So getting back to ‘Iron Fist’ now, it seems like the show really did not find its footing until the final 4 or 5 episodes, which frankly, does not really cut it for a series that is only 13 episodes long, especially one with the pedigree this one has. While I have attempted to be optimistic about ‘Iron Fist’ from the beginning, now that I’m toward the end here, even “finding its footing” does not mean it has magically transformed into a show on a level with ‘Daredevil,’ ‘Luke Cage,’ or ‘Jessica Jones.’ The storytelling seems to be more even now, the fights more frequent, and the storyline finally has gotten into something interesting and not plagued by random visions by Danny that really tell us nothing at all and keeping showing us that damn plane crash over and over again without revealing any new information.
This review will cover the episodes titled ‘The Mistress of All Agonies,’ ‘Black Tiger Steals Heart,’ ‘Lead Horse Back to Stable,’ and ‘Bar the Big Boss.’ A note about episode titles, much like the show itself, they are very intriguing and give the sense of something much deeper and very cool, but in the end, I’m not sure the titles are ever referenced in the episodes themselves and just seem to be names picked by the showrunners because they might vaguely have something to do with the plot of that episode, which seems like the kind of haphazard thing they would do on ‘Iron Fist.’
So getting back to it, Danny, Colleen and Claire smuggle Gao back to the United States and take her back to their ultimate safe house… the dojo. Because the Hand will NEVER think to look for them there. And when Danny thinks of torturing Gao for the truth about his parents, Claire instead has the bright idea of using truth serum (and she seems so sure it will work, despite the fact that is not exactly how it works in real life). Luckily for the plot, they just happen to carry it at Rand Enterprises. Unluckily, Danny learns he has been ousted from the company, so he has to sneak inside, but fortunately for him, the lab tech has no problem with it and just tells him not to mention her name in case he gets caught.
Long story short, the truth serum does not work on Gao (you mean it didn’t work on the mystical woman who’s been alive for centuries? shocker…) and the gang has to fend off an attack by Gao’s people, even as Colleen falls ill and everyone forgets she was struck by the blade of her Hand opponent in China, right before they learned the Hand operants doused their weapons in poison. (I could not believe how long it took them to realize Colleen had been poisoned). To save her, Colleen has Danny call her Sensei, Bakuto, who we met once before and learned he was a mysterious man Colleen was very loyal to, and he arrives with many men who take out more of Gao’s soldiers (who seemed to be just waiting outside) and instantly knows exactly what to do to save Colleen. He teaches Danny to use the Iron Fist to cure her of the poison (uh…ok) but sadly it is too much for Danny, who collapses right after he saves Colleen. Then, without question, Bakuto grabs Danny and Colleen and Gao and throws them all in his van and drives them to a “safe” location, telling Claire she cannot accompany them.
Meanwhile, in the Meachum storyline, Harold returns from the dead, as apparently due to the Hand’s gift he cannot actually be killed. Ward is understandably freaked out, but Harold does not exact revenge on his son, but actually seems to want to reconcile. Or so it seems. Ward however goes and talks to Yang (the head of the ax-wielding gang) about resurrected Hand folk, and the man warns him these individuals come back a little more psychotic each time they die, and inevitably go after those they love, making Ward fear for himself and Joy. Before he can do anything though, he is framed by Harold for heroin possession (even though he is technically using, someone left a large stash of drugs in plain site in his car and tipped off the cops, something Ward is not stupid enough to do), and Ward is thrown in the same mental hospital Danny found himself within in episode 2, under the care of the same doctor, also strapped down, and being watched by Harold on cameras. Joy meanwhile decides to visit the Penthouse Ward tried to take her to a few episodes ago and finds her father, and they reconcile, with Harold informing her that Ward went to get
Joy, meanwhile, decides to visit the Penthouse Ward tried to take her to a few episodes ago and finds her father. They reconcile, with Harold informing her that Ward went to get help for his addiction. Soon after, Harold murders the Head Board member that fired Joy and Ward and makes it look like suicide, which allows Joy to reclaim control of the company for her, Ward and Danny, though she confronts her father and demands to know whether he hired anyone to kill the man, which Harold could honestly say he did not (because he committed the deed himself). Next, he and Joy get to work on the Hand tablet Danny gave Harold earlier in the season to try to see if they can find a way to remove the Hand’s control from Rand.
Danny awakens in Bakuto’s campus and learns this is where Colleen trained, where she considers home, and where she sends her students when they are ready. Bakuto offers to teach him to recenter his chi or some nonsense (honestly, I’m not saying chi is nonsense, but its use in this show is. Danny’s chi is constantly “out of alignment” or depleted. But he can magically make it work whenever the plot demands it, or it can magically be broken whenever the plot needs it broken. A little consistency here would have been nice). To keep this short, Danny figures out that Bakuto is the leader of a supposedly benign faction of the Hand that Colleen is also part of, and she has been lying to him from the beginning. Danny also learns that Gao was part of a darker sect of the Hand that Bakuto opposed though Danny soon learns that Bakuto is not opposed to keeping surveillance cameras everywhere and taking over Gao’s enterprises once the woman was imprisoned (including controlling Rand and Harold).
Danny attempts to escape and is helped by an unexpected ally, Davos, his friend from K’un L’un, who has been tracking Danny, pissed that the man abandoned his post in protecting the ancient city. They fight off what seems like every Hand student there (didn’t the Hand seem much more competent in ‘Daredevil?’ I know these are just students, but come on, they seem downright comical in how poorly they fight, except for Colleen and Bakuto). Davos urges Danny to use the Iron Fist to bust down the main gate holding them there (because for some reason they can’t use their skills to climb over the wall) and conveniently enough, Danny can’t get his mojo to work, so they’re trapped. Luckily, Colleen has a change of heart and opens the gate, allowing them to escape and fleeing after them. Danny takes Davos to Claire’s, all the while being berated for leaving K’un L’un like “a thief in the night,” Davos being especially upset because he himself had wanted to become the Iron Fist and did not get the opportunity because Danny got it instead. Claire is pissed that she was left behind and more so pissed that Colleen was secretly part of the Hand. After informing Davos that he will not be returning to K’un L’un until the Hand is destroyed, Danny meets up with Harold and Joy to formulate a plan, and they come up with a way to flush out Bakuto by draining his accounts from Rand enterprises using the tablet Danny stole from Gao’s woman earlier in the season, which Joy and Harold had already been researching. Meanwhile Colleen is captured by her former trainees and taken back to the compound where Bakuto is going to have her killed by her own students, but she manages to fight her way out, arriving outside just in time for Danny and Davos to find her, the pair waiting for Bakuto to come out as part of the Meachum plan. Danny abandons his post (cause who cares about this plan apparently) and runs to her, comforting her as Davos realizes the romance between them and why Danny is tied to this world.
At this point, Bakuto frees Ward from the mental hospital after giving him some miracle drug that cures his addition to the Hand heroine, and they make a deal to kill Harold and give the Rand Company to the Hand if Ward and Joy could go free and safe. Ward arrives at the Penthouse and tries to get Joy out of there but Bakuto double-crosses him and shoots her (clean shot he claims, she should be fine if gotten to the hospital), and holds a sword to Harold’s head, claiming the only way to kill him is to cut off his head. Bakuto then uses Ward’s phone to call Danny and demand his surrender or he will kill all the Meachums, an offer that Colleen and Davos warn Danny not to take. As the clock ticks down, Bakuto decides Danny is not coming and is about to chop off Harold’s head when Danny arrives and allows them to shackle him. Though we all suspect the Iron Fist can break through his handcuffs, we have no idea if his chi is still on the fritz or not (though plot convenience dictates it will magically work to free him for a fight).
They head downstairs leaving the Meachums to care for Joy, and hate on Ward who betrayed them all, and of course on the ground floor Danny activates the fist and breaks free, but it only works long enough to free him, then it fizzles and he has to fight Bakuto old school, without his glowing friend. Luckily, Colleen and Davos are there to take on Bakuto’s other two henchmen (again only 2 henchmen? In ‘Daredevil’ the Hand felt like it attacked people in SWARMS) and we get a pretty decent fight scene, with the tension slightly amped up because it is the second to last episode and frankly anyone could die or be seriously injured at this point.
Sadly, no one dies, and Bakuto runs away, and they give chase, just so they can get to a better dueling spot outside in the rain. Colleen takes up the challenge for a sword fight against her sensei, which is a great fight. She wins, barely, gutting Bakuto, but not killing him, because the show needs to demonstrate that she and Danny are good people. Luckily for us, Davos has no such qualms, and he immediately stabs and kills Bakuto, which upsets Danny and Colleen.
Danny and Davos’ conflict comes to a head and they duel, and it is an ok duel, but it’s supposed to be very heated and emotionally charged because they were best friends, but I’m just not feeling it that much because we barely know Davos and really, he’s just been kind of a whiny jerk since we met him. We do get Danny coming to some realizations such as the fact that he can be the Iron Fist and Danny Rand at the same time, and he does not need to just stand guard at the gate for the rest of his life, but clearly that is not enough for Davos. Eventually Davos leaves, and we assume he will go guard the gate because someone has to, though we have no idea why it is so important to protect K’un L’un because the show has never really set up the importance of the city, or the stakes in keeping it safe. And of course, when Colleen and Danny turn around, Bakuto’s body is gone, because apparently Hand people just can’t stay dead.
And to close the episode on a cliffhanger, after a nice moment of Danny and Colleen back in the dojo doing some warm up exercises together in what frankly felt like it could have been the final moments of the season, Danny gets a text from Ward telling him and Colleen to run, because Harold has betrayed them and they have company coming. Danny and Colleen fend off the first attack, learning the attackers are DEA agents, and the episode ends with the pair fleeing the dojo and the DEA, in what would have been the perfect cliff-hangar ending to a mediocre season. Yet, there is one episode left, which would either mean great things for ‘Iron Fist,’ or not.
We’ll just have to wait and see…