TV Reviews

The Defenders’ “Mean Right Hook” (S1:E2) – The Reluctant Heroes

I know I shouldn’t be focusing on this. I know I should be geeking out over “Mean Right Hook” finally bringing some of the Defenders together. But, seriously, what was with the camera work in this episode? It damn well better turn out that someone is indeed spying on all of them because if not all of the dutch angles and obstructed views, such as looking up through beer glasses (to see Foggy and Matt) or through a glass window (to see Colleen and Danny), will just have been atmospheric bullshit. The same goes for the iris-in, iris-out camera effect used for all of the scene transitions, i.e., the same transitions that also always featured a shot of a subway train flying by.

But I digress.

“Mean Right Hook” is a far better episode than “The H Word,” but it was always going to be. Probably more so than any Netflix Marvel series to date, The Defenders is going to play out like an 8-hour movie instead of a TV show. The first episode was the exposition and introduction to characters part of the movie, and “Mean Right Hook” is as well. It’s just more entertaining with it since it’s a little further into the story now, moving each character’s separate storyline forward, building to the moment when they finally start to intersect.

And man do they ever intersect. OMG, so cool when….

Say. You’re not reading this before watching the episode are you? You are! Apologies. Please accept this courtesy spoiler warning.


So, anyway, Danny totally super punched Luke and knocked him down, a true face-saving move after having been woefully unable to inflict any harm on the future Power Man. Prior to that, it was fairly hilarious to see Danny’s tiny fists and feet of fury bouncing off a not-so-much-annoyed-but-bored Luke. Danny and Colleen’s post-earthquake wanderings and Luke’s investigation into the mysterious deaths of local teenagers led them to the same spot, and a misunderstanding led the future allies to fight, Luke and Danny memorably greeting each other with, “Who the hell are you?”

Elsewhere, Matt finally did what I actually half-expected him to (surprise cameo) do in Jessica Jones or Luke Cage: he stopped a police interrogation short and claimed a new client who just happens to also be a superhero. In this case, he freed Jessica from Misty Knight, who seems destined to always act as a plot obstacle for the heroes to get around since she’s never clued in on what’s really going on in the neighborhood.

And now The Defenders have paired off and are probably a mere episode away from fully uniting (and deciding they don’t like each other). Until then, these pairings could be fun. Matt and Jessica are the two still struggling to move from their own drama which is keeping them from getting back into the game. Danny is plagued with guilt and mistrust. Luke wants to help but he also kind of wants to simply ease back into things. However, throughout “Mean Right Hook” their heroic tendencies kicked in, giving the impression that one of the themes of The Defenders will be that these people need the support of other people like them to truly accept who they are and what they need to do. Kind of a “just when I thought I was out these knuckleheads I met pulled me back in.”

Matt’s certainly not getting that from Foggy, who clearly wants him to stop. On the other end, everyone around Jessica is trying to prop her back up but she might need new voices sending the same message for it to really get through. Danny has Colleen telling him to forgive himself and open up to the idea of teamwork, but he just can’t. And Luke has an understandably nervous, but ultimately supportive girlfriend. Actually, on second thought, Luke might not need them as much as they need him.



  1. Not used to seeing Madame Gao serving as a constantly overruled messenger. Nice way to establish Sigourney Weaver’s supremacy.
  2. Did I hear that right? Did one of Trish’s radio callers refer to “the incident” when explaining what New Yorkers must always think about in times of turmoil? Seriously? They’re still using vague language to refer to The Avengers even after everything else that’s happened in the MCU since then?
  3. Remember my argument last review about the challenge of juggling the differing cinematic DNAs of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and (to a lesser extent) Iron Fist? Yeaaaah, “Mean Right Hook” kind of stopped trying. It was shot, edited, lit and even scored (with the occasional exception) pretty much like a Daredevil episode.
  4. So, Weaver’s character is hundreds of years old, right? Is she their Vandal Savage (from Legends of Tomorrow)? Will she constantly be slipping in references to historical events and characters she happens to have first-hand knowledge about? Eh. As long as they’re all as good as her bit about Bach in “Mean Right Hook” I won’t have a problem with it.
  5. Did Hogarth really think Jessica would listen to her warnings? She still had to try, I guess.
  6. Elektra runs down stairs cooler than you do, Jessica.
  7. I have no strong feelings about the opening credits which merge the heroes with their respective New York territories, btw.  It’s a perfectly fine sequence, a little blah, as is the new theme song.

On to episode 3. I’ll be adding reviews for each episode all weekend. You can follow along here.


    1. I think it gets better as the season goes along. I know those first two were directed by the same women, and I don’t know whose directed all of the others. She did some clever match-cutting and color coding in the first two episodes, but she also did some really weird stuff with the camera which I took to imply a sense of voyeurism as if these characters are all being spied on by the villains. I’m up to episode 6, though, and that hasn’t paid off in any way whatsoever. So, really, I don’t know what the point of it was whatsoever, other than to bluntly put objects either in-between or in front of characters to visualize their separation. It’s not the way I’ve seen that kind of thing done before on any of these shows.

      1. Well, there is also the weird way the conversation between Alexandra and Japanese guy is shot in episode 6, with them both slightly blurry at the edges. And then the conversation at the table in episode 4, I think….someone went through all the pain of creating a set in which every character would sit in front of their respective colours, but then the camera keeps spinning around in a manner that you see them more from the side and instead of the front, so that the effect is pretty much gone. On the other hand there is the conversation between Jessica and Luke in the alley where she is standing in his colour and he is standing in hers, which works beautifully because for once there isn’t fancy camerawork ruining the effect. I just got the impression that whoever was responsible for creating the set and whoever directed the camera wasn’t working that well together because the direction doesn’t take full advantage of the carefully created set most of the time.

      2. Agreed. The odd camerawork is present throughout, but often just in isolated scenes. In the first 2 episodes and episode 7, though, it’s almost in every single scene and really screws things up.

        ” I just got the impression that whoever was responsible for creating the set and whoever directed the camera wasn’t working that well together because the direction doesn’t take full advantage of the carefully created set most of the time.”


  1. Do people have to watch the defenders? I mean suppose i think they are all lame apart from jessica jones. Would i have to watch this series just to make sure i dont miss important plot developmemts with her character? Hate to watch series 2 and findnkut they keep making all these references to the defenders. Oh and is the punisher in the series?

    1. I just finished episode 6, and so far there’s nothing here that would deeply impact Jessica Jones’ next season. If you skip The Defenders, yeah, you’re agreeing to be in the dark on certain references Jessica will make next season. And after this there’s a possibility that these characters will finally start cameoing on each other’s shows. So, you won’t really understand Jessica and Matt’s relationship should he pop by to offer some legal help next season, or Trish and Karen Page’s if they form some kind of relationship as fellow investigative reporters, enough that Trish leans on her for some brief help next season. But in terms of anything specific to Jessica’s mythology there hasn’t been anything here that’s changed any of that, not yet at least. The Defenders really speaks more directly to Daredevil and Iron Fist. Jessica and Luke are kind of just along for the ride.

      1. Just finished the season. Can confirm that there is no Punisher appearance. Instead, there is a teaser trailer for his series snuck in as a post-credits scene to the Defenders finale. That teaser is now on YouTube.

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