A Defenders Review: ¬†Emotional Tension is Missing (Spoilers Galore)

The Hand as a criminal organization is pretty rad in Daredevil and Iron Fist, but in Defenders they suck pretty hard and are bad cannon fodder for the newly assembled team.

Sigourney Weaver – I’m not using her name in the show, because as we find out, she has many names.  Outside of a scene where she subdues Elektra, she is the least scary villain we’ve seen in the Hell’s Kitchen MCU.  It is a waste of her talent, because she could have been so much more ruthless and insidious.  There is no superpower or threat that backs up her authority.

The team-up — Okay, we get that Matt struggles with actually enjoying the DD life and wants nothing more than to cling to normalcy.  Jessica doesn’t really play well with others.  How they all end up at Midland Circle at the same time is not very well scripted except in how Jessica gets there.  Danny is a little too impulsive going on his own.  Murdock tailing Jessica I can kind of get behind, but Luke randomly showing up is the biggest stretch.  This needed more work because it is the crucial plot point in the story.

The fingers of the Hand-

these behind-the-scenes ruthless immortals are a joke in Defenders.  Bukido does not seem like he belongs in the same room.  He seems like he should be a lower tier bad guy, and it’s sad that it takes Misty, Colleen, and Claire to take him out, when it really should be a Colleen Wing badassery moment.  

Guy that speaks Japanese-I honestly don’t remember his name because he is so unmemorable except that he likes to speak a different language often and disembowel rare bears.  Nobu was ten times better than this guy.

Madame Gao- Is the best villain in this whole group and is wasted playing second fiddle to Ripley (Sigourney).  The unsanswerable seems to be how is Gao this powerful force-wielding old lady, but everyone else is just good at karate.  My hope is that she survives to play behind the scenes bad guy again.  Gao is the only one-even underutilized as she is-that seems like she should be leading the bad guys.

Remember the tension between her and Kingpin, the way she plays up her age and speaking a different language that she uses intermediaries and such.  Gao deserved to have better characterization more loyal to her DD and Iron Fist portrayals.

Misty Knight and the NYPD precinct – Anyone else feel like sidelining all of the super friends’ friends was just asking to put them in harm’s way?  Instead they were safe in the precinct.  No stealthy ninjas to capture them for the end game.  And Misty has a wasted role as well.  There is no detective work in her role, no revelations she stumbles across.  Her only function in the entire show is to ask questions and not get any answers.  

To be fair, the actress did the best with what she was given, but the Misty character serves no purpose other than to wander around and get threatened with her job repeatedly.  It would have been better if she could have taken a hard line with any of the superfriends, or been fired, or gone rogue.  She spent 8 episodes doing nothing.  That is a waste.

Karen Page-another wasted opportunity is Karen Page safe and sound as a reporter who can’t report and stowed away in the NYPD.  The writers missed a golden opportunity to pit Matt’s feelings for Karen against his feelings for Elektra.  She is never in danger and so there is no emotional tension for the Daredevil character.  Karen also doesn’t go rogue for the story of a lifetime.  She’s out on the shelf and it’s not a good place for her to be.

Trish Talk – Trish and Karen have a brief moment talking, but otherwise have their journalistic instincts thoroughly repressed and neither encounter any threat or danger.  There is none of that tenacity or search for truth they have in DD and Jessica Jones.  That role is given to Jessica herself who is the only curious person of the bunch.

Mister White Hat- This is the least memorable of the Hand.  There is virtually no tie to the Harlem vibe we felt in Luke Cage or his potential African influence, no sense of his power, and in that regard I felt like Defenders was nearly entirely whitewashed.  This is the guy that is in charge of Africa and is supposed to have some powers, but is pretty easily subdued (off camera I might add) and killed.  There is no character development.  At least with Gao and Bukido we have seen where they came from or at least what they do in other shows.  What’s sad to me is he is never given a chance to be anything but a token black villain with a very minor role.  And the white hat gimmick has no sense of mystery or threat.  He casts it aside at the earliest opportunity.

Other missed opportunities:

So we’re just going to let Claire ignore that Luke has basically hooked up with half the female cast.  He’s such a nice guy he’s given a pass.  There’s no tension there.  A perfect brief scene would be them getting it on and Luke being a little too rough and Claire getting a little banged up.  Then Luke could be like, “I really like Claire, but at least I don’t have to worry about hurting Jessica physically.” No?

No tension with Matt and Claire, no tension between Jessica and Claire, no jealousy between Elektra and Karen.  Colleen Wing is continually thrust into a supporting role instead of closer to the action.  Also last time I looked Claire was training with Wing and had some cool hooky claw things, but we see very little action from her. 

There was that scene where Jessica is talking to the architect’s wife and the grandparents are let in upstairs.  This seemed like a perfect opportunity for Sigourney or another of the Hand to pretend to pay their respects and for Jessica to get into a tense staring match.

Pep Talk #1: Procrastinate

I am a notorious procrastinator.  It is a sign of my intelligence, or at least that is what I’ve decided to believe.  I don’t even know if anyone knows I’m notorious, which I guess is the definition of notoriety.  Maybe I’m not well known for it.  But I do it.  You do, too.

So let’s get it out of the way, then, shall we?  Maybe a quick run-down of procrastination habits will help get it out of the way and we can return to being productive.  Of course, there is social media.  If I don’t like, share, and comment on at least a dozen posts several times a day, people will think I’m dead.  And then of course, I must overshare how my day is going, what my kid did, the picture of the food I created, maybe some pictures of my family at their absolute best.  I probably need to read a book, some articles, and watch some TV before I do any work.  I am so multi-talented, I should probably find time to practice guitar, and you know what, I have a regular job I should probably be getting to, so all that procrastination has led to zero productivity.

I have no time.  This is one of the biggest reasons we never get started on the dream project.  If you’re like me, you think of time in hour increments.  If I don’t have a spare hour, I don’t even think about getting to the gym, sitting down to write, or anything else on my coulda-shoulda-woulda list.  But I think if we can get comfortable with 5 minute increments, we can get in the habit of taking advantage of those discrete intervals and setting mini-goals that are attainable in that time frame.

A goal or purpose should consume you and fill your mind with a determination.   I think in many cases, this purpose must be manufactured and built slowly, like a setting a fire in a rain forest.  It can be done, but you have to be meticulous and intentional about building the right environment for success to thrive.

BHAG.  Our BNI area director, James Barber, talks about having a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).  And I’m going to borrow that term and call it my Sasquatch (Scary Audacious Super Quest Universe at the Crap Handler…okay I’m still working on my acronym).  Maybe yeti would be shorter.  I’m trying to think of something big and hairy to tie to the BHAG.  But anyway, you have to come up with something larger than life, something that requires a naivete or foolishness, a confidence, to say that you’re going to do.  It’s not bragging, because you haven’t done it yet, but if you say it and you can continue to say it until it consumes your every thought and continues to daily motivate you to make progress toward that goal, then that is what matters.

It’s not enough to say what you want, you have to say what you are, what you will accomplish.  There can be no doubt in the statement.  You must say it loud and proud.

“I am going to be an international bestselling fantasy and scifi writer whose books change hearts and minds through the clever humor and mystery contained therein.”

There you go.  Let’s do this!

Or…maybe it can wait…

Remember This…If You Can.

I watched a Ted Talk on memory a few months back and it has embedded itself, working through my subconscious mind until now.  Joshua Foer is an independent journalist who became interested in writing about a group of people who participated in the US Memory Championships.  He became so infatuated with the topic that he trained himself in the techniques and won the Championship himself in 2006.

If you are a fan of the BBC production, Sherlock, then you may be familiar with the Mind Palace, a memorization technique.  The idea of the Mind Palace has been around since the early Greek philosophers as a concept called the Method of Loci (no, not the Norse trickster god).  It is essentially associating something you want to remember with a place or an image.  To remember multiple things you build a Memory Palace or a house with things in it that you then associate with what you want to remember.

Alex Mullen has recently surpassed Foer’s accomplishments to be the 2-time and current US Memory Champ.  He runs a non-profit that works to disseminate and encourage these types of techniques.  On his website, one of his intro videos shows you how to memorize a list of 20-words.  He does so by walking around his house and inside and associates each word with a different item, and gives a description of the image that he would picture.

I am just at the tip of the iceberg on memory training.  His initial video seemed unnecessarily complicated, but he’s the memory champ, not me.  I took the same list and told a story-kind of like my dreams go where I make a decision and am in a completely different environment, almost like a Rube Goldberg device where one seemingly unrelated thing leads to the next.  Telling the story of those words in a visual way, once I had composed the story (maybe 5 minutes), I was able to fully recall all 20 words.  Amazingly, an hour later, after unrelated work, starting the story, I was able to recall the 20 words again.

I have a lot to learn about memorization, but in a remarkably short time I was able to memorize something fairly random that I had no real reason to memorize other than for the novelty of it.