Alright, jumping back into ‘Iron Fist,’ I would say this is where the show transitions from its halting, introductory episodes into some more solid storytelling, helped along by a lot more action and fight sequences (though admittedly the fights are not nearly as good as the ones we’ve seen in ‘Daredevil’ which is a bit disappointing considering that skill sets Danny Rand is supposed to have) as well as the introduction of some new characters to the plot, including the always welcome Claire Temple, who you’ll remember from every other Netflix/ Marvel show. This review covers the episodes titled ‘Under Leaf Pluck Lotus,’ ‘Immortal Emerges From Cave,’ ‘Felling Tree With Roots,’ and ‘The Blessing of Many Fractures.’
Danny’s story starts with him discovering a new Hand created heroine in town that he needs to deal with, especially since the packages sport a version of the Iron Fist symbol without the wings, dishonoring him (I suppose). On his way out the door (after failing to convince Ward about the drug, but leaving a sample of the drug with Ward) Danny is ambushed by a group who get him to apologize for the cancer a Rand factory may have caused their family members, which they videotape and later use to blackmail the company. None of which matters to Danny as he heads to recruit Colleen to join him to the Red Pier to investigate the shipments to see if the Hand is importing heroin.
At the dojo he meets Claire Temple, who joins him and Colleen for a very awkward lunch, wherein it becomes clear that suddenly (to me at least) Colleen and Danny have developed romantic feelings for each other, and she agrees to accompany him to the pier, where they break into the containers and find nothing, until Danny looks behind some of the innocuous boxes and finds a chemist being smuggled who is responsible for creating the highly addicting heroine.
The man is stabbed as Danny rescues him, and taken back to the dojo where they call Claire to help save him, though the man (Radovan) insists that they save his daughter Sabina instead, who is being held by the Hand. Long story short, Danny eventually is challenged to combat by the leader of this part of the Hand, Madam Gao (yep, the same one from ‘Daredevil’), the terms being he gets Sabina and the Hand out of Rand if he wins, and he will leave the Hand alone if he loses. He faces all of the challenges and manages to scrape by with the help of his master from K’un L’un (though I couldn’t tell if these were hallucinations, memories, or some kind of astral projections), but Gao cheats at the end and demands that Danny forfeits or she will kill Sabina.
Danny does as she says, leaving with Sabina just as Claire and Colleen take Radovan to a hospital for his injuries. The Hand kidnaps the man back into their custody. Danny goes to Harold for information since Gao had mentioned knowing his father, but finds Harold about to lose fingers to Hand agents punishing him, so he helps Harold take down those agents, and watches in horror as Harold kills the agents in cold blood. After which, Danny (for some reason unknown to me when there were dead bodies to deal with at the Penthouse) heads to Colleen’s where they give in to their passions after she stitches him up and make love for the first time, with him awakening the next morning and heading to Rand where he is met by none other than Gao herself, who warns Danny to stay out of her and the Hand’s way.
Ignoring this, Danny follows her and her men down to the secret 13th floor of Rand, where he discovers their business base of operations,. Once Gao leaves, he interrogates the woman working there, demanding her password and tablet, reminding her of the brutal death of the last Hand agent who failed to stop Danny and warning her to flee the city before Gao finds her. Danny gives the tablet to Harold to use against Gao, and hearing about all the issues he caused by apologizing about the plant that may have caused cancer, shows up to a board meeting completely unapologetic and demands the company shut down the plant until they learn for sure whether or not it caused those cancer cases, which of course does not sit well with the Board (and Danny may be a bleeding heart liberal and make decisions with his heart, but he’s kind of a jerk when he does these things).
Next he recruits Yang and his men (the knife wielding gang who attacked Joy) to go after the Hand’s heroine facilities in New York, and he and Colleen attack alongside them, hoping to save Radovan, but they all arrive too late, and Radovan tells them that Gao has left for Anzhou China, which Danny recognizes as the place where he and his family were traveling when their plane crashed 15 years prior. He begins to connect the dots that Gao and the Hand may have been behind his parent’s death, especially if his father was going to Anzhou to shut her down.
Before we wrap up Danny’s story, probably best to touch on everyone else’s story. Basically with everything Danny is doing to follow his conscience and try to lead Rand with his heart and not with profits in mind, the Board is pissed, and blames the Meachums for letting Danny get away with this style, so they basically stage a coup, and take over the company, ousting Danny and the Meachums, though Danny does retain his stocks. (I’m not really sure how all the business side of this works or if it’s really legal because in my mind, if Danny owns the controlling interest in the company, I don’t see how the board can “fire” him, unless the firing part just applied to the Meachums.)
Anyways, they give the Meachums a $100,000 severance pay (same thing they tried to give Danny to go away), and Joy does not appreciate the irony, though Ward is willing to deal, because he has his own problems. See, the stress of late has gotten to Ward, and he’s been falling more and more into his little pill addiction, and Danny made a huge mistake leaving the heroine sample with Ward, because he even tried that and is now addicted. To make matters worse, Harold has been harder and harder to deal with, even making Ward dispose of the bodies of the Hand agents he killed with Danny (Ward had to dump them in the River), and Ward is cracking under the pressure.
The night before they got the severance offer, Ward and Harold had one final argument, which culminated with Ward taking a knife and actually killing his father by jamming the knife into his gut, removing the bane of his existence once and for all and then dumping the body in the river, same as the Hand agents. And when he came back to the apartment to clean up the mess, he found Danny there, wanting to talk to Harold about Anzhou China and what his father knew about Gao and that location. Ward played along with Danny’s assumption that the Hand must have killed Harold, and blamed Danny for everything, saying that Danny’s attack on Gao’s heroine warehouse must have pissed them off enough for them to come kill Harold. So yeah, when Ward got the severance offer, he had other things on his mind and could care less about fighting to stay in Rand, so unlike Joy, he wanted to take it. And even after Joy asked him to give her a little time to counter the offer, he went behind her back and asked for a deal, even if it meant less money.
But sadly for him, Joy had already gone behind his back and rejected the offer, which royally pissed him off until he learned that she had hired a private investigator (clearly a Jessica Jones reference) some time ago and had dirt on all the board members they could use as leverage. Eventually after some brother/ sister bonding Ward decides he should tell Joy about Harold having been brought back to life and tries to bring her to the Penthouse, but his withdrawal symptoms keep hitting him, and he keeps hallucinating Harold’s blood, and cannot push the penthouse elevator buttons because he sees blood everywhere.
Back in the Danny story, the man decides to go to China, and both Claire and Colleen demand to go with him to fight the Hand, with Claire demanding to go along because she is tired of running and wants to avenge her friend Luisa that died back in ‘Daredevil’ season 2. Along the way, Claire and Danny discuss his burgeoning relationship with Colleen and Claire’s own love life in the form of a letter she keeps rereading from a man whose name she won’t mention (clearly from Luke Cage). When Colleen awakens, the three discuss whether or not Danny would be justified in killing Gao, especially if she killed his parents. Claire argues no (because she has seen the most killing of the three so far), while Colleen is strangely okay with it, but she might be tainted by her feelings for Danny.
They get to China and stake-out out Gao’s factory, in what seems to me an awful stake-out position (feels like they just parked right outside the main building), and after Colleen bribes a local homeless man for info, she and Danny head inside to burn it all down, just as Gao arrives with her men. Claire warns them by blaring the horn, and then some cool fights ensue. Colleen fights a sword wielding female Hand member who seems almost evenly matched with her, while Danny fights a kind of drunken master who has vowed to protect the Hand, and proves adept at fighting while holding onto his jug of sake. Colleen wins with Claire’s help, and Danny finally manages to overpower his opponent before giving in to his rage and beating the man almost to death (or maybe he did kill him? show was kind of unclear on that) before Colleen and Claire arrive and pull him back.
Gao then arrives and offers Danny another chance for training and to join the Hand (do they really think the Iron Fist would ever join the Hand? Especially if he has taken a vow to destroy it?) and when Danny declines, Gao orders her men to kill the women. Of course the men fail, impaled on their own poisoned weapons, and Danny is left facing Gao, the poisoned weapons and the symptoms being all the confirmation Danny needed that Gao did kill his parents (the pilots of the plane had been poisoned the same way), and his fist is fully charged, ready to kill the woman. He throws his punch in her direction, the wall is blasted outward, and we see he punched right past her head, keeping her alive. And the episode ends with Danny and the ladies taking Gao into custody back to the United States. Umm, do private jets not have to deal with security or customs? I’m honestly not sure how that works, but it just seems really odd to me that they would so easily get Gao out of China.
I enjoyed how much more was going on in these episodes, I really liked Madame Gao and Claire Temple, the romance with Colleen and Danny was ok, and the fight scenes had some good moments (again, could still be better), but all in all these 4 episodes seemed far better than the initial four of the season, and I’m hoping that trend continues for the series, especially now that we are fully into the Hand and that plotline, and maybe can ease back on the Rand Industries stories, as I find that part of the story far less interesting. I do wish the Hand seemed as intimating and scary as they did in ‘Daredevil,’ they seem a bit more gangster and thuggish in ‘Iron Fist’ than in ‘Daredevil,’ where they seemed more mystical and bad-ass scary, but maybe that’s just because we know Danny can handle them better because of his own training. And I did like seeing that little bit of Madame Gao’s power during the Challenge, just so we know she is not weak- it made her character seem much more interesting. Looking forward to the next four, see you back here soon!