With only one more episode left in the series, “Fish in the Jailhouse” desperately attempts to draw out the suspense as long as possible. In some regards it succeeded, but across the board it only made the story seem slow and lazy after the excitement of “Ashes, Ashes”.
However, the set-up is not without its potential: Elektra is now in charge of The Hand, Danny is in their possession, the three remaining heroes – Luke, Jessica, and Matt – are stuck in a police station, and Stick is dead. Unfortunately, there are too many conversations that recap plot points and character dynamics — which would be fine if this was a traditional tv show that aired one episode a week, instead of the Netflix binge watching model.
Despite this, there are some enjoyable moments throughout the episode. Matt seems to finally accept that he will always be Daredevil, regardless of what Karen and Foggy think. It’s a nice conclusion to a conflict that has existed across two seasons of Daredevil. The NYPD appears as a different kind of threat to the heroes, a hinderance that needs to be handled with more finesse and less punching… So of course Luke and Jess punch their way through a wall so they can go after The Hand. Funnily enough the police think they kidnapped Matt, the blind lawyer. After escaping the precinct, the remaining Defenders take the subway to Midland Circle (oh, how far the mighty have fallen). There are also two decent fight sequences; between the last three Fingers of The Hand, and Elektra and Danny.
The fight between The Hand and the Defenders was a little claustrophobic. It took place in the basement of a parking garage that was filled with building materials and vehicles. While this gave everyone plenty of objects to crash into and break — unnecessarily reminding us that everyone in this show can take a punch, or a wall — there was not enough room for the sophisticated choreography that Marvel shows and movies are so famous for. Similarly, the fighting dynamic was off. Matt was paired with both Murakami and Bakuto for fancy martial arts moves while Luke and Jessica faced off against Madame Gao, who basically used the Force to throw concrete blocks at them. Very underwhelming.
It also didn’t help that the fight was cross-cut into the subterranean showdown between Danny and Elektra. While each camera cut was perfectly timed to effortlessly bring you from scene to scene, it did so too frequently. I simply couldn’t get invested in either fight, everything just bled together.
Opposed the parking garage fight, Danny and Elektra’s fight seemed to have more focus. Elektra (no longer the Black Sky) explains that The Hand needs the Iron Fist to open a door to unleash their ultimate weapon. Elektra attempts to convince Danny that they are two sides of the same coin — “Your masters kept you in the dark, just like mine did. The only difference between us is that I took my destiny. You ran away from yours.”
Once the fight begins, Danny is soundly defeated by Elektra. But despite knowing that the Iron Fist can open the door, Danny decides to be reckless and lights up his fist anyway. While he lands a few solid punches, Elektra skillfully leads him (and his fist) back towards the door. So the next time he blindly punches at her in his rage, she redirects it into the seal which she so desperately wants him to open. It really wasn’t Danny’s best moment in the show.
The episode concludes by revealing the skeleton of a dragon that was buried underneath Midland Circle. Meanwhile, the other heroes, Colleen, and Claire are upstairs with a bag of explosives ready to collapse the building into the hole. The Hand is still at large and headed to the pit, ready to kill Danny and acquire the substance they so desperately seek.
Overall I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this episode. The Hand’s mission is getting fuzzy again: are they after the substance? Immortality? K’un-Lun? Nobody seems to know anymore. Misty just keeps popping up everywhere to either help or hinder the heroes. It’s like she can’t make up her mind. The dialogue was chunky and everyone just seemed to bumble about before getting into positions for the finale.
In conclusion, I would have preferred to watch an hour of the supporting characters just hanging out in the police precinct. And while that wouldn’t have involved any grizzly fights, I’m sure they had more interesting conversations than this whole episode combined.
SIDE NOTE: The best part of the episode is when Foggy and Matt have a heart to heart in the hallway. Despite the fact that Foggy hates what Matt is doing, he knows that if Matt’s two worlds were to collide, everyone they had helped over the past few years would be thrown away like yesterday’s trash. Knowing that Matt won’t listen to whatever he says, Foggy brings him the Daredevil suit, knowing that he has to stop the The Hand as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a touching moment, especially when Matt thanks him and Foggy just hugs him and responds, “that’s what family’s for.” Later, just as the three Defenders are about to storm into Midland Circle, Matt changes into full costume (like a drama queen) while Jess and Luke look on in exasperation.
[media courtesy of Netflix]