This episode in many ways deserved to be the finale of the show. The Davos and Danny face-off felt like the most important fight of the season, even though Davos only appears in the tail end episodes. Overall the situation had a feeling of climax. Both Wing and Danny have their one on one tussles. The rain-soaked setting is theatrical. When all is said and done it was the episode that felt the most satisfying emotionally as well, until the sudden plot twist at the end of the episode.
Her role hasn’t always been the best written, but Jessica Stroup has acted most of it pretty gamely. While it makes zero sense that she wouldn’t be smart enough to see Harold is a mess, Stroup does play the loving, doting daughter convincingly. Her trip down memory lane with Harold, talking about his cancer treatments, helps fans to see a little humanity in the family. The family has ups and downs throughout the series, but the series is more compelling when the triad of Meachums have some realistic warmth to them.
One of the better aspects of this episode is that it is filled with action. Almost the entire final 20 minutes is devoted to set pieces. First Danny escaping from the Hand, then Colleen fighting Bakuto, and then Danny and Davos. It isn’t all the best of choreography, but it still is action filled in a series that too often is lacking action. This willingness to give fans what they want is a major factor in why this episode will get my best rating of the four I’m reviewing. Some of the high jumps and wire work are particularly fun.
Many reviewers, including myself, have discussed how frustrating it is that the Iron Fist isn’t great at martial arts. Davos’ complaints about Danny taking the mantle are less concerning when Danny manages to win a fight between the two. Then again, viewers are still going to wonder how Davos is losing giving the obvious way Sacha Dhawan moves in a more believable fashion. Even Danny’s bravado, “I kicked your ass in K’un Lun and I’ve done it again!” just grates on the nerves. Only a petulant child like Danny would deal with a hurting friend (with completely valid concerns about their homeland) in such an adolescent way. Danny’s winning of the Iron Fist continues to be an ironic metaphor for the question of how Finn Jones won the role of Danny Rand.
On the writing side, there is some great work on the issue of fatherhood and father wounds. Most glaringly obvious is Harold brutally informing Ward that he is nothing but a disappointment. The sentiment seems spite more than honest evaluation, but how could any father have that much spite for his son? Joy is clearly irrational because she was so desperate to be with her father again. Bakuto plays similar parental mind games with Colleen, doubting her ability as a warrior. He then also messes with Danny, saying “Is this who your father raised you to be?” Davos is struggling with why his father selected Danny instead of himself. The thematic links are strong but not obvious until a second watching. This theme of what it feels like to be orphaned (even if just emotionally) is something the show does well. It’s a shame the writers couldn’t make it more prominent and well defined. A little more of Colleen’s life, as well as some more scenes with Wendell Rand, could have been good.
Looking to the future the Danny and Davos tension is great. A second season along the lines of the “Immortal Iron Fist”‘s storyline, in which Danny fights the champions from the other Cities of Heaven, would be great. (It’s no accident that the sixth episode which most closely matches the idea is probably the best.) A series of battles between the Iron Fist and other champions, leading up to a rematch with Davos as the Steel Serpent would be fantastic and have emotional weight. Marvel needs to make that season happen and now! Also, can we stop resurrecting Hand leaders? Between Nobu, Elektra, Harold Meachum, and now maybe Bakuto, it’s just too much. Death shouldn’t be cheap in the MCU, and there should be resource limits to the Hand’s ability to bring multiple people back.
Four Final Showdowns out of Five. Frankly, no episode of this series reaches the heights of five out of five. But this episode is one of the three or four stand-outs in the season. The plot is streamlined and action filled. Some of the Meachum stuff gets annoying, and the end twist feels unnecessary. Altogether, however, the episode is lean and exciting. The yoga dance between the leads at the end also felt right for the characters.
Creepy Harold is really creepy! Stil cartoonish, but the cannibal hallucinations at the start of the episode were pretty terrifying.
A couple little plot nonsense things happen in this episode. Danny and Colleen are soaking wet at the end of the previous episode and dry mere moments later in this one. And the rain goes from pouring to off to pouring in 45 minutes. More shockingly, Harold and Ward leave the apartment in the middle of the night as Danny, Colleen, and Davos leave. Those three fight in the rain in blackest night. Yet somehow it takes the Meachums hours to make it to the hospital, as its morning when they arrive and call Danny. The timeline of the episode is just a mess.
Apparently, Wong and Joy Meachum have the same taste in music. “Looking so crazy in love.”
“Who’s Kyle?” Just the redshirt of all redshirts, Joy. He never had a chance.
One little bit of martial arts awesomeness comes when Colleen’s sword is shattered. As part of the blade falls from the sky she kicks it into Bakuto’s leg. So cool!
Returning to a previous complaint, the return of the Iron Fist is so arbitrary. Danny suddenly has it when he’s in cuffs, but it disappears after he’s out. Then in his angriest moment, it appears, even though we’ve heard his unresolved anger has been hindering it. This whole thing just doesn’t make sense.