Marvel’s Defenders: episode 5 nerdy spots & Easter Eggs

Has it been five episodes already? Here's the next instalment in our day-by-day Marvel's Defenders reviews. Spoilers...

The long-awaited Marvel-Netflix show has finally dropped, and once again we’re doing daily write ups of every episode, highlighting the influences, in-jokes, reference points and Easter eggs we spotted, as well as a few thoughts on the show itself.

As usual feel free to discuss whether you’re watching along or you’ve seen it all, but please don’t spoil future episodes for anyone in the comments.

This episode begins, as usual, with the fight scene promised by the previous episode. To be honest I’m a little bored of seeing the various Marvel Netflix shows doing that thing where they repeatedly confront the main villain only for the fight to end in a stalemate, so at least this time around there are five villains for them to take care of.

Speaking of which, the fifth finger of the Hand was indeed confirmed as Bakuto, the villain from Iron Fist. Ah well. It’s not like there were any particularly iconic characters who could’ve slotted into that role, so at least it’s someone with a bit of history to the established ensemble. The only question now is whether he survives to Iron Fist Season 2 or whether Colleen ends up getting her Highlander moment with him.

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This episode does, after all, draw the focus back to the supporting characters, forcing the team to go and collect everyone who’s ‘important’ to them to protect them from The Hand. Personally, I enjoyed seeing who DIDN’T make the cut. Apparently Joy and Ward Meachum aren’t worth much concern from Danny. It does make me wonder why the hell they’re downplaying Claire’s involvement in all of these shows, though. She knows Foggy, Karen and potentially Malcom (I forget) as well as Jessica and Matt, but she’s being treated like she only appeared in Iron Fist and Luke Cage. What’s going on with her!? I was expecting big things, not least because she’s Rosario frickin’ Dawson, but they’re finding new and boring ways to keep her sidelined.

I did enjoy the meeting of Hand members, though, and we get to learn a little bit of the organisation’s history: formed in K’un L’un, they’re an order of mystical bastards who tamper with achieving immortal with the use of “the substance” and were exiled as a result. They want to get home, and they want to do it without surrendering their immortality. Hey, if you’re going to be evil, that sounds like a good reason to me.

I was also gripped by the talk of Danny Rand’s destiny. We can all agree that the Iron Fist somehow ended up being possessed by a guy who sucks hard, but that in itself makes this interesting. The Hand need him! Maybe they’re going to make it part of the story that he sucks. Not only does this episode give us the immortal piece of meta-commentary, “You’re the dumbest Iron Fist yet!”, it also has Stick telling Matt he’s going to have to take Danny’s place in leading the war against The Hand, which had me practically quivering with joy – not least because Matt wants no part of it.

Despite that, Matt went full Daredevil in extracting information from their captured Hand leader, White Hat (kudos to the other Hand guys for assuming he could take care of himself, even if he couldn’t; eye rolls to whomever at Marvel-Netflix apparently didn’t pause to think that killing the black guy who’d barely spoken six sentences was a good idea.) I’m not sure how I feel about seeing him put the suit on again. I think I feel bad. I feel bad because it is bad. He looks like a cosplayer. And then he instantly does some torturing, which is also bad. Let’s be honest, he looked cooler in a business suit with a scarf masking his face.

Easter egg-wise, we’re still thin on the ground for the most part. I did like seeing that Karen still writes out of Ben Urich’s office, which is recognisable from the news reports about “The Incident” on the wall.

I am, however, rolling my eyes that the macguffin for this series is apparently “The substance”. There’s a thing that happens in comic book adaptations where something has a bad name or concept or idea attached to it and viewers go “oh, that’s stupid so it’s probably from the comics.” Let me tell you, if it was from the comics it would have at least been called “Substance X”. In the comics, The Hand’s immortality is the result of like, spells and stuff. Like proper, self-respecting mystical ninjas. At least they got one thing right: this show really could use some substance.

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That said… in all honesty, I still enjoyed this episode, even if the plot is threatening to go nowhere fast. Or arguably, at all. The strength of this show is all in its characters, and the more we hang out with them the happier I am. On one level it’s absolutely maddening that the story is essentially sending characters to and from different rooms to have expository conversations and the one guy actually doing anything is Stick.

But on another level I’m thinking “ooh, Foggy is in the same room as Trish! Danny and Luke are getting Chinese food together!” so I guess, if nothing else, I’m the right kind of sucker to be the target audience.

And hey, that final scene with Elektra was really great. Her falling asleep on Matt’s bed with the vague suggestion that she’s getting her memories back. I want nothing more than for her to get her memories back and switch sides to be with Matt, just like they planned. Only three episodes to go now, though, so maybe they’ll pack all that in.

Huh. Has it really been five episodes already?

It feels a lot longer.