Marvel’s Iron Fist
Season 1, Episode 8: The Blessing of Many Fractures
Iron Fist goes to China looking for a foe but finds his resolve.
Iron Fist takes the show on the road in its eighth installment. Danny embodies the viewers, I believe, in his uncertainty this episode. He may not be sure about what he’s going to do when he gets there but he’s going nevertheless. Honestly, that’s my feelings on this season as a whole so far. I’m not sure what I’m going to get as Iron Fist races towards its final act (all the while flirting with its subdued potential) but at this point I’m determined to see it through to the end.
“The Blessing of Many Fractures” offers us something similar to what Danny offers Claire and Colleen: an ultimatum. It’s clear there’s a reluctance here to explain why Danny is such an irrational actor but he is, so either we board a flight that has been known to crash or we should all back out now. It’s a dirty trick because if you’ve made it this far, you’re likely in it for the long haul, but realizing this must sound overly pessimistic. I should qualify my thoughts. I actually enjoyed this episode; it illuminates the potential Iron Fist has. As far as the series goes, this is a good showing but it unfortunately had the added affect of clarifying things for me. I, like Danny, had maybe an unfounded expectation for how things should unfold in this series. The notions I’ve had about potential course corrections seem to be something Iron Fist is uninterested in. Now I find myself feeling much more like how Gao must feel by the end of this episode: trapped.
With bustling anxiousness, I wanted to see how the events of last episode changed Ward. Well, it turns out not all that much yet. He gets a chance to show Danny some impressive natural acting instincts, though; Danny could just be super gullible. In any event Ward allows Danny to convince himself that he caused Harold’s death. I must say, if this whole act was impromptu, which is seems to be, it really couldn’t have gone much smoother for Ward. But for Ward getting away with patricide (technically re-patricide) isn’t enough. He promptly gets to work on pushing his only remaining family member away too (more on that later.)
Danny, Colleen and Claire are on the way to China in order to track down Madame Gao. It’s continually frustrating to watch Danny show such ineptitude when dealing with the Hand. For a monk trained in burying emotions he seems to solely act on them. It’s a reoccurring theme in this episode. Claire points this out a few times. She actually has adopted this maternal instinct when it comes to Danny. I also keep wondering why she hasn’t offered to call in Daredevil yet for the assist. Danny would likely turn it down out of childish pride but Matt seems like the more capable hero for this fight. On the flight, Colleen comes to Danny’s aid against Claire’s criticism. She suggests that it’s not as easy as Claire may think to control one’s impulses if it were their parents who were murdered, especially if you happen to be the Iron Fist. This concept, however, seems to contradict the whole controlling body, mind, and spirit thing that’s been beaten into Danny for the last fifteen years. Granted, in this particular situation, revenge and duty appear to go hand in hand. Given her double agent status though, we have to entertain the possibility that Colleen may be pushing for Danny to kill Gao to serve her own agenda.
Rosario Dawson’s Claire continues to be a wonderful addition to the show. Her presence makes every episode better. The way she transitions from being very critical of Danny’s motivations for going after Gao to being instrumental in calming him during a panic attack is seamless and believable. Danny, however, continues to boggle the mind. How can he be K’un-Lun’s champion protector and also unable to handle a bit of turbulence? The show wants me to simultaneously believe he’s mastered his emotions while he constantly succumbs to them. It’s really not working…
Joy takes the lead and is actually the only one putting in work to save the trio’s positions at Rand. Ward spends the episode trying to solidify a settlement and Danny, I imagine, is unaware of the situation entirely. The siblings have been working against one another for a lot of this season. To be fair to Joy, she didn’t expect that what she was doing would go against Ward’s interest. And what’s more, she gets results. While it’s not expressly said, we can assume Jessica Jones is the investigator that gets all the dirt on the Rand board members, which is great to see. I had expected Jessica would be working only “hero” like cases. Though I’m sure Joy offered a pretty penny for her services. When will people with a lot of money to lose realize it’s a bad idea to carry on extramarital affairs? Anyway, for siblings that are supposed to be so close, Ward is continually impressed by his sister’s competence. As she said, she worked to get where she is and wasn’t handed the keys to the castle. Ward should’ve realized why she’s so reluctant to give up Rand without a fight.
Side Note: I keep wondering who’s going to spill the beans to Joy about Harold. I was leaning initially towards Danny but it’s becoming more and more likely that it’ll be Ward. He hasn’t exactly been candid about things lately and now, what’s he got lose? Well, I guess beside Joy’s confidence in his sanity. On second thought, he shouldn’t say anything.
Once we get to China, Danny continues to not have a plan. Ultimately he chooses to storm the gates after Gao arrives. He also mistakenly takes the drunkard at the entrance as simply that, but he proves himself to be a master of the Drunken Fist style. I’ve always been a fan of this style of fighting. It’s so brilliant and can seriously undermine even the most disciplined fighters. The inclusion here is quite entertaining and, surprisingly, doesn’t occur at night. The fighter, Zhou Cheng, is particularly great to watch as well. He strikes these nonsensical poses in some parts that are pretty fun to watch. His style stands in the face of everything Danny claims he’s achieve during the last fifteen years. He is, of course, eventually bested by Danny, who almost succumbs to emotions again and nearly beating Zhou to death. Claire talks him down and, ultimately, Danny finds and captures Gao, but not before revealing his ability to Claire and Colleen and uncovering that Gao did, in fact, kill his parents. Again he battles with his emotions, holding back the full force of the Iron Fist just before demolishing Gao’s face. Now with Madame Gao in their custody our team finally has a bargaining chip to play. Though I’m sure Danny has no plan for how to leverage it yet.
“The Blessing of Many Fractures” is a very revealing episode. We come away understanding things about Iron Fist that I’m not even sure the writers intended. This episode clarified for me, at least, that things are not likely going to change course in terms of strengthening the narrative. I’m sure we will eventually get the flashback to K’un-Lun but it will undoubtedly be a “too little, too late” situation. Meanwhile, the plot will continue to hang in the balance, having potential but routinely falling short of the mark. This episode makes it clear that they intend to continue to straddle this line, whether it’s intentional or not all the way through to the conclusion. They are not taking the risks I hoped would correct the missteps of the first part of the season. It’s spinning its wheels in the thing that most holds it back: Danny Rand. I hate to dwell on this realization since the episode itself had awesome action with even Claire getting in the mix. It also offered something to chew on with the Meachum story line. On the plus side, we will finally get to see what Gao has to say for herself and whether Danny can keep the bigger picture in mind while they are currently leading in the small game. But knowing Danny, probably not…