These viewing notes contain spoilers.
Iron Fist, the fourth and final member of the Defenders, has finally made his debut. As with previous Netflix series, we’ll be reviewing an episode a day highlighting the characters, reference points and easter eggs we spotted. Feel free to read along as you watch too, but please don’t spoil future episodes for anyone in the comments!
Episode twelve was surprising in many ways, as Danny appears to achieve his goal of finishing off Bakuto and banishing The Hand from New York – which I guess is what he was working towards, at least recently – before being strung up by Harold, who turns out to be the season’s real ultimate villain.
It’s frankly baffling how often Harold (and the Meachums in general) flip-flopped over whether they wanted someone dead/gone/ousted or not, and this episode continues that noble tradition. I get that these guys are family, but all they seem to do is dick each other over constantly, and next time they meet just go straight back to being pals again. This must be especially confusing for Joy, who had no idea her brother was a drug addict and that their dad was alive like a week ago, and now she’s out there getting shot to prove a point.
The episode’s big turning point saw Danny declare that he is both the Iron Fist and Danny Rand, which gave him the confidence he needed to access his Chi. Or rather, I guess it did – there’s not a huge amount of interiority to Finn Jones’ performance and in the absence of external factors, there must’ve been something other than “well he’s recharged now.” But I have to be honest, I didn’t really see much in the text or the performance that explained why Danny lost his powers, and why they came back, and then why they left again.
Colleen, at least, got to find out that Bakuto was a dick and then finish him off. Or at least, as much as these shows allow. Their plan to not kill him because “then we’re no better than them” really didn’t work for a show that has already shown plenty of apparent deaths and has multiple heroes who’ve expressed no apparent code against killing in combat. Similarly, the plan to turn Bakuto in to the police would make a lot more sense if they didn’t know the Hand has people everywhere. I mean, at least plan to take him to K’un L’un or something?
Again, we got a couple of actually decent fights out of this episode, though it’s more because there were actual stakes for the characters involved than in the choreography. That Davos Vs. Danny fight was probably my favourite yet, though I think I might have been rooting for Davos to win. Danny’s competence when it comes to fighting seems entirely unearned, even now. It’s not like they even went the route of “his anger is actually what makes him better” – he just won because it’s his name on the title card.
Comics wise… Bakuto’s death happened just two issues after his first appearance, in Daredevil #507. He hasn’t come back to the comics since, as far as I’m aware, but the fact he was put in this show (and that he’s a member of The Hand) means I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Resurrection is their thing, after all.
I guess Davos is gone now too, which means we’ll probably not see him get his Steel Serpent identity in this series at least. As much as I try to love Marvel’s TV shows, I wish they’d go in a bit harder on the costumed villains. Or, for that matter, villains in general. If this episode proves anything, it’s that a fight with a named character is way more satisfying than watching Danny and pals bust the heads of faceless guys with guns.