Marvel’s Defenders: episode 6 nerdy spots & Easter Eggs

Here's number six in our episode-by-episode look at the Marvel/Netflix Defenders miniseries. 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.

Alas, poor Alexandra! Though admittedly we did not know her that well, Horatio. Vaguely sketched though her plans were, even Sigourney Weaver at her most disinterested was enough to make the leader of the Hand sort of compelling. But now she’s dead and we didn’t actually get to see any indication of why she was threatening or powerful, and probably never will.

To be honest, I mainly miss her great thudding attempts to drop hints that she’s really old into conversation, like when she says things like “All cities fall, like Pompeii. It was so nice BEFORE THE ERUPTION. YOU SEE, I WAS THERE ALIVE MANY THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO, DID I MENTION I AM IMMORTAL?” just in case anyone nearby doesn’t realise. How about, TV people, next time you want to convey someone is many thousands of years old, you show them doing things like struggling to use a digital watch, or accusing the TV of being a witch. You know what I’d be like if I’d been alive a thousand years? Perpetually freaked out, is what. My grandparents died unable to program a VCR without written instructions and they were invented within their lifetimes.

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Where was I again? Oh right, reviewing Defenders.

Anyway. Maybe Alexandra’s death worked for you. Personally, I found it – and Elektra’s sudden reawakening-with-all-her-memories-but-also-evil-now – a little anticlimactic. Isn’t Danny Rand supposed to be the guy who destroys The Hand? Is anyone going to be left by the time he gets to them!? Unless Alexandra comes back, which is at least possible even though they apparently used the last of their resurrection substance on the completely useless, borderline insane and frequently mutinous Harold Meachum over in Iron Fist season 1 before he fell off a building anyway. Bad decision, guys.

Where was I again? Don’t tell me, don’t tell me. Right, yes. Defenders.

As usual, this episode more than gets by on the strength of its character interactions. The sequence with Matt and Jessica investigating made me desperate to see more of that pairing, especially when she rolled her eyes at Matt’s faked blindness. Those two characters and actors have incredible chemistry together. Likewise, Luke and Danny buddying up was great to see, even if it should’ve happened ages ago. Even the dynamic between the Hand’s various, er, fingers (man, this show has more fists and fingers than the government’s list of banned extreme sex acts) was fun to see. Alexandra and Gao reminiscing over the times they tried to kill each other was a great little moment in particular.

I do fail to see, however, what Danny’s objection is to being sent away from New York. Okay, it’s his destiny that he destroys The Hand, but he’s also the one thing that can make their plans work, so he really should just get out of dodge for a while. For most of the episode I was thinking “He’s lucky Stick hasn’t tried to cut his head off already”, and then that’s exactly what happened. The scene with the others ganging up on Danny was particularly odd, because I got the sense we were supposed to side with him and think they were paranoid and irrational, but, er, I didn’t.

Although to give the writers credit, maybe we’re seeing Danny turn over a new leaf now that he’s seen what happens when he abandons his post. At any rate, he’d better actually fulfil his destiny now because otherwise he’s going to look like an idiot. I mean, the sane ending to this series is that they put Danny and Colleen on a plane, send them to a remote beach, and wait for Alexandra to die of natural causes.

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Oh, and I’ll try to stop going on about how the conceit of a shared universe is breaking the Defenders story more than adding to it, but I’m sorry, Luke Cage is an invincible man fighting mystical undead ninjas in a world where there was recently an alien invasion. Why would he be incredulous about anything, least of all a dragon? Once you’ve seen whatever the hell that giant levitating Chitauri space-eel thingy was, why is a dragon such a stretch?

I’m going to say it: the Netflix shows should officially get a divorce from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’re old enough to accept that the movies and TV universes both love us very much but they just don’t make each other happy anymore. And we’ll still get to see the TV universe every other weekend, and they’ll give us extra big cheques at Christmas and be there every parents’ evening except the ones that clash with the their stepson’s football training, APPARENTLY. THANKS FOR NOTHING DAD. WE PREFER THE FLARROWVERSE ANYWAY. THEY HAVE MUSICAL EPISODES AND DO YOU KNOW HOW OFTEN PEOPLE GET A RUSTY METAL SPIKE SHOVED IN THEIR EYESOCKETS THERE?



Sorry, yes, Defenders. We’re almost done, I promise. Nerdy spots:

Danny suggesting they team up – “Luke Cage and The Iron Fist!” – is as close as we’re going to get to the words “Power Man and Iron Fist” being uttered on this show, not least because Power Man was always a bad codename that made him sound like some kind of electricity repair man. This is the first time their chemistry has really worked to its full potential, and I’m sort of disappointed that not much came of it. The idea that Luke and Danny might strike out on their own was properly exciting, but a perpetual problem with the Netflix shows is that they think hinting at a story is the same as actually telling it. So they can say “yeah, that was our nod to Luke and Danny’s comicbook partnership” without actually going to the trouble of… say… actually crafting that story.

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Genuine nerdy reference: Luke’s reading the New York Bulletin, which is the paper Karen works for, and one of the Marvel Universe’s newspapers that ISN’T the Daily Bugle. It’s even shown up in Agents Of SHIELD (#itsallconnected). Personally, I’m fond of when Marvel uses the Daily Globe as the Bugle alternative, since its name is a sly tip of the hat towards the newspaper a certain red-and-blue clad superhero is a mild-mannered reporter for.

And hey, the piano music Matt plays is the Daredevil theme tune! Which suggests his hearing is SO strong that it can even hear past the fourth wall.

I haven’t yet mentioned that Stick died, and I sort of don’t believe Stick’s death is going to, er, stick. He probably won’t be back this series but if we don’t see him in Daredevil Season 3, at least, I will eat various hats. In any case, Stick’s death can be seen in Daredevil #189 (1982)

Oh, and one geeky thing that comes out of Alexandra’s death: Elektra is now leading the Hand, which she did for a time in the comics. Or rather, a shape-shifting alien that was impersonating her did in the comics. But we didn’t learn that it was an alien for a long time so it sort of counts. Er, anyway, you can find the truncated version of that story – alien and all – in New Avengers #31 (2007).

Two more to go. No clue where this show’s going at this point. So far I’ve been enjoying the character interactions but the plot stands up to absolutely no scrutiny. I’m quite glad that we’re going to see what’s in the giant hole from Daredevil Season 2. Presumably whatever caused that big earthquake. Some kind of ninja demon, perhaps? Your guess, at this point, is as good as mine.

Read James’ review of the previous episode here.

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