Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episodes 3 & 4

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Season 1: Episode 3: “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”

We’re into the main story now, which is, Jessica trying to track down Kilgrave in order to prove that Hope is innocent. Trish is also helping, although her way of helping is basically calling Kilgrave out on the radio and getting him to send Officer Sampson (UGH) to kill her. Anyway, he doesn’t but, Jessica does drug Trish to make it seem like she’s dead, which I guess is a thing that we can deal with later, and then she follows Sampson to find where Kilgrave is, but she just finds a creepy room full of pictures of herself.

This leads her to break up with Luke, and we learn, of course, that she killed Luke’s wife Reva, while under Kilgrave’s control. The break up sucks, because they went on a super cute date where they talked about having super powers and had some really hot sex and it’s a bummer that she feels like she can’t be with him until this whole Kilgrave thing gets settled, which is actually totally fair, but also way sucks.

Jessica is on the hunt for Sophentinol, which is a surgical anestesia which would simulate his death and allow him to be held prisoner. So that’s what’s going on there. Oh, also, Jeri is building Hope’s case around the fact that she had a psychotic break, until they can prove that Kilgrave is real and can in fact mind control people.

But hey, we also met Sampson. (UGH)

Season 2: Episode 4: “99 Friends”

OK, so, Jessica’s new directive is to find who’s the one who’s been taking pictures of her, the answer really is crazy heart breaking. Anyway, she’s focused on that, and puts together, with Hogarth, a group of people who are also dealing with Kilgrave having controlled them at some point. She uses their stories to figure out his movements and where she can find him.

All of the stories that Jessica verifies, in addition to having a proper physical description have an air of desperation about them, but there’s nothing quite like the story of the man abandoning his son when Kilgrave decided to enlist him as his chauffer. It’s an amazing turn of writing and acting.

Here’s something I think I might be turned around on, and that’s Sampson and Trish hooking up here. I still don’t like it, but the moments of it, him respecting her decision to wait on the other side of the door, the stories of their childhoods, and eventually, her letting him into the apartment, it plays way better than I initially thought it would.

Other Stuff:

  • This is our first mention of “It’s Patsy” and Trish as Patsy Walker. One of the smartest things done in the Defenders verse so far is incorporating the weird trajectory of comics character Patsy Walker into the character of Trish.
  • Sometimes I wish that the show didn’t have to deal with the Kilgrave stuff, and we could just get a whole episode of Malcolm, Robin and Reuben hanging out in the apartment building. But not really.
  • I really don’t love the super hunting couple that comes after Jessica because her mother died in The Battle of New York. I didn’t like this plotline here or in Heroes: Reborn. However, at least here it’s over quickly and the rest of the show is good. Not so much in Heroes: Reborn. 

Deconstructing Defenders: Jessica Jones Season 1: Episodes 1 & 2

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I waited a day because throughout this week, I had neither the time nor mental space to give Jessica the attention she deserves. This show is so amazing, and I really can’t wait to watch it slowly and really see it and savor it and notice things that I didn’t notice before. But also, I am not super tempted to binge it, because, wow this show is intense, I didn’t even remember how intense.

Episode 1: “AKA Ladies Night”

It is important for me to get it out of the way so that I don’t just babble on about it incoherently. Mike Colter is a stunning ebony god of a man, and I’m not sure what women kind deserved to get him cast as Luke Cage, but I am grateful for him. The scenes that he and Krysten Ritter have in this episode are all smoking hot. And then they go for coffee. (Yes, I understand said metaphor has not yet been introduced.) That scene is really important, because of feminism, and also because of sexiness, and because of shirtless Mike Colter.

Anyway, now onto the important parts of the show, like characters that are not Luke Cage and plot! So, we meet Jessica when she puts a man through her door, then she goes off and gets her job from Jeri Horgath, only to then be approached by the parents of Hope, a young girl who’s disappeared and is acting strangely, Jessica tracks her down, only to learn that Kilgrave, who, clearly has some history with Jessica, is the one who took Hope and brainwashed her. After Jessica rescues her, Hope then, on Kilgrave’s orders, killed her own parents.

Recently, I learned that a pilot of a television show should always be about the day everything  changed. So, that’s a pretty big change. We also meet Trish and Malcolm, the closest thing Jessica has to friends. I love Malcolm, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with him again.

Episode 2: “AKA Crush Syndrome”

The title of this episode refers not to Jessica’s obsession with Luke but to the medical thing that was going on with Kilgrave after he got hit by a bus, something we learn in the episode. It is, however, also an apt description of Jessica’s whole deal with Luke, and I want to talk about that a little bit. (Guys, I love Luke. I know we’re twelve weeks from dealing with his show at this point, but I just think he’s wonderful and that we should all pay a little more attention to him.) Anyway, one of the other women that Luke’s involved with is married, and Jessica tells Luke so. Turns out, that husband didn’t hire Jessica, and he’s coming after Luke, so, Luke and Jessica have a super powered bar fight, and in probably my favorite Luke Cage moment (besides the “n-word speech”) he comes and finds her and demonstrates his super power by taking a buzz saw to his perfect, glorious abs.

Jess is turned on, as are we all.

Meanwhile, Jessica is trying to track down Kilgrave, so that she can prove he exists, that his powers exist and that Hope is innocent. She wants Hogarth to take Hope’s case, and Hogarth isn’t interested, but eventually comes around. (This is Hogarth’s whole character, right there.) Kilgrave, meanwhile, moves into a fancy apartment that is occupied by a family, in a chilling introduction to a character who previously only hung out in the shadows.

It’s a really, really, good scene and David Tennant is really really good in it. Oh, also, Trish and Jessica renew their friendship, we meet Robin and Reuben, and Trish is learning self defense.

Other Things

  • When I first watched the show I was really cognizant of it’s paralells to Veronica Mars, and in fact once attempted to write a whole piece about it. Obviously there’s the noir/PI thing, but there’s also the rape survivor thing, the change in personality due to PTSD thing, the larger conspiracy thing. Jessica does have super strength though, and Veronica does not.
  • In the second episode, when Jessica talks to the ambulance driver who’s kidney’s Kilgrave stole, she says, “God didn’t do this, The Devil did.” I actually said out loud, “No, no, The Devil is the other guy.” I badly cannot wait for Jessica and Matt to meet one another. I think that their guilt complexes might explode the world.

Deconstucting Defenders: Daredevil Season 1: Episodes 11 & 12

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We’re nearing the end of Season 1, and I’m very glad that I made this decision, even if I sometimes sort of forget to watch  the show. Anyway, let’s talk about this week’s episodes!

Episode 11: “The Path of The Righteous”

So Karen kills a guy. I feel like this is an action that doesn’t really get enough consequence. I mean, it’s not even like she kills a random ninja or a henchman or something. She kills Wesley, who’s Fisk’s right hand man and only friend, and she shoots him the face. Maybe they’ll finally address it on The Punisher, but it really doesn’t get adequate follow in the following two episodes or in season 2 that I can remember.

Anyway, other things happen in this episode, like Foggy sleeps with stupid ex Marcy. (Ew) and Matt and Claire have a talk about their what could have been. (SHIP IT SO HARD I HURT INSIDE) and Matt talks to his priest about the nature of The Devil some more, and Fisk weeps at Vanessa’s bedside and Owlsley makes it about himself and Ben gives Karen some advice and oh yeah, Karen kills Wesley.

Oh, also Matt meets Milton, who’s the suit making guy, and asks him to make him a suit that’s a symbol, of some kind. And my heart skipped a beat, because guys, I really love the Daredevil suit.

Anyway, on to that thing where KAREN KILLS WESLEY!!!! It’s a really, really good scene. The acting is probably the best that Deborah Ann Wohl does in the whole series.

Episode 12: “The Ones We Leave Behind”

The death of Ben Urich is something that I’m not sure the show ever will recover from. Losing him as a grounding character loses a lot, and while it’s an understandable story beat, and even a really good mirror to the death of Wesley in the previous episode (both deaths are deeply personal, neither calculated and leave gaping holes on each team.) And while Ben’s final sacrifice for the truth is a noble one, it still feels like a weird and unecessary loose end. Not to mention, this is basically the last time that Karen deals with the fact that she shot a guy.

Fisk meanwhile is scrambling without Wesley and with Vanessa in the hospital and with needing to get his mother to safety. This is exactly how Matt wants him, discombobulated and all, but it’s also a dangerous position to put everyone else in. Matt manages to set fire to Madame Gao’s heroin operation and Owlsley reveals that the cause of Vanessa’s poisoning is himself and Gao together.

Overall, while there’s plenty of emotion in this episode, there isn’t much plot. These episodes both move key parts into place for the finale, but nothing much else goes on. *shrug*

Other Stuff

  • Foggy’s reunion with Bitchy Ex

Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil: Season 1: Episodes 9 & 10

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Episode 9: “Speak Of The Devil”

“There is a gulf between inaction and murder, Matthew.”

Matt’s relationship with his priest is one of my favorite elements of this show and one of the only times I’ve seen that brand of relationship presented with any level of realism. And the fact that it’s in a super hero show about a ninja lawyer is, not great. Anyway, the story that he tells when Matt asks him about the devil is one of my favorite speeches in this show, which does in fact, have many great speeches.

The episode is framed though, with the big fight between Matt and Nobu who are pitted against one another by Fisk, in a hope to take them both out. That’s all well and good and the fight is epic, ending with Matt setting Nobu on fire, but the real reason that this whole thing resonates, is that Fisk killed Mrs. Cardenas to get to Matt. It’s so feelsy and awful.

This leads to a confrontation between Fisk and Matt and it’s as brutal a fight as any we’ve seen so far.

This all leads to the emotional core of the episode where, Karen and Foggy get super drunk and Foggy banging on Matt’s door in a drunken haze and finding him all beat up and leading to the episode that I am not emotionally ready to watch..but I will. For the sake of blogging!

Episode 10: “Nelson V. Murdock”

There is no relationship in the entire MCU that I love the way that I love Foggy and Matt’s. Not Steve and Bucky, not Pepper and Tony, not even Trish and Jessica, who are the only ones who come even close to this one. Every moment between Charlie Cox and Elden Hensen is electric. Their friendship feels so real and lived in and perfect and this episode, with Foggy interrogating Matt about being Daredevil, and flashes back to the early days of their friendship, all of it matters in such a deep way to this story. Foggy’s inability to understand why Matt does what he does, and Matt’s inability to explain it are intrinsically linked. And the performances are insanely good.

The final scene between the two is so heartbreaking and so real and so well, perfect, that I can’t really describe it and it eclipses the rest of the episode for me. Seriously, until this rewatch I forgot that this is also the episode where Owlsley poisons Vanessa, and Karen and Ben find Fisk’s mother. (I hate Karen SO MUCH in that scene. Like so much. She’s basically psychologically torturing that poor woman and Ben.) But those small things really don’t mean as much in the grand scheme of things, as that scene where young Matt and Foggy sit on the steps at Columbia, talking about their upcoming graduation and their future.

And it’s absolutely nothing compared to Matt’s revelation that the first bad guy he chased down was a father sexually abusing his daughter, who’s screams he could no longer ignore. It’s such a brutal, horrifying revelation, it’s what finally breaks Foggy. I know these two make up, but their relationship never recovers from this conversation, not fully, and it’s just, such good writing and really amazing.

Other Stuff:

  • Matt’s super smoothie skills get a work out when he goes to Vanessa’s gallery to get a better feel for who Fisk is. I love the flirting. He’s sooo good at it.
  • “Speak Of The Devil” is probably the second most Catholic hour of secularly made television I’ve ever watched. The most Catholic is “Take This Sabbath Day,” the West Wing episode where Bartlett calls his priest to discuss whether he should commute a death sentence. It is also very good, and you should watch it.
  • I really feel the need to reiterate how much I hate hate HATE Karen’s behavior in “Nelson V. Murdock.” It’s really horrifying and boundary crossing and awful. I mean, I get that she wants the truth, but why keep Ben in the dark? Why go about it in such a horribly manipulative manner? It’s just awful. 
  • In one of the flashbacks, Foggy mentions “That Greek Girl” to Matt. I started giggling, because it’s Elektra, and she’s amazing.

Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil: Season 1 Episodes 7 & 8

Seriously, when I talk about how Daredevil season 1 might be my favorite season of any TV show ever, it’s these two episodes that I point to most.

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Episode 7: “Stick”

In this episode we learn more about Matt’s training as a blind ninja at the hands of Stick, a mysterious blind ninja who wants to enlist him into a war that he gives no description of. Stick came to Matt at the behest of the nun’s who were raising him, and immediately began to train him in the ways of The Blind Ninja when he was little.

Unfortunately after an incident with a craft project, Stick realized that Matt wasn’t going to be a good soldier because of his emotions, or something and abandoned him. Now it’s 20 years later and Matt’s pissed as hell when Stick shows up again. Stick is hunting down a black sky, which in this case is a little kid that Nobu is bringing in. Nobu also gets hinted at in his “immortal ninja-ness.”

Anyway, Matt agrees to help Stick as long as no one gets killed, which of course, Stick agrees to, except for you know the whole killing a child thing, which Matt then severs ties with him for. Black Sky and Stick’s war are going to come back big in season 2, and I assume in Iron Fist and The Defenders, but you know, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before.

The Karen and Foggy half of the episode focuses on them finding the guys who broke up Mrs. Cardenas apartment and Foggy joining up with Ben and Karen’s quest to find out the truth about Union Allied. While Matt’s quest to expose Fisk, and this story eventually do dovetail quite nicely, and I actually love all of Stick stuff, I do see that this starts the problem with season 2. Daredevil wants to be a serious crime drama, and in many ways, succeeds at that, the problem is that a serious crime drama can’t coexist with a show about a mystical war between good ninjas and evil ninjas. Both shows are great! But it causes tonal whiplash, and makes the whole thing feel a good deal sloppier than it needs to.

Episode 8: “Shadows In the Glass”

This episode is so good that it gives me chills to even think about it. Wilson Fisk’s back story is crazy well executed. The first thing we see is Fisk waking up to the view of “Rabbit In A Snowstorm” and he begins his day, with clock like precision he eats, gets dressed and looks in the mirror, to see rather than the large behemoth of a man that we see, he sees a young boy covered in blood. It’s so shocking and so good.

The flashbacks hinge on Fisk’s father, who was monstrously abusive to his son and wife. Wilson snaps one day while his father beats his mother and beats his father’s brains in with a hammer. This moment of ultra violence is shot not as a triumph or a horror, but as a simple fact. Vanessa comforts Wilson about this actions, he was child, and she decides to stand by him, as he goes public with his crusade to “save” Hell’s Kitchen.

Meanwhile, Matt learns about Foggy and Karen and Ben’s plan. He yells at them about how dangerous it is, but they don’t back down. He puts on the mask and talks to Ben about Fisk, and Ben agrees to write about him, but it’s too late, Fisk has managed to beat them to the punch so to speak.

Other Stuff

  • I don’t have much here, but I am glad these two episodes lined up with each other. Both expose the pasts and critical moments for Matt and Fisk, which helps the two sides of a coin narrative and the cycle of violence theme. If Stick had stuck with Matt, he’d have become a soldier of The Chaste rather than a rogue agent of chaos, curb a bit of the violence that he feeds into, but a lot of people would suffer for that loss. Fisk has also chosen to control his violence in a system, but that violence cannot be contained, it explodes.

Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil Season 1 Episodes 5 & 6

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, if you were celebrating! I assume that you’re watching

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Episode 5: “World On Fire” 

I remember calling this, “the shipping episode” as it’s divided pretty clearly into a Matt and Claire section, a Foggy and Karen section and a Fisk and Vanessa section. It is, also, however one of those kind of weak filler episodes that all of these shows have. It’s about moving the pieces to get to the next spot, which is naratively necessary, but not always super compelling.

After her kidnapping, Claire and Matt talk about his powers, his “world on fire” vision, she tells him she thinks he’s skirting too close to the edge of darkness, which mostly just pisses him off, but she’s probably right. Matt asks her to stay with him until he settles things with The Russians and Fisk, she agrees but is not thrilled about it.

Meanwhile, Matt and Foggy take on the case of Mrs. Cardenas, a woman who’s being pushed out of her apartment building. Matt goes to Officer Brett Mahoney (YAY!) and asks for information on the landlord, while Foggy and Karen go to the big old fancy law firm that the guys decided not to work with and Foggy dismantles his ex girlfriend. Karen and Foggy are then adorable, fixing up the apartment and eating food together, and they’re perfect, the end.

Fisk and Wesley tell Vladimir that it was the man in the mask that killed Anatoly, which sets him down a path, but also, they wind up blowing him up while Fisk and Vanessa have dinner, and he strikes a new deal with Owlsley, Nobu and Madame Gao. Matt beats up some people to get more information about Fisk, but doesn’t really get much of anything.

Like I said, pieces moving.

Episode 6: “Condemned” 

“We’re not so different, you and I,” the villain says to the hero. It’s a little bit of a cliche, but when you’re doing the groundwork to set up an epic rivalry, having a protagonist and antagonist who mirror one another isn’t the worst thing you can do, and this episode actually executes the trope pretty well, when, after Fisk has half of Hell’s Kitchen blown up, Matt takes Vladimir to a warehouse and fixes him up, trying to get more information on Fisk.

In the end the hero and the villain wind up talking over a walkie-talkie, Fisk trying to stall in order to get enough false evidence together to make the explosions look like they’re Matt’s fault. It’s a wonderfully well done scene, just, you know, a little hacky. Meanwhile, Ben URICH (I said Carson last week because I’m an insane person? Who knows…) is trying to figure out what’s actually happening, Foggy is in the hospital and Karen is freaking out because they can’t reach Matt.

Claire is also freaking out because her kind of boyfriend is trying to save the life of the man who kidnapped and beat her, and also that whole explosion thing. But it is nice for Matt to have someone to talk to.

Other Things

  • Matt’s super smell comes into play here, he explains that he can smell copper in the air when Claire’s stitches open up. Also he explains his “world on fire” super vision, and it’s really cool, and actually one of my favorite scenes in the show.
  • Foggy and Karen FOREVA!!!! I’m still a little mad at the show for pushing her and Matt together, because they’re amazing.I mean, I get it, but it still sucks.
  • Vanessa brings a gun to her date with Fisk, because she is a stone cold badass.
  • I know there’s a lot less Claire from here on out, and I’m braced for it, but it’s still a bummer.

 

Deconstructing Defenders: Daredevil Season 1: Episodes 3 & 4

Who’s ready for week two of Daredevil and I am no less enthused about this television show than I was before. It’s just really, really good.

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Episode 3: “Rabbit In A Snowstorm”

The final scene of this episode, where Wilson and Vanessa meet, is probably my favorite scene in all of The MCU. Truly. I remember being completely blown away by from the moment I saw it at NYCC in 2014, but watching it again, knowing how everything plays out, it’s still absurdly powerful and Vincent D’Onofrio is so good.

Anyway, there are other things that happen in this episode. Turk sells a gun to one of Fisk’s henchmen, and it backfires. (Oh, Turk, so inept.) The guy then winds up beating his mark to death with a bowling ball and Matt and Foggy wind up defending him, they’re recruited by Wesley.

Before that, Matt has another conversation with his priest, who is trying to build a rapport with him. Matt is hesitant. This is tough but I love this relationship so much. Also, confidentiality is a big theme of this episode, but so is the way the world works and is changing.

Which brings us to the wonderful Ben Carson! I was overjoyed to see him. We get his whole deal, he’s an old school reporter, who’s editor, Ellison won’t let do his thing. Also, he’s dying of cancer and Karen meets him in a diner to talk about her problem.

Karen’s problem at the moment is that she’s been offered a deal to never talk about what happened to her again. It’s a lot of money, but she’s not sure that she wants to do it. She goes to see Danny’s widow and she tells her to take the money. She does but she’s still heading to meet up with Ben.

Foggy and Matt defend the murderer and get him off. Then Matt beats the snot out of him and gets Fisk’s name and that begins a whole new chapter of awesome.

Episode 4: “In the Blood”

That flashback to Anatoly and Sergei in prison is terrifying, particularly the bone shiv, but OMG, it’s just so brutal and it’s not even the most violent moment in this episode.

My favorite moment in this episode? Well, it’s not a moment, it’s more like a whole scene of shirtless Matt getting patched up by Claire and them flirting. The chemistry between these two is crazy crazy palpable. Like, insane. I love it so much. And they care so much about each other. He explains that he can tell when people are lying. And of course, when she’s nabbed by the Russians he goes after her. Which leads to another favorite moment (I have a lot of favorites this time around.) When Matt is rescuing Claire from the russians and she just starts laughing maniacally. Like, it’s so good, just amazing.

Foggy is barely in this episode, but he’s annoyed that they have no money or office equipment. Luckily, KAREN TO THE RESCUE.

Karen and Ben are meeting and he explains that everyone else who knows about Union Allied is now dead. Karen decides to track down the paper trail on the physical elements of the company, which leads her to an auction of office equipment, which she buys for Nelson & Murdock. Foggy is pleased and it is adorable. Also, Ben decides to help Karen tell her story, even though she’s not supposed to talk about what happened at all. But you know it’s Karen.

That brings me to my absolute favorite plot line in this episode. Wilson and Vanessa’s first date. I love this relationship. I love these scenes, I love Vanessa as a character, I love the way he is with her. I especially love that he smashes Anatoly’s head in a car door for embarrassing him in front of her.

Other Things

  • When Ben mentions Karen’s past I wrote in big capital letters PORN. I am glad they’ve decided to just drop that detail of Karen’s life in favor of “investigator girl”
  • Matt’s got no new powers this week, but he explains the lie detector to Claire, and while he and Foggy are in court, he hears Wesley’s watch and ID’s him.
  • Joker and Harley wish that they were Wilson and Vanessa. I’m just saying.
  • I love Claire. I love her so much. I want a show that’s just her being the best. Can we get that?
  • OK, I’m definitely giving “the cycle of violence” the win for theme. At least for season 1. Season 2 is definitely still “ninja fights” until I can officially revisit it.