Marvel’s Iron Fist

Season 1, Episode 3: “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch”

Iron Fist gears up for a fight…in court?

At long last, we finally get a decent action set piece and it doesn’t happen to feature our titular kung fu master. Colleen Wing steps into the ring both figuratively and literally in “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch.” It’s not often you get prove you’re both a hypocrite and a badass in the same hour but the Daughter of the Dragon is just getting started. As Colleen seems to get ahold of her bearings, Danny loses grip on his in this cliff hanger of an episode.

Iron Fist finds some pep in its step with “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch.” I haven’t mentioned it yet but I really do dig these episode titles, and this one has to be the coolest yet. It has also been the most compelling episode yet. We are finally starting to go somewhere with this story. I know legal arguments aren’t exactly the bastion of excitement, but the plot has cornered itself into forging a way past the “I’m Danny Rand, like you see on the buildings” story by force. There really aren’t too many logical ways to do that at this point and, as it turns out, I think getting the attorneys involved is the most effective option here. In any event, the effort is welcomed. By the end we get a solid extended action scene, the return of a couple familiar faces (or in one case a shadow) and unfortunately the sustained enigmatic presence of Danny Rand. It’s not all incense and oranges but at least we’ve gained some much needed traction.


After an explosive exit from the psych ward, Danny flees to the Chikara Dojo where there’s one person who inexplicably still wants to help him out, Colleen Wing. She easily dispatches a bunch of Meachum goons (as I will continue to call them) hot on Danny’s trail and teaches them the lesson of why breaking into her dojo is a bad idea. Quick observation, Colleen seems pretty handy with a gun. I’m sure that will come into play again at some point. Colleen is becoming a fast ally of Danny’s but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s still a little unearned. But almost as if to address some of that concern, Colleen brings it up to the universe that she’s uncomfortable with the amount she’s putting herself on the line for Danny. The ensuing sparring session is clearly meant to show us that Danny is a superior warrior, but it slyly clues us in to the fact that Colleen is a quick study (as we see come to fruition later). She agrees to let him stay for a while, succumbing to Danny’s pseudo-Buddhist/Grizzly Adams allure. Thankfully she’s not so intoxicated as to overlook the need for Danny to take shower.


Colleen’s patience has its limits, however, as Danny finds out the hard way. There’s this anger inside of Danny that continues to flares up and I’m struggling to make sense of it. Maybe he is as well. Or maybe he isn’t? There’s literally no way to know for sure because the show won’t tell us anything about what makes this guy tick. Danny’s fiery emotion emerges later at the dojo, compelling him to whack one of the students with a bamboo sword. This display is promptly shut-down by Colleen, rightly so, but his extreme reaction here still baffles me. A latent manifestation of PTSD from his time in K’un L’un? It’s likely, but again, the show keeps us in the dark about what elements actually inform Danny’s actions. We are too often left guessing on that front.


It might not be about the money for Danny but it definitely is for Colleen, who we later find participating in an underground cage fight (though by the end it seems like the money is less what motivates her to participate). This happens, of course, right after scolding a student about the shame in such fighting. All hypocrisy aside, they’ve brought up her financial problems a few times now. To me, it’s fairly clear that she’s left with no other option than taking matters into her own hands. Is my forgiving nature largely due to my yearning for a dedicated fight sequence? Maybe, but this one is worth the pass. The fight employs a lot quick cuts but the action is serviceable, entertaining, and very satisfying after scant offerings so far. Colleen is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. Chiefly because I get her motivations. She’s a real life person to me; flawed, very relatable, and particularly entertaining to watch as she beats on an apparent serial biter at least twice her size.

Now onto a character that’s been hard to pinpoint this season, Joy. Securing the pier deal by way of harvesting human organs? I definitely didn’t see that one coming. Ward even seemed a little put off by that move. She’s playing both sides of the field so hard, it’s tough to truly get what drives her. It seems intentional, but the results are dubious since I’m left not caring much for her character. She continues to be troubled about what they are doing to Danny but is obligated to support Ward. Her solution ultimately is to (surprise, surprise) play both sides. While I am sympathetic to the show’s attempt to paint Joy as a very grey character, the end result so far has been a bit chaotic.


While the Meachum siblings make it out of this episode unscathed, the same can’t be said for Harold.  Is this the Hand? I was convinced that it was last episode but I didn’t think Madame Gao was in charge of the group. I guess it is possible she took over after Nobu. Well, whoever they are (probably the Hand,) they pay a visit to Harold at the penthouse and forces him to his knees. He seems utterly terrified of her and clearly subservient but we have to keep waiting to find out why. One thing is clear: the pier deal is being made at the behest of the Hand or Madame Gao. This squares away at least one way the Hand is getting its funding. They control Rand. The mystery is really building in this story line and continues to leave me with the questions I’m sure the writers intend for me to have.


Now the real show stopper here is, of course, the return of Jerri “J-Money” Hogarth who arrives just in time for some much needed legal proceedings. Seriously – this has been the smartest move Danny’s made thus far. It’s nice to see the return of a familiar face to remind us that we are in the same world as our other Defenders. She gives Danny some solid legal advice and, more importantly, makes him ditch the hipster sweats (everyone is really on him about his appearance/hygiene). It’s pretty convenient to the plot that Ward thought to destroy evidence from some obscure medical record at the same time Danny remembered it. What are the odds of that? Just a nitpick. Anyway, turns out Joy tips the scale in Danny’s favor by getting the clay pottery bowl Danny made for her as a boy to Jerri. This is a fairly apt way to resolve this matter considering the last 2 episodes. Clearly the oranges and flowers left their mark. I keep waiting for Joy to just scream out “Wild Card bitches!” and jump out the back of moving truck (Charlie Kelly style). She’s so hot and cold this episode, she’s got everyone confused as to whose side she’s on. I’ve got a feeling we are in store for a couple more flip flops from her this season.

Overall thoughts

“Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch” is not just a cool episode title. It’s actually proof that Iron Fist can deliver a solid episode. This episode is great for Colleen. She’s dealt effective character development and an entertaining action scene sorely needed, sadly, in a show about a nonpareil martial artist. While understanding Danny’s motivations is near impossible, I am comforted knowing that he’s starting to take some practical steps. Well, maybe those steps weren’t sure footed enough, considering the end of the episode sees him falling from the side of a building. There’s always a habitual tinge of anger when I see a cliffhanger but Netflix is truly the perfect vessel for them since the next episode is always 12 seconds away. Curse you Netflix and your convenient viewing format. Curse you!

By Kevin Boone

Kevin Boone is a part time writer, full time comic book movie/tv junky and professional mundane day job haver. In this saturated world of superhero content he is inundated with opinionated thoughts to share. When he's not writing about topics that have superheroes in them he's likely playing quidditch with his daughter in the living room.