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!
After last episode showed a hint of purpose, this one felt absolutely rudderless. Stuff just happened, and there was no great feeling that any of it made sense. The developments should’ve been huge – Danny and Colleen get together, Gao is revealed to be deeply embedded in Rand-Meachum, Danny learns his father was probably not the good guy he thought, Joy (and Ward?) get ousted from their company, and Harold is killed off, as convincingly as any character who beat death once can be.
And yet, these didn’t feel like big moments. They felt like “oh, is that what we’re doing now?” because they didn’t feel driven by rational character development. Colleen and Danny’s romantic relationship seems to have appeared from nowhere. Harold’s home-butchery and subsequent murder felt like they’d been cut & pasted from schlock horror. Gao’s appearance at Rand was intriguing, but it just seemed absolutely bizarre to think that she might be working under everyone’s nose and no-one even noticed. I wouldn’t say it jumped the shark, but only because the quality’s been so variable that I don’t have a clue whether the next episode will be an improvement or even worse.
That said, this episode’s opening scene – Harold convincing two Hand goons that he didn’t know Danny is the Iron Fist and he doesn’t know he’s alive, only for Danny to blunder back into his room covered in blood and say “Harold! We need to talk.” – was genuinely hilarious. The Netflix shows in general could do with more of a sense of humour about them. Daredevil gets by on Charlie Cox’s innate lightness, but the rest, not so much.
It’s also hard not to wonder what’s actually going on with Colleen’s dojo. I’ve got my theories, but I don’t think they’re playing it quite as subtly as they could be (especially if you’ve ever read the comics and recognise one of the characters around her school). Likewise, while Netflix has been known to surprise-murder main characters (including villains) Harold’s death seems temporary at best, given that weird chamber he regularly sleeps in. I’d put money on us seeing him again.
References: Bakuto (who visits Colleen’s dojo) is a very minor Marvel character, but at this point saying too much is likely to spoil twists further on, so for now I’ll just say he first appeared in Daredevil #505 (2010) – though he died two issues later, so we’re talking minor indeed.
The Dogs of Hell are the biker gang that appeared in season two the Netflix Daredevil show, though they first appeared in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (episode 1.15, Yes Men).
Karen Page gets another mention as the person Danny spoke to at the New York Bulletin. And Gao reels off a couple of other Netflix references, talking about “men with unbreakable skin” and “the devil of hell’s kitchen”. If you need those explained to you you’re probably reading the wrong piece.
I think that’s everything. I’m hoping for a return to the Iron Fist mythology stuff in future episodes, because that’s what I’ve enjoyed most so far. And maybe a little less of the Meachums and their completely insane plotlines…