Iron Fist 1.02: “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight”
The second episode of Marvel’s Iron Fist opens with Danny (Finn Jones) in Birch Psychiatric Hospital, seeing as no one wants to believe he is the young Rand returned from death. He is greeted by a kindly-seeming doctor who quickly turns out to be a fellow patient trying to convince him to kill himself. After that harrowing experience, Danny still has to swallow his pills and stay tied to the bed – certainly not my idea of a fun Friday night.
Meanwhile, Ward (Tom Pelphrey) and Joy (Jessica Stroup) Meachum continue discussing the possibility of this stranger being Danny over at their offices. Joy wavers on his identity, but Ward remains firm that it can’t be him. Which viewers know is not something he necessarily believes, given his conversation with his secretly-alive father last episode.
Once Danny does get a real doctor – Dr. Paul Edmonds played by Murray Bartlett – in the room, Iron Fist uses him as a device to begin the flashbacks explaining what’s happened since the plane crash. However, they spend more time on Danny’s narration that on actually showing the action in real-time, which feels like a missed opportunity. In fact, it might have been a stronger choice to start the show in K’un-Lun and then have Danny come home. Given what they chose, the backstory isn’t as engaging as the present action in – where the doctor points that Danny has a Canadian passport under the name of John Anderson. Are the Meachum men going the extra mile to keep Danny from reclaiming his company?
While Danny starts with a 72-hour hold, he’s told that it’s likely the hospital will find a reason to keep him there indefinitely. It’s really a shame that he didn’t just turn to internet forums to learn what happened to his company and the world outside while he was in K’un-Lun, but Iron Fist seems to think that going from homeless to institutionalized is a shortcut for empathy. Thankfully, Danny is smart enough to call Colleen for help when he’s given the chance.
Iron Fist‘s strongest aspect so far is Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) and everything involved in her characterization. Her desire to keep the dojo open is compelling from the start, and even her fight sequences feel more natural. She finds it difficult to trust Danny, which is believable because who wouldn’t? But her journey from reluctant observer to active partner is already shaping up to be the most interesting part of the show.
Back at corporate shenanigans headquarters, Harold Meachum (David Wenham) reveals he has cameras set up to watch Danny, whom he know believes to be the real deal. He sends his son Ward, like he’s an underling, to check on Colleen and get her to turn on about Danny. But Colleen refuses to be played or bribed – she may not trust Danny, but she clearly trusts the smarmy business man even less. By turning down $50,000 she proves her moral fiber and simultaneously becomes the most complex character in the series so far. Their scenes introduce real tension into Iron Fist, as the worry over what could happen to Colleen mixes with the satisfaction of knowing she can handle herself.
Harold’s scenes with his assistant and surrogate son Kyle (guest star David Wenham) might shed some light on why Ward has such low self-esteem, but after two episodes the goal of the Meachums as a whole remains unclear. They obviously want to keep control of Rand Industries, but Danny doesn’t seem at all interested which renders their efforts moot. In the end, Harold is creating his own enemy – a trick that would work better if the Meachums were the protagonists instead of Danny. Once again, Harold’s interrogation of Danny serves as a way to explain the Iron Fist backstory without actually showing the years of training. The ending shows that the Meachums have some agenda against The Hand, which hopefully means that story will be building steadily (albeit slowly) throughout the season.
Joy is the most sympathetic of the ruthless corporate family, and considering she drugged Danny to get him sent away that’s saying something. In fact, the scene of Colleen acting as a messenger and Joy breaking down upon learning she’s hurt the real Danny was a stand out. More scenes between the two women and more exploration of the dynamics between the three of them would be a great direction for Iron Fist to take, so fingers crossed it goes there a few more times.
Danny finally manages to harness the power of the Iron Fist at the end of the episode, and while the sequence is not as long as one might expect, it’s still satisfying to see him walk out a free man. But what will he do with that freedom, and will he keep Colleen and Joy permanently on his side?
Go to the next page for a review of Iron Fist 1.03: “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch”