“The Defenders” Premiere Recap: “The H Word”


After years of teasing and four television series later, The Defenders has finally arrived on Netflix.

“The H Word,” is the perfect reintroduction into this Marvel Universe, touching base with each of the characters while setting up the forces which will eventually draw them together. It’s rare for the premiere episode of a show to be so engrossing, but The Defenders perfectly balances a mix of exposition and plot as the chess board for this season is officially laid out.

“The H Word,” doesn’t start in New York but actually travels to Cambodia to check in with Danny and Colleen Wing before heading back to the city. Sharper eyed viewers will recognize Elektra immediately in the opening scene, engaged in hand to hand combat with a man she eventually kills. It’s a quick fight scene but the dying man tells Danny that the fight for The Hand is now in New York. The two make haste to go home however on the plane it’s revealed that many of the monks of K’un  Lun have been killed once Danny abandoned his post as the Iron Fist, and the guilt is driving him to stop the evil organization for good.

Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/Netflix

Also returning to the city is a fresh out of prison, Luke Cage. Foggy Nelson greets him as he exits Seagate, in the first of what will be many crossovers between the four shows, and reveals that he is now working at Jeri Hogarth’s law firm. “The H Word,” wastes no time re-establishing his romantic relationship with Claire, and his friendship with Misty Knight who comes knocking with a new case. While Luke is ready to get back to work taking down Mariah and Shades, she has news about a recent string of mysterious deaths that have all been surrounded by the same circumstances. She suggests he uses his status as “Harlem’s Hero,” to help a teenage boy who has lost both of his siblings rather than use his strength to track down criminals. Unfortunately, once Luke tracks the man down, it seems that he’s already gotten a new benefactor who probably has much darker intentions.

While Luke is more than ready to get back to work as a hero, Jessica Jones is avoiding even taking simple private eye cases. She’s spending all day at the bar after the events of Kilgrave with only Trish coming close to dragging her out of the darkness. When she’s approached by a woman and her daughter searching for her missing husband, she immediately shoots them down for their cliché answers to her questions. However, a creepy phone call insisting Jessica not take the case is enough to pique her interest and have her start sniffing around. She finds an apartment building in the shady side of town which leads to a scene eerily familiar to her entering a hotel room in Season One of her titular series. While she doesn’t find the missing man, John Raymond, she does finds boxes of explosive devices and no other immediate clues. Whatever is going on, it feels like Jessica has only kicked the hornet’s nest in “The H Word.”

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Like the snarky detective, Matt Murdock is also unwilling to embrace his vigilante side despite his clear impulse to go outside and stop crime. Channeling his inner hero into his work, he has become an impressive lawyer fighting for the little man. After winning a major case, he is congratulated by Karen Page who asks for a statement over coffee which plants the seeds for their eventual reconciliation. On Daredevil, Karen always represented the light which makes sense why Matt was always drawn to her but the return of Elektra will undoubtedly throw a wrench in any romantic plans the two make throughout the season.

“The H Word,” also gives the audience their first look at Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra and what drives her to wage this war on New York. She is spurred into villainous action after receiving a fatal diagnosis and given only a few weeks to live. It’s not clear why The Hand is unable to cure her yet but it’s clear that leader, Madame Gao, not only respects her but fears her. Weaver plays the role with utmost confidence, as she floats from scene to scene with the perfect combination of malice, sympathy, and strength. She’s a dying woman who is pragmatic in the face of insurmountable odds but also desperate to achieve her potentially last success.

Next: Marvel’s The Defenders will assemble this Friday on Netflix

Most of the premiere is done perfectly, with the exception of Elektra’s return which loses the surprise punch it could have had if Netflix had chosen to hide Elodie Yung’s involvement in the series. Nevertheless, her scenes are still fun to watch and her relationship with Alexandra already looks to be a complex villainous team up. While the core four may not have united yet, “The H Word,” gives them all a significant reason to start investigating. The episode closes with an earthquake that sends the city into hysteria and settles with Matt’s face, full of fear and confusion, as the police lights flash across his face. With Alexandra’s plan officially in motion, it’s only a matter of time before these heroes work together to finally take down The Hand.