Netflix Recap/Review: Iron Fist
By: David Carner (@davidcarner)
Welcome to the Iron Fist series review. Iron Fist comes at an unenviable position. When the Marvel-Netflix shows first began, there were no real expectations. Daredevil was a scary proposition given how bad the movies were perceived, deserved or not (I personally didn’t think the Daredevil movies were that bad, but Electra…that was a burning bag of crap). When Daredevil came out of the gates strong, the bar was raised a little. Jessica Jones, my personal favorite of all the shows, was well-received, and they also introduced us to Luke Cage. Luke Cage broke Netflix (literally) for some time when it came out because everyone was trying to watch it. Now we have Iron Fist. It has greater expectations of all the others and it’s the last one before we get to the team-up everyone has been waiting for in Defenders. I’m digging this show.
Series overview. Spoilers to follow!
Joy and Ward are such complicated characters. They are the childhood friends of Danny, and their fathers created Rand. Ward appeared to be the evil mastermind to start and as the show progressed we find he’s been manipulated by his father, and eventually he loses it. He tries to redeem himself, and by the end you find yourself slowly rooting for him. Joy appears to be a good person, but she’s a cold-hearted calculated business person, who wonders why she’s doing what she’s doing, and you think is going to change, but by the end, she may join the dark side.
There is subtle humor throughout the series if you pay attention. Each time Ward’s phone rings and it’s from Harold, who’s been brought back from the dead, and his phone reads Frank N. Stein.
The overall plot of the show is simple, Danny Rand decides to come back to New York 15 years after he disappeared and everyone thinks he is dead. He has no idea how to reconnect in today’s world after disappearing at 10, and then living a simple lifestyle amongst monks. The main bad guys appear to be the Hand, led by Gao, who we originally saw in Daredevil. This entire series is Danny’s journey of balancing his return to New York along to follow his sacred oath of destroying the Hand. Like most Marvel characters, he makes errors in both fields. He returns to take over Rand Enterprises, yet has no idea how today’s business world works, and makes mistakes on the side of good and compassion, instead of the bottom line.
During the series, we are introduced to Colleen Wing, and reintroduced to some amazing characters, most of them female. Finn Jones is right, the women in this show are incredible and their characters are the ones that keep it together for the male characters. Colleen is frickin incredible! The seeds for the Defenders are sown, although none of the actual heroes show up.
A word of advice, when you go into this show, try to put yourself in the shoes of a 10-year-old Danny and how his world was then and now trying to return to the real world. It makes a lot of his decisions and actions make a lot more sense. One thing that this series is missing is a soundtrack like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. There are moments of music that pulls you in, but there isn’t the soundtrack that pulled you in like the other two series had. One last thing, I’ve read a lot of criticism about this show, and some is true. Like all Marvel Netflix shows, it could have been done in 10 or 11 episodes, but there is a deep story here. Give it time to play out. Every time you think you know something, you find out you’re wrong. This show is slow-paced, and it is a lot like Daredevil. Many don’t think the fighting is as good, and Finn seems to go at half speed. I think that’s done intentionally to show you how good he actually is. If you put a gun to my head and made me rank it, I’d put it 3rd behind Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. But, just like Daredevil, I think it is one of the top 4 superhero TV shows today. One cool little side note, each episode name is the name of a Kung-Fu movie.
Episode one is basically the return of Danny Rand, and getting the first clues to who our bad guys are. Now imagine if you had disappeared in 2002 as a 10-year-old. This was pre-social media, the very beginning of cell phones, and people still talked to each other. Now imagine you have been trained by this group of mysterious people and all you want to do is see your friends and family. Meet stalker Danny Rand. Yeah, it comes across creepy, but what else do you know? People gripped about the fight. It looked to me like a guy who wanted to get upstairs but not hurt the people doing their jobs. We have some strange flashbacks, and learn one of Danny’s friends, the one who won’t even talk to him now because he doesn’t believe he is Danny, is a JERK. A BIG OLE JERK! (Is Ward a jerk/bad guy in every Marvel show) We meet Colleen Wing the first episode, who looks to be the breakout character of this series, and she gives him some shoes. Many reviewers talk about the lack of fighting, but taking out four gunmen during a parade is nothing to sneeze at. We also meet Ward’s “dead” father, Harold, who apparently got better(Joy doesn’t know he is alive). Joy and Ward drug Danny to end the show, and he wakes at what appears to be a mental hospital. Is it the best first episode ever, no. Is it as good as anything on the CW, ABC, or other network show, yeah.
Episode two Danny is in a mental hospital on a 72 hour hold. We learn more of the back story and there is a passport with his picture on it and the name John Anderson. The Meachums have the hospital bugged and offer money to Colleen to sign papers saying Danny is dangerous. We learn that Danny is a warrior that is out to destroy the Hand, and apparently they know about Harold. Joy begins to have doubts about what she did to Danny. Ward offers Colleen 50k, and she goes to visit Danny. Colleen believes him and takes M&Ms, minus the brown ones, to Joy (a memory from their childhood). Joy believes him, and Colleen leaves the papers with Joy unsigned. Ward refuses to believe its Danny, and won’t have him released from the hospital. The doctor at the hospital finally believes him, however Danny starts talking about K’un-Lun and the doctor believes he is making the Iron Fist up, and keeps him in the hospital. Danny can’t summon the Iron Fist because of the drugs he is currently being given. Harold wants Danny moved to one of his private houses, however Ward has Danny beaten, which helps clear the fog of drugs and the Iron Fist comes alive. Danny escapes as Harold watches on the monitor.
Episode three Colleen’s dojo is broken into by men looking for Danny, but she handles herself in a 3-1 fight. Someone please tell me why Harold sleeps in a glass coffin, actually don’t. We finally have the test of skills between Danny and Colleen, and yeah, it’s full of sexual tension. Danny goes to Joy’s home/his old home to try and fix things with her (and he appears to have finally showered). Joy offers him $100 mil to change his name and buy him out, of course Danny storms off. Danny figures out who is putting flowers on his family’s grave, and it’s Jeri Hogarth…she’s back! (It’s starting to tie together!) She explains to him the business and how much he’s worth which is foreign to Danny. At Harold’s the lights go out, and we here an older woman’s voice, it’s Gao from Daredevil. Harold has an agreement with her. We learn that Ward and Joy appear to be quite connected and willing to do anything to get business done. Danny tries to find a file at the hospital proving his existence and the records room is burnt by one of Ward’s men. Danny confronts Ward and Joy about it, and Joy tells him they aren’t family. Danny drops the bomb about Hogarth being his attorney. Colleen fights in a cage against a huge muscular guy, beats him, and gets a roll of money. A fingerprint on a piece of pottery proves Danny’s identity, Ward swears he’ll drag it out in court for 10 years. Danny follows Ward after the meeting to Harold’s apartment. He is breaking in from the outside window, when he is shoved by someone and falls.
Episode four Danny grabs a light fixture as he falls, handing over New York traffic. He falls onto part of the building and is alive. He wakes in Harold’s apartment. Harold tells Danny that the Hand saved him, but he had to actually die first. Harold says they have him trapped, and begs Danny to help him. Harold tells Ward to drop everything against Danny. Ward warns Danny about Harold. Danny is introduced back to the world, and within minutes he has made a mark in the company by selling a drug at cost instead of a $45 per pill profit. Joy takes Danny out to get him away from the company, and during their conversation we learn she gave Geri the bowl. Colleen returns to the cage, she wants a 2 on 1 match, and wins. Danny tells Joy some of his past. (These weren’t peaceful monks) Men try to take Joy, and Danny goes to save her. BTW dudes have hatchets, and you would think 6 guys with hatchets would do better. They are part of the Golden Sands (Triads) Danny has words with them, and he tells the Triad that the Hand wants the pier. The Triad apologizes and runs. At Harold’s Gao shows, makes him put on a hood, and takes him. Harold is taken to see Joy from across the street, the first time he’s seen her in years. Harold sees she has been hit, and asks Gao to make it right. The Triad member that hits Joy dies, by Harold dressed in Hand garb. (It’s a little nasty.) A note and packet is left at Danny’s door, and we finally see the Iron Fist dragon symbol on his chest.
Episode five opens with women selling synthetic heroin, we cut back to Rand and the note he was left is the ingredients to the new drug, and it’s actually all legal. As Danny leaves the office the women selling heroin enter Rand enterprises and the lady that opened the show with Joy talks to Danny. Her son has cancer and Danny promises to make it right. At the Dojo, Claire Temple is working out with Colleen when Danny walks in with “takeout”. Danny asks Colleen for help with the heroin, and has also bought her building. Danny and Colleen have another skills challenge, and the board has a meeting about Danny’s promise. Danny and Colleen go to the pier to find the heroin, but find the chemist in a trailer instead. The chemist is stabbed during the fight, Claire has to save him, and we find out that the chemist daughter is being held by the Hand. Claire goes ballistic and tells Rand the back story (Daredevil season 2). Rand promises the chemist he’ll save her, and Claire tells him he isn’t qualified. He tells her he can, and she tells him he needs help (I about jumped off the couch), but Colleen tells him she’s in. (I thought we were about to have the Defenders!). We switch to Gao inspecting the truck, and she suspects the Iron Fist. During the episode it is alluded that Ward took the synthetic heroin but not confirmed until episode six.
Episode six is directed by RZA! (You do know who the Wu-Tang Clan is right?) Danny has looked up all the Rand warehouses to try and find the chemist’s daughter, and Joy is on Ward about a meeting to fix Danny’s mess with the video. She gives him grief about being stoned the night before and he throws out all his meds. Ward accompanies Danny to make sure he is back in time for the meeting. At one of the warehouses they find the Hand member (what’s left of him) that was blamed for the chemist escaping. Danny has been challenged by the Hand and he must fight their fighters to get back the girl. Gao accepts Rand’s terms and the fight begins, Danny wins round one. Claire and Colleen get the chemist to the hospital, her former boss has the chemist taken to the OR. Round two begins against a woman who poisons him with spider venom over and over. He wins, but is hurt. At Rand, Ward is going through withdrawal during the meeting and sees the severed head from earlier. He slams his hand in the door and goes to an urgent clinic. Joy follows him and stops him. At the hospital Claire realizes something is wrong, and finds the chemist has been taken. Colleen has to fight off the Hand, but they lose the chemist. Round three begins, and after an amazing battle wins. Gao cheats and puts a knife to the girl before Rand can destroy the Hand member. Rand agrees, and learns that Gao has been to K’un-Lun. Gao taunts Danny; she knows his father, but uses powers to blast him away. Danny thinks he has failed, and the master he keeps seeing turns his back on Danny.
Episode seven begins in Harold’s apartment. The Hand talks to him again, and are about to hurt him when Danny comes in. Harold kills both of them, and Danny tells Harold he can’t summon the Iron Fist because he is cut off from his chi. Harold cuts off a finger so Gao won’t come searching. Joy and Ward argue over his problems. Danny is at Colleen’s getting stitched and he tells her about K’un-Lun. She asks him to stay and he does…sexy time. Ward dumps the bodies for his dad, finds some pills in his car, and partakes. At Rand Joy and Danny argue about the statement Danny is to read when Gao shows up. Gao and Danny talk, and Gao mentions Luke and Daredevil. She says he left to be Danny Rand, not destroy the Hand. Gao gives a veil threat at Colleen and Claire, and leaves using a Rand keycard at the elevator. He jumps down the shaft to give chase, using the Iron Fist, and finds out they’re on the 13th floor, home of the synthetic heroin. Rand overhears the plan to distribute the heroin using his trucks. He makes one of Gao’s women sellers run after getting her password so she won’t die like the last person that fought him. Bakuto, an old friend of Colleen’s, shows up at the dojo (in the comic he’s a hand member). Colleen tells Bakuto everything about Rand. Rand decides to shut down the New Jersey plant, and tells Karen Paige who runs the story in her newspaper. Danny and Colleen go to save the chemist. Ward, on his way to a treatment clinic, finds out 25 mil has been drained from his account. Colleen and Danny ask the Triad to help them fight the Hand, and they join in. Joy, Ward, and Danny are removed from the company. Danny and company attack the Hand. The chemist told Gao how to make the heroin, tells Danny where Gao is, and then he dies. The city is where Danny and his family were heading 15 years ago when his plane crashed. Ward had actually stolen 25 mil from the company, but Harold stole it from him. The two argue, Harold degrades and beats on Ward, and Ward losses it and kills Harold. Ward buries him where he buried the other two Hand members.
Episode eight starts with Claire getting mail from an inmate (wonder who that could be). Danny goes to Harold’s but finds the place empty and with a blood streak. Ward shows up and acts like he knows nothing. Claire, Colleen, and Danny head to China to fight the Hand. Joy and Ward are offered 100 mil each as severance. On the flight to China, as turbulence kicks in, Danny begins to tell his story. Joy turned down the severance package, costing Ward money. Joy had a PI do digging into the board and she has many pictures (she doesn’t say Jessica, but she mentioned she was great, when sober). Colleen and Danny break into the plant to burn it down. Danny fights a Hand member at the plant(a drunken master) and nearly kills him. Ward goes to take Joy to their father’s apartment, but starts seeing blood everywhere, freaks out, and leaves. Gao shows up, and tells the Hand guards to kill all the women. They all fight. The weapons were poisoned, and Danny realized that the pilot was poisoned. Danny goes full Iron Fist and hits the wall just beside Gao’s face, exploding the wall. He grabs her and they leave.
Episode nine begins with Harold waking from the swamp he was buried in and his finger has grown back. The group has Gao captured and they decide to get Sodium Pentothal to make her tell the truth. Gao plays mind games on each member that watches her and eventually Colleen becomes sick. Joy discovers the building Ward took her to was bought by Harold, and begins to investigate. Harold wanders New York, half out of his mind. Gao says that she knew Danny’s mother and she introduced Danny’s father to Gao. Colleen collapses from the poison from China. Ward leaves Harold, but Harold tells him is going to tell Joy so she’ll help him. The Hand attacks the group. Ward goes to the Triad to find out how to take on the Hand. The leader of the Triad tells the legend of a man who had been healed by the Hand the way his father had. Each time he came back, he was worse (this is Marvel, not DC, right?) Harold kills his assistant. Drugs are found in Ward’s car and he’s placed on a 72 hour hold at the mental hospital. Joy finds her father. Bakuto shows up and tells Iron Fist he can heal Colleen. Danny heals Colleen and collapses. Bakuto and Colleen take Danny and Gao leaving Clair behind.
Episode ten begins with Danny and Colleen waking up in bed in the safest place Colleen knows. They are at Bakuto’s sanctuary, and Bakuto shows Danny footage of an Iron Fist from 1948. Harold contacts Danny, and he tells him Gao is gone. Colleen and Bakuto talk and we learn that Colleen was keeping something from Danny as Gao said last episode. Danny finds Gao in confinement and she tells him that she is being held by the Hand. (Been waiting on that one.) Colleen confirms that they are the Hand, but says that Gao is a rouge faction of the Hand. Colleen and he go back and forth about who is brainwashed. Bakuto tells Harold that he will be taking over for Gao. Danny finds the monitoring station and Bakuto is waiting for him, and they fight. Harold confronts Wilkens over pushing his children out of the company. Harold tells him to kill himself, and when he refuses, Harold kills him and makes it look like suicide. Danny and Davos try to escape the compound but Danny can’t summon the Iron Fist, they fight the Hand at the compound. Colleen opens the gate for them and the two escape. Colleen runs off as well. Joy speaks to the board and gets their jobs back. Davos wants to go home, but Danny refuses and continues to bleed from the stab wound he received by the Hand.
Episode eleven opens us showing Danny becoming the Iron Fist for the first time. Colleen goes to the dojo to look for Danny, but Bakuto is there and berates society for not helping children after the “incident” (I assume the Avengers movie). Danny goes to Claire to get stitched, but it’s too bad and she has to get a stapler. (I kid you not.) (I screamed a little) Danny tells Claire about Colleen. She gives him Luke Cage’s shirt, with the bullet hole in it. Davos tells Claire about Danny being the fist and how he shouldn’t have left. Colleen goes to a former student for antibiotics for Danny, and she turns her into the Hand. Bakuto sends her to a torture chamber where her two former students get ready to work on her. She escapes and fights her former students. Danny and Davos are waiting at the compound to carry out Harold’s plan to destroy the Hand when Danny tells Davos why he left K’un-Lun. Danny see Colleen running and goes to help her. She tries to take him out as well, enraged over realizing the Hand isn’t what she thought it was. They have a moment…in the rain…as Davos watches…still mad he isn’t Iron Fist and Danny won’t come home.
Episode twelve starts with Ward in the hospital. He’s having a rough time. Bakuto gives him an antidote for Gao’s heroin, and offers to help him. Bakuto is playing Ward against Harold. Danny and Colleen are working things out, when Davos accuses her of being with the Hand. They try to fight a few times. (Darvos is reminding me of Mordo from Dr. Strange, a stickler for the rules and traditions, and eventually goes evil.) Ward returns to Harold’s and tries to get Joy out. It goes bad and Ward gets a gun from the guard and Bakuto shows with the Hand. Things go real bad and Bakuto shoots Joy on a video call to Danny as Davos tries to stop Danny from leaving. Danny races to Harold’s to get Bakuto to let her and Harold go, who he will behead in 30 minutes if Danny doesn’t show up. Danny appears at the last second. Bakuto tells Ward and Harold how each other set the other up. Bakuto takes Danny away. Danny finally recovers his Chi, summons the Iron Fist, and as he swings at Bakuto, it disappears. Darvos and Colleen appear to make the save. They take out all the Hand but Bakuto. Bakuto talks smack to Colleen, and she accepts the challenge. Colleen stabs Bakuto in the stomach. Davos stabs Bakuto in the heart after Colleen and Danny decide to send him to jail. Davos says Danny is a failure and Danny snaps and they fight hand to hand. Danny beats him and apologizes for leaving him. Davos leaves, they turn around, and Bakuto’s body is gone. Joy gets to the hospital and Harold thanks Danny what he did for his family. The next morning Danny gets a text from Ward to get out, but it’s DEA that are storming the dojo. Harold has set them up according to Ward. Danny and Colleen run off.
Episode thirteen has Harold returning to Rand. Jeri is in Ward’s office as Harold returns. Ward wants to help. Claire is sent to meet Jeri (DEFENDERS CAN NOW UNITE!) and they go meet Colleen and Danny. All the Hand drug info was moved to be in Danny’s name. Danny has to go find Gao to prove his and Colleen’s innocence. Gao is the only person left at the compound, and she eventually tells Danny that Harold killed his parents. Danny is fighting something, apparently his Chi, and Danny tells Clair and Colleen how he heard his mom crying out for him in K’un-Lun. Ward and Danny have a face to face, and Danny has another episode that Ward witnesses. Joy goes to Rand and talks to Harold. Joy accuses Harold of lying. Joy leaves realizing Ward was telling the truth. Harold hits Ward with a golf club in the back of the head as he calls Danny telling him to call of the plan for the night. Danny goes in after the other two try to talk him out of it. Colleen follows behind, and Claire sticks to the plan. Ward is up as the fight begins (I thought he was dead,). Colleen goes to kill Harold as Harold turns at her with a gun. Danny goes full Iron Fist and punches the ground, taking everyone down, and blowing the windows out of the floor of the building. Harold runs off, chased by Danny. Ward gets the tablet, he and Collene are stuck in the debris. Harold shoots Danny in the Iron Fist hand before he can summon it. Danny and Harold fight. Harold knocks down Danny, and Danny remembers all he’s been through. Danny gets up, fights Harold again, and kicks him, sending him into a spike while Danny has another episode. Danny tells him they’re done, and he done hating him. Harold frees himself, grossly, and shoots at Danny. Danny summons the Iron Fist and blocks the shot, as Ward shoots Harold, sending him over the side of the roof of the building. Harold is cremated, Joy has left, and Danny is cleared by the DEA. Ward wants Danny to return to Rand. Danny tells Claire and Colleen that he is returning to K’un-Lun, and Claire gives them advice and leaves. Colleen is heartbroken until Danny said he wants her to come with him. Davos and Joy meet and Davos tells her that for Joy to get back her life, Danny must be killed. Joy says she is listening as Gao sits unbeknownst to them, listening and smiling. Danny finds blood and dead Hand members at the entrance to K’un-Lun. The entrance is gone, Danny is stuck on Earth, and he says it’s all his fault.
If you haven’t today, please take a second to open the Donate a Photo app by Johnson & Johnson. When you donate a photo, $1 is given to the charity of your choice, and Operation Smile is one of those charities. There are several other charities on there as well. Thanks for reading and I look forward to Defenders!