Marvel’s Iron Fist
Season 1, Episode 2: “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight”
Iron Fist shows us that freedom is only a punch away.
I have to say upfront, waking up in a psychiatric ward and being told I’m crazy is a frequent reoccurring nightmare of mine. Unfortunately for Danny Rand the nightmare is real in “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight.” The second episode of the series continues at a snail’s pace but we do finally get to see why he is indeed called the Iron Fist.
Can mental facilities really be this bad? How about not letting your violent patients roam unsupervised, let alone allow them access to rooms where other violent patients are being held. I mean, just on principle right? Not to mention the place is crawling with Meachum goons too, I guess. Not good. One thing is for sure, Hollywood still has it out for the profession of psychiatry. We at least make significant gains in the “I am Danny Rand” story line, though I’m sure it’ll persist in some form.
I think “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight” meant to answer the question posed in all premieres: “Why should you care about this story or its main character?” Well, they really don’t give us that answer here. They do give us the impression that they are afraid to flash back to Danny’s time in K’un-Lun just yet, which is aggravating since it’s where we’ll likely get some of those answers. Whatever their reason for stalling, Iron Fist struggles to make a compelling case for itself in the meantime. Though this episode does keep the boat afloat, I worry that the fuel keeping the binge on track is my familiarity with the subject matter, not the merits of the performances and story. While it is waning, I still have hope in Finn Jones’ abilities to deliver but this episode sadly leaves us knowing far less about Danny Rand’s motivations than I’d like.
There are some worthwhile elements that get laid out in this episode. Ward still sucks (go figure) but more importantly Harold’s situation continues to draw my attention. Villains in general have been among the strongest features in the Marvel Netflix universe. Kingpin in Daredevil, Kilgrave in Jessica Jones and Cottonmouth in Luke Cage all received pretty much universal acclaim. Harold looks to be the true villain here. Hopefully he can measure up. In other related news, the Hand finally rears its head (or in this case, palm) this episode, as we knew they would. The shadowy ninja cults have been keeping tabs on Harold, apparently, and are likely the reason why he doesn’t leave the penthouse. He makes an exception, of course, for Danny which the Hand doesn’t take too kindly to. Though if Harold is looking for a way out of his current predicament I’m going to assume that a super-fisted kung fu master that’s sworn to defeat said oppressors is an enticing enough option for him. What that will mean for Danny is still unclear, maybe it’ll at least mean less attempts on his life, that is, unless Ward continues to have a say on things.
The psych ward sequence ultimately culminates with principal characters all realizing that Danny is truly the heir of Rand. I’m glad to know the show is pivoting from the plot, especially given this development has to unpackaged Joy Meachum a bit. She’s been straddling the line of foe or friend, so where she lands after this revelation will be very interesting. I appreciate the shades of grey “Shadow Hawk Takes Flight” paints the Meachums. Ward, darker and more amoral. Joy, a little lighter and more sympathetic. Their relationship dynamic is still confusing, though. Joy says she’ll follow Ward’s lead on what to do with Danny but seems to undermine that sentiment with the M&M test. Ward doesn’t particularly seem to care about the validity of Danny’s claim at all. He’s more concerned about ensuring his own financial security more than anything else. Then there’s the Harold’s concerns about the Hand, which Ward seems in denial about and Joy on the other hand (heh) is likely unaware of their existence at all. It’s probable Joy has been left in the dark about her father’s current status as well.
I was curious to see how Colleen came back into this thing, being somewhat dubious about her introduction. She apparently has a bigger heart than I gave her credit for to involve herself further with Danny. Even more so now, given Rand Enterprise’s interests in him. There’s also that weird scene where her students stage a mock gang attack scenario in which she single handled disrupts their efforts and chastises them for not performing better. Now, what lesson could they possibly learn from that other than how to outnumber someone? It seems like a strange way to tell the audience Colleen can take on more than one adversary at a time. In any event, she helps Danny get through to Joy, which coincides with his psychiatrist also arriving at the truth about his identity.
They’ve certainly established Danny is naive but in what world would someone of sound mind think, given Danny’s current situation, that this would be the ideal place and time to unload the full weight of the mystical reality that was his last 15 years? Maybe he thought, “Well, the Hulk exists now so this guy should be able to buy this, too.” It was quite a bizarre exchange but also a fairly entertaining one to watch. The look on Danny’s face when the doctor called him by his name, you could tell the doctor had gained his full confidence at that moment. It was actually kind of sad watching Danny try to explain the details of what happened in K’un-Lun, knowing there’s no way the doctor would believe the story.
This episode also introduced a fairly effective way to disrupt Danny’s ability, mind altering drugs (Hey would be villains, here’s a pretty easy way to stop that pesky glowing fist thing). Speaking of which, we finally get to see this power he’s been talking about and it’s pretty impressive. I know that smirk he gives after demolishing the door was sufficient enticement for me to queue up the next episode.
“Shadow Hawk Takes Flight” is not without flaws but it is an improvement over the premiere. The focus on Danny this episode was still not enough to give us a clear insight into his motivations. The progression past whether he is or isn’t Danny is refreshing and Harold continues to steal the show. Things are on an upward trajectory and that’s certainly not the worst place to be after a shaky start. Here’s hoping for more kung fu action next episode. But like seriously, though, more kung fu.