The Defenders: Take Shelter review S1, Ep5

Take Shelter marked an interesting direction as The Defenders moved past its halfway stretch. With only eight more episodes to go, there’s not a lot of time to sit around and this episode advanced the main story line nicely.

Picking up from last episode, the still not-named Defenders have a throw down with Elektra and The Hand lieutenants.  The action was clean as Director Uta Briesewitz gave the fights enough room to breathe without extensive close-ups. After a slower previous episode it was great to just have some brainless action for a bit.

Matt kept his focus right up until Elektra re-entered the fray. At that point he went love interest before (Super)Bros and desperately tried to break The Hand’s brainwashing. Maybe he got through to Elektra as she knocked out Murakami (Yutaka Takeuchi). This didn’t sit well with Alexandra who warned her puppet she’s no use to her if she doesn’t follow Hand orders. Elodie Yung is really nailing that intense, dead inside stare.

While battered, the Defenders made some headway in capturing Hand lieutenant Sowande (Babs Olusanmokun). Like any good mid-boss, Sowande wasn’t intimidated and started making threats to Stick and the gang. Maybe instead of trying to interrogate him, they should be checking in on their loved ones?

Fortunately they get the hint and start rounding up their pals. Matt convinces Karen to come along and Cage gets Claire while Danny and Colleen are on lookout. The Hand is one step ahead though and use Claire as a lure to get Iron Fist via Colleen. Or at least that was Bakuto’s plan. Colleen and Danny might have been the only people who legit thought he was dead. You can’t just kill cool villains off. With Killgrave gone and Kingpin in jail, the Netflix series isn’t overflowing with formidable bad guys.

The Defenders - Take Shelter review - Misty Knight and Luke Cage

Bakuto is in his full Darth Vader pitch mode trying to get Colleen to give in to her hate and join the Dark Side Hand. Snazzy suits aside, I kind of wish some characters — Iron Fist, Bakuto — would wear actual costumes to further stand out.

I liked the idea of an equal partnership with The Hand leaders as opposed to all the minorities and largely Asian ninja clan reporting to a white woman. Alexandra might be cold-blooded, but I don’t see how she would have these strong-willed characters catering to her whims.

Or maybe it’s just that Murakami is so cool he doesn’t even bother speaking English that makes him seem like a cooler leader? Either way, Alexandra is starting to annoy her subordinates and she might not be in charge much longer.

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With the friends and allies in take shelter mode, we get the first official meeting of Danny & Colleen and Misty Knight. Daughters of the Dragon bay-bay!

Jess is a little late in getting to Trish before The Hand attack. Briesewitz sets up one of the best backdrops we’ve seen in any Marvel Netflix series yet with a fight in a beautifully lit reception hall. The only problem was it ended so soon. Daredevil (in costume!) arrives in time to save Trish.

Every team has that standout personality. With the Avengers, it’s Iron Man. The Guardians has Rocket and with The Defenders it’s definitely Jessica Jones. Krysten Ritter brings such a welcome element to this series and I love how she’s keeping Jessica just as abrasive and cynical with Daredevil and Iron Fist as she is with Trish and Malcolm.

The Defenders - Take Shelter review - Elektra

While all the sidekicks — Foggy, Karen, Malcolm, Trish, Claire, Colleen and Misty — size each other up, Daredevil finally shares with the others about Eleketra’s second lease on life. With no trace of irony and full awareness of a dude dress like a red devil, Iron Fist’s puffy jacket looks silly. Can we find him a costume already? Is Melvin that busy?

Stick makes Sowande lose his head for trying to capture Danny and Elektra goes out for a stroll eventually settling back to a familiar location — Matt’s bed.

Take Shelter has The Defenders on the right path as we’re already closing in on the home stretch. No time for any episodes off and this one delivered some solid action and terrific character moments.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/Netflix

Previous Episode: Royal Dragon
Next Episode: Ashes, Ashes

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