WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Marvel’s The Defenders, available now on Netflix.
While the first few episodes of Marvel’s The Defenders were somewhat leisurely paced, the Netflix miniseries raced toward its (literally) explosive finish, leaving bodies and at least one enormous surprise in its wake. But in the aftermath of the defeat of the Hand, the ancient organization that threatened to destroy New York City, the heroes had little time, or reason, to celebrate, and were left to instead pick up the pieces. Similarly, viewers found themselves trying to figure out what to make of those final scenes.
The climax of The Defenders arrives precisely where the unlikely alliance between Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Danny Rand began, at Midland Circle, the epicenter of the earthquake that rocked New York, as well as the key to the Hand’s plan — and its defeat. Recognizing that the only way to stop the ancient organization and save the city, the four heroes and their allies (Colleen Wing, Claire Temple and Misty Knight) carry out a plan to use explosives to collapse the building onto itself, and burying the source of the precious substance sought by the Hand deep within the earth below.
With high stakes, a ticking clock and lots of C-4, it’s perhaps no surprise that not everybody makes it out of Midland Circle. Convinced that the Elektra he once knew, and still loves, remains within the resurrected Black Sky, Matt remains at the bottom of the enormous hole even as his new allies escape. When the explosives detonate, that mysterious hole presumably becomes a tomb for Matt, Elektra and Madame Gao, the last of the Hand founders still left standing.
Following a tearful, and largely silent, reunion at the police precinct, where Karen and Foggy realize Matt isn’t returning, The Defenders skips ahead, although how much time has elapsed isn’t exactly clear. The city government has offered a feeble excuse for both the earthquake and the building collapse (“unpermitted construction” at Midland Circle), and the NYPD and district attorney have decided none of the events actually happened, meaning the heroes and their allies face no charges. Misty Knight is maimed during the final showdown, presumably paving the way for the introduction of her bionic arm from the comics, and, in a particularly touching scene, Luke and Jessica reconcile after the events of Jessica Jones Season 1.
However, the biggest moments of this denouement are reserved (of course) for the very end, beginning with Danny pondering Matt Murdock, and his of the city for which he sacrificed his life. “In K’un-Lun, the taught me that there’s a lesson in every tragedy,” he tells Colleen, “and even while experiencing pain, there’s an opportunity to grow and find clarity.” It’s a crucial realization that would seem to signal a much-needed maturing of the impetuous Iron Fist, who decides New York is beginning to feel like home.
That’s underscored moments later as we spot a figure lurking in the shadows of a city rooftop, bringing to mind Daredevil. However, the fist begins to glow, illuminating a determined Danny Rand, who just may be ready to step into the role of guardian of Hell’s Kitchen.
He may not need to assume the job for long, though, as the final seconds of The Defenders reveal (surprise!) that Matt isn’t actually buried beneath tons of rubble but is instead bloody and battered, but alive, in a convent. In a scene pulled from the pages of “Born Again,” the seminal 1986 Daredevil story arc by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, Matt awakes in a spartan room, where a watchful nun says, “Get Maggie. Tell her he’s awake.”
Who’s Maggie? Introduced in “Born Again,” she’s Matt’s mother, who left her husband and young son, and entered the Catholic sisterhood. She nurses Matt back to health after his life is destroyed by Wilson Fisk, and helps set him on a path to save Hell’s Kitchen, shatter Kingpin’s reputation and reclaim what’s his.
For now we’re left wondering how Matt survived the implosion of Midland Circle, who rescued him (and how), and whether we can look to “Born Again” for clues to Daredevil Season 3.
Available now Netflix, the eight-episode Defenders stars Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Finn Jones as Danny Rand, Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios, Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, Eka Darville as Malcolm Ducasse, Simone Missick as Misty Knight, Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson, Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth, Scott Glenn as Stick, Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker, Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple and Jessica Henwick as Colleen Wing.
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