Hey everyone! Another day, another Iron Fist review! As many of you know, here at the MCU Exchange we’ll be reviewing one episode per day for the next 12 days until we’ve finished giving our reviews for the first season. I’m going to get right to it, but just in case, I will say that this review will contain spoilers through episode 2. So if you want to remain spoiler-free, go watch the episode and then check back here!
After watching the first episode, I could definitely tell that this was going to be a slow burn. As Doug already mentioned, the plot of the first episode was pretty simple, and was mainly focused on introducing the audience to the characters. This episode was a nice follow up; now that we’ve been introduced to most of the principal cast at this point, the episode focused on delving deeper into the minds and motivations of the different characters. First and foremost, we got to see the effects that the plane crash had on Danny. In the first episode, Danny wasn’t able to fully recount the tragic crash to Joy because she drugged his tea. Now that he’s fully awake and aware, it was clear how haunting the ordeal still is for him. As he was telling his story to the psychiatrist, you could definitely tell how hard it was for Danny to relive the death of his parents in his mind. He was holding back tears during the whole story, and it was a very revealing look into the mind of the character. 15 years have passed, and to him, the whole incident still seems like it was yesterday. Finn Jones again delivered a great performance in this scene, and it really helped me to sympathize with Danny on a deeper level. I also thought it was equally interesting to see how Danny interacts with the psychiatrist right after telling his story:
“I’m not dangerous.” – Danny Rand
When Danny says this to the psychiatrist, it reveals a lot about his character and where he is right now emotionally. Ever since he came home, he has tried to interact with people in a calm and civil manner, but every time he acts in self defense, everyone around him has reacted to him as if he were hostile. He mentioned this when he told Ward to put the gun away in the first episode. We get a couple of those moments in this episode when he tells the psychiatrist and Colleen on two separate occasions that he’s not dangerous. He reacts with such a childlike confusion when people see him as a threat to them personally when they see what he’s capable. This aspect of Danny’s character shows that he still has a lot of faith in humanity, and reveals that he is confused when people don’t believe the best in him. This definitely stands in stark contrast to his fellow Defender, Jessica Jones, and seeing them interact together in a team dynamic this summer should be an interesting dynamic.
Another aspect I really liked about this episode was the emphasis on the fact that Danny Rand is a man without a home. The first episode showed that after spending 15 years missing and presumed dead, he wasn’t welcome upon his return to the city where he was born and raised. Even in his interactions with Big Al, he seemed to feel like he was an outcast. Al assumed he was just another homeless guy and welcomed Rand into his community, but it’s apparent that Danny sees himself as very different, and doesn’t feel like he fits in with Al. The scenes in the hospital during this episode really brought this home again for me when Simon brings Danny into his room and tells him that this is his new home. Danny is quick to come back and say that he won’t be here long. IT was a very brief moment, but it was an interesting little character moment, almost reminiscent of Captain America and his struggle to find a home after the ice.
We also got to see more development for Colleen in this episode, really showcasing her leadership abilities, as well as her skills in martial arts. That training scene with her students showed that she’s definitely a hard taskmaster, but she genuinely cares for her students. It’s also readily apparent that her students all respect and look up to her as a teacher. During the very brief fight scene, it was also clear that she was pulling her punches because she was dealing with her students. It’ll be awesome to see Colleen in an actual life or death situation to see all that she’s capable of doing in a fight.
The last character dynamics I want to talk about are the relationships we see with the Meachums. We were first introduced to the father-son relationship between Ward and Harold in the first episode, but this time around we get a deeper look into the reasons behind the two men’s actions. First off, David Wenham’s performance as Harold Meachum is again worth noting, as he is thus far one of the most compelling characters in the series in my opinion. He has a brief speech that he gives to Kyle about his father, and how he used to beat Harold when he was a child, forcing him to apologize for making his father exert himself. It was a short piece of dialogue, but it started to help us connect the dots and make sense of Harold and how he deals with his own son.
Similarly, we got to see that Ward seems to have a bit of a problem with drugs or pills of some sort, but I’m sure that will come up again later on in the season. It makes sense, especially since Ward has such a strained relationship with his father, despite having to work with him closely on a daily basis. Lastly, this episode really starts to draw some clear lines separating Ward and Joy as very different characters.
“We’re not bad guys if that’s what you’re thinking” – Ward Meachum
Every villain is the hero of their own stories; it’s an old cliche phrase, but it’s lasted because it’s got some truth to it. Ward, despite his sketchy past with Danny, still honestly thinks that what he’s doing with Danny’s situation is right. He stands by his decision to keep Danny in the hospital, even after Joy comes to the conclusion that Danny is really telling the truth about who he is. While the first episode started to make me think that Ward and Joy were really similar, it’s apparent that the show is starting to draw some lines between the siblings. Joy is starting to show us that she has a conscience, whereas Ward is drifting more and more towards whatever best serves his father’s interests. It’s an interesting dynamic that I’m excited to see develop over the course of the season.
Finally, let’s talk about that last scene. Thus far, we’ve only seen Danny retaliate in self-defense. As Doug pointed out in our last review, it’s very apparent that Danny is very intentional in his fighting at this point in the show. Every time Danny has gotten into a fight, he’s only acted in self-defense, and he’s obviously pulling his punches. The first time he was assaulted in the hospital this was very apparent, but it’s not until the last scene that we start to really see him let go and fight like only he can. All throughout the first two episodes, we’ve seen Danny almost lose his temper and then back down, but in this last scene, he let his rage loose and cleaned house. It was a satisfying little fight scene, and also gave us our first look at the Iron Fist in action. I also thought that the camera focus fading in and out was really effective in showing Danny’s disorientation and haziness due to the drugs the doctors have had him on the whole episode.
4 creepy window hand prints out of 5. I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical coming into the second episode of the series. The first episode, while solid story-wise, was slow. I know that a lot of people said that about Luke Cage, and I understand where they’re coming from. What made that work for me was the interesting character dynamics set up immediately between Luke and Pop. The first episode was a slow burn, but it served its ultimate purpose in establishing some crucial character dynamics right off the bat. Iron Fist however, seemed to drag on a little too long for me in its first episode. I felt that the story of the son of a billionaire family getting lost in a plane crash and returning from the dead was a bit worse for wear at this point in the game for this genre. But after watching this second episode, I have to say that my mind has been changed, and I think that the series is looking up. This second episode was likewise light on action, but I believe that this is intentional, and there will be a big showcase of the Iron Fist’s full power later on. We got a small taste of what Danny can do as the Iron Fist, but I’m convinced that this little scuffle and escape scene was just an appetizer, and I’m betting that we have an even bigger action piece on the way to fully unleash the power of the Immortal Weapon.
- We finally got the names of the two monks who rescued Danny in the Himalayas: Chodak and Tashi.
- Order of the Crane Mother name-dropped, look forward to seeing Madame Gao appear pretty soon.
- In the psychiatric hospital, Simon mentions that Dink, one of the patients, killed his parents with a hammer. Remind you of any philanthropic kingpins we’ve seen before?
- Where did that creepy handprint and message come from?
- Danny mentions that he is the only one who can defeat the Hand…but we’re guessing that he may need some help from a certain group of Defenders
- Five years later, and we’re still getting references to “The Incident,” but I guess that’s not something you forget easily.
- Ward’s caller ID lists Harold as “Frank N. Stein,” that’s not ominous at all…