While rather brief, the portrayal of Danny Rand in season 2 of Luke Cage was received by fans much better than his portrayal in The Defenders and in his own show.  So, the question going into season 2 of Iron Fist is how are they going to overcome the less than stellar reception that the character has received.

The season begins with an action set piece where Danny deftly takes out some criminals.  The coolest part of this sequence was probably the opening when Danny stares down the driver of the truck while wearing a green hoodie with a yellow mask before disabling the vehicle.  Once the fight begins we see Danny take out the criminals using his Kung fu and end the fight by using the power of the Immortal Iron Fist.  The use of his powers in this scene was done pretty well and the street signs shaking after he punched the ground was a really neat detail.  However, Finn Jones seemed to be pulling his punches a lot during this sequence.  Which doesn’t bode well since that was a pretty big criticism of the first season.  With a show centered around a martial arts expert, it would be nice if when Danny hits a guy it looked like the enemy was actually hurt, not just falling back.

Once Danny comes home we meet up with Colleen, played by Jessica Henwick, who has been working at a center that helps lower income families.  A somewhat less violent profession than she’s accustomed to.  Although while working at the center she finds a box with her family emblem and begins investigating.  This puts her in pretty close proximity to the war brewing between the Triads.  Colleen and Danny then get put on their radar when one of the Triads, called The Tigers, are called to protect a restaurant from some young gangsters.

Danny tries to stall The Tigers while Colleen fights the kids trying to get them to leave for their own safety.  Danny’s stalling tactics aren’t the best and when they attack he easily takes out the remaining guys.  An interesting moment during this scene was when Danny was about to punch one of The Tigers with his glowing fist, but Colleen stops him.  So perhaps Danny will have some control issues that he’ll have to grapple with this season.  This could be an interesting development for a character that’s so heavily connected to meditation and tranquility.  But hopefully if they do explore Danny’s temper, it won’t be a rehash of what we saw with Luke Cage a few months ago.

This episode also introduced Alice Eve‘s character Mary Walker.  She first meets Danny on the street and shows him some of her photographs.  Once she gets home, Mary finds some strange notes left in her apartment saying not to leave the house or move things around.  This causes her to have a pretty extreme panic attack.  For fans of the comics who are familiar with Typhoid Mary, it’s not too hard to figure out who’s leaving the notes and why she’s so freaked out by them.  Hopefully her afflictions won’t take too long to be revealed.  But I’m excited to see what direction they take the character in the coming episodes.

Meanwhile Joy (Jessica Stroup) invites Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Danny to her new apartment and offers a deal to buy out her remaining stock in Rand Enterprises.  Ward gets incredibly offended and he refuses to sign, but since Danny has 51%, it doesn’t matter.  Danny object to signing because he wants her to be happy.  When Joy hears this she seems to have some doubts because it’s pretty clear that Danny is a good guy.  But she still believes that, by coming back to the world, he’s stolen what rightfully belongs to her.  Which is why she’s found an ally in Davos who believes that Danny stole his birthright of becoming the Iron Fist.  Along with Colleen Wing, Davos continues to be one of the most compelling character on the show, and that’s mostly due to the portrayal by Sacha Dhawan who brings an unmatched intensity to the role.

Davos confronts Danny after meeting with Joy and offers him a compromise: make things right by giving up the Iron Fist.  Danny refuses saying that he won his powers fairly and used them to destroy The Hand.  But Davos argues that in doing so he left K’un-Lun undefended.   After Danny wins their quick fight, Davos confesses to Joy that he has renewed conviction in their mission and that Danny wouldn’t stand a chance against him if they were actually fighting.  Their conversation raises some interesting questions, like is it actually possible for the Iron Fist powers to be transferred to Davos like he implied?  If so, I’m sure that plays a big part in whatever Davos and Joy are planning.

VERDICT

3 axes out of 5.  

After the reception of the first season, Iron Fist needed to do some extra work to show fans that it’s of the same caliber as the other Marvel Netflix shows.  And unfortunately this episode didn’t exactly do that.  The fight choreography (which should be breathtaking since the show is centered around martial arts) still leaves a lot to be desired and most of the episode seemed to be filled with setting up the rest of the season.  But of course they still have another 9 episodes left so even though the opening episode wasn’t a declaration that necessary changes were made, there’s still a lot of time to see improvements as the season continues.

ONE-SHOTS

  • Danny working for a moving company is a natural development for the character and his justification to Ward makes a lot of sense.
  • Colleen and Danny seem to have a pretty good relationship.  She’s not upset that he puts himself in danger because she knows he’s helping people.  And throughout the episode Danny seems very supportive of her work at the center and helps push her to continue investigating the reappearance of her family heirloom.
  • Hopefully Ward gets more to do this season because he was very compelling last season and had a great arc, so it would be a shame if he’s stuck on the sidelines while bigger things are happening.
  • One obvious improvement between the first episode of this season compared to the first episode of last season is that Danny is much less annoying.  He didn’t once declare, “I am the Immortal Iron Fist and Protector of K’un-Lun.”  Which is a huge plus in my book.