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TV Review: Marvel's Iron Fist - S1 Ep 8 "The Blessing of Many Fractures"

03.26.2017

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EPISODE 8: "The Blessing of Many Fractures"

SYNOPSIS: Danny faces his fear, and Colleen meets her match. Joy makes a hasty decision, while Ward struggles to accept his sister's admiration.

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REVIEW: The Marvel/Netflix shows are decidedly New York in theme and tone so it came as something of a surprise when Iron Fist ook a jaunt to China in this eighth episode of the season. Well, it was supposed to be China but that just means the director, Kevin Tancharoen, angled the camera just to avoid any NYC landmarks. Come on, a series with a production budget like Iron Fist is not taking day trips to China only to film at a warehouse. Needless to say, despite the change in locale, this hour of the show serves as a bit of a step back in quality after the improvements in recent episodes. That doesn't make this a bad episode but rather one that doesn't utilize it's time efficiently. Characters spend a lot of time explaining their feelings and actions rather that demonstrating. It is often frustrating when characters do things that don't seem like anything real people would do and that can take you out of the world they are trying to create.

Previously, Danny learned that Madame Gao was potentially involved with the death of his parents on their flight to Anzhou in China. While it doesn't seem that Danny is yet aware that he has been ousted from his company along with Ward and Joy, no one bothered to tell him that he couldn't take the company jet halfway around the world. But, Danny decides he must confront Gao and bring her back to face justice. Colleen, who blindly seems to accept that Danny is Iron Fist, insists she will go and get his back. After rescuing Claire Temple from The Hand, she decides to accompany them as well. All of this comes after Danny rushes to see Harold and finds him missing and blood stains on the carpet. Ward arrives with supplies to clean up the mess left from his murder of Harold but allows Danny to wallow in acceptance of the death, setting Ward free, or so he thinks. 

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You see, Ward is most definitely not okay. Through the episode, Ward seems at peace with his addictive tendancies but is now seeing blood everywhere from his shirt sleeves to elevators. No one else can see this but we can tell this is a heavy-handed reminder of Ward's guilty psyche. Ward and Joy have a lot of time together this week as they weigh whether to accept a buyout from Rand worth $100 million. The caveat is they must both accept. Ward is ready to move on with his life outside of Rand but Joy wants to fight. Ward even goes behind her back to try and take a lower payout from the Board but it is to no avail. The siblings bicker and argue but in the end Joy shows her trump card: photos of half the Board in compromising positions. Joy, without saying directly, tells Ward that Jessica Jones took the photos as backup in case Ward's pill popping turned into an issue for either of them. It is nice to see the siblings reconcile and Ward decides to tell his sister about their father. It is not until they are at the elevator at the penthouse that Ward sees blood again and decides he cannot tell Joy the truth. He berates her and leaves her standing there, shocked.

Ward and Joy's scenes could have been so much more powerful if their dialogue were not so cliche. In fact, Ward even calls out the fact that things are cliche. That is a problem. This hour was chock full of cliche moments and cheesy dialogue, mostly from Danny. As they fly to China, Danny has trouble with the turbulence on the plane. This is understandable for someone who lost their parents in a plane crash, but it takes Claire using supermarket psychobabble to calm him down. This ridiculously overwrought sequence weakens what was shaping up to be a great scene with Claire and Danny trading barbs about their romantic interests. I loved the touch of having Claire re-reading a letter from Luke Cage which is exactly the kind of subtle connections to the MCU that work. The trio eventually arrive in China and realize there isn't exactly a plan for what to do next. Danny and Colleen don their hoodies and jump the fence at the factory they presume houses The Hand's heroin after getting intel from a street beggar. This is exactly what would happen in an old school kung fu movie, so I will accept the goofiness of it and move on.

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Within the factory walls, Danny and Colleen face off against their own foes. Colleen has a sword fight with a female guard that feels straight out of CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON while Danny faces off against comic book villain Zhou Cheng. Cheng is here played by Lewis Tan who originally auditioned for the role of Danny Rand. Instead, he gets to showcase his martial arts talent as a drunken Hand thug. At first, I groaned at the idea of having someone emulate Jackie Chan from DRUNKEN MASTER, but after a few sequences you can see that Tan is a talented fighter who really sells his characters abilities even when inebriated. Danny eventually wins the fight but it once again calls into question if Danny is actually that strong of an Iron Fist. Alerted by Claire using the car horn, the trio confront Gao in the factory and fight two of her thugs. When one stabs the other by mistake, the poisoned weapons remind Danny of how the pilots of his parents' plane looked and confirms that Gao was involved in their death. Summoning his fist, Danny shatters the door behind Gao in rage but does not harm her, instead taking her back to New York.

The biggest questiions left in this episode are logistical ones: why did Gao go back to China? Was there a reason or just for convenience of plot? Why would these three make ridiculous decisions like leaving a cell phone on an armrest of a car or staying visible on an open pier outside the factory? I could go on and on, but this episode is saved by the third act action sequences which make up for the lapses in logic for the previous 45 minutes of the episode. I definitely dig this show when it is giving us fighting and plot development but I find myself rolling my eyes way more than I have with any other Marvel/Netflix series. Danny Rand stills feels like he is making stupid, impulsive choices without regard for the bigger picture. While I know he was missing for decades, there are some things that they still teach you in K'un-Lun, like common sense.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S IRON FIST: "The Mistress of All Agonies" - Madame Gao plays mind games. Ward's old habits catch up with him, and Danny discovers that he still has much to learn about being the Iron Fist.

Source: JoBlo.com

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