is never something that clicked for me in the show. Partly due to my lack of interest in purely crazy-pants Elektra. To use that old rule, I always felt like I was told that this was something important rather than shown it was important. Or, at the very least, it never clicked.
And then there is the whole Hand strategy, which if after seven episodes I still don’t understand what it is other than a hole in the ground with a magic door for reasons, you aren’t going to convince me that the eighth episode dealing with this hole is important. I just don’t care, again because the show never made me care about it.
Throughout this series the only times it really shined was in little moments between characters. Sadly, none of these were on display here. Every time characters were having a moment on screen together it was drenched in “important sauce” drowning out any hint of nuance of subtlety. It turned the show into something between an after school special, and a soap opera, only they both were operating under the tagline of “a very special episode.” Trish and Karen’s talk. Colleen and Claire. Foggy with Luke and Jessica. It just all reeked of heavy-handedness.
To go back to an early point, this felt like it was meant to be a “comic book show.” What I mean by that is that there has been a habit with writers that when something is based on a comic book it excuses bad writing and non-sensical elements. After all, its only a comic book and comic books have bad writing. Basically, it is looking down on the source material while using it as a reason to create something sub-par.
Recently we’ve gotten away from that and used comic book settings as a background for telling a variety of stories. (My favorite example of this is how Captain America: Winter Soldier is essentially a spy movie in the Marvel Universe.) Rather than using the super hero background as an excuse for random bad guys who just want evil, it is how do super powers play a role in shaping some more traditional storylines.
Somewhere in the Defenders, deep down inside, is a crime story. But instead of stopping at featuring a lawyer, a detective, an ex-cop, and a community organizer to tell the story, it expands those roles so that they can also operate as superheroes. Sadly, this version of the Defenders stopped at having superheroes and never really tried to see if this story made sense if they took those powers away.
It doesn’t. And the genre suffers for it.