The Defenders Recap: “Royal Dragon”


Escaping from The Hand after that stunning battle, the four heroes find themselves taking refuge at a nearby Chinese restaurant named after the episode, “Royal Dragon”.

After some casual bribery by Danny, the group is allowed to take refuge as well as finally grab some dinner while they discuss their next move. While they may have helped each other escape from the clutches of the hand, the four are far from friends and the majority of the episode is spent trying to distinguish whether they can even trust each other.

At the restaurant, each character gets their first opportunity to size the other up. Danny witnesses Jessica’s super strength first hand when he sees her easily move a cabinet in front of the door while Luke is confused as to how Matt is able to “smell neon”. Not sure what to make of their companions, Luke and Jessica come together just to marvel at what a weird mess they’ve gotten themselves into before sitting down for a dysfunctional dinner.

Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/Netflix

“Royal Dragon,” is full of fun energy just watching the four Defenders finally sit together in a room but Krysten Ritter gets to have the most fun as Jessica. Her quick wit and sarcasm make for the perfect foil against the rest of the group and their current situation. She rolls her eyes at the ridiculous names like, “The Hand,” “The Chaste,” as well as Danny’s description of his powers. While she is the most entertaining of the team, she also gets to flex her detective skills by letting Matt know she’s aware of his alter ego. He initially sees it as a threat, but she appeases him by letting him know they’re both there for answers and she has no interest in releasing his identity to the rest of the group despite him stealing her scarf. This moment of camaraderie is enough to make Matt take off said scarf and finally reveal himself to the group despite his initial hesitations.

This newfound group has Alexandra a bit on edge and wary of their potential to be a major thorn in her side. With her maternal/master relationship with Elektra flourishing in “Royal Dragon,” she approaches another finger of the hand for help with dealing with these heroes. Murakami is introduced as the only Japanese leader of the Hand, and he is clearly going to mean trouble for everyone down the line. Even Alexandra regards him with an air of caution as they chat, and he doesn’t pay her the respect that the leader of The Hand would expect by now.

Back at the restaurant, things have gone a bit south with the arrival of Stick. He pledges his loyalty to fighting alongside the Iron Fist, but Jessica isn’t exactly ready to sign up for an age-old war. While Stick carries an air of authority which makes the others inclined to listen to his mentorship, Jessica decides to take her leave knowing that the situation is a far past what she wants to be dealing with. Despite Luke’s pleas for her to stay on with the group she takes her leave to go back to get answers her way for her clients. That leaves only three, and Matt isn’t exactly ecstatic to be reunited with Stick after the events of last season of Daredevil.

Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/Netflix

Heading home for a drink and to delete the pictures from the archives she took earlier, Jessica realizes it’s been the same person signing all of these business contracts since 1820. It’s a turning point for her in, “Royal Dragon,” and the private eye heads over to the Raymond’s only to find out that The Hand has been keeping an eye over the family.

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Musing over why she’s the only one left who doesn’t know karate, she attempts to reason with the thug to leave the grieving family alone. However, she’s interrupted by orders coming through the radio in Japanese, and Jessica slams the guy’s head through a window until he translates the message for her.

Things aren’t going well at the restaurant ever near the end of “Royal Dragon,” now that Alexandra has found the group. In exchange for Danny, she promises that The Hand will simply take him and leave rather than let her operatives reign free on the street. Danny has no interest in helping her though, and the group is confronted with another tense battle from Elektra. Luckily, the show’s greatest detective throws a car through the window to knock out the assassin before joining the other four on their side. “Who missed me?” she remarks as The Defenders officially assemble as a unified team, promising a united front against The Hand.

Everyone gets their chance to shine in, “Royal Dragon,” but Jessica is the clear star of the episode. Finn Jones is still the weakest link in The Defenders, but he does get a chance to play the boyish optimistic version of his character that shined in the first season of Iron Fist. 

Next: The Defenders Recap: “Worst Behavior”

His excitement at getting the team together is contagious and it makes one wish that the writers would allow for this version of Danny to shine more often than the broody one. Nonetheless, Stick calling Iron Fist a “thundering dumbass,” is a hilarious bit of meta commentary on the missteps made with his series.