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TV Review: Marvel's Iron Fist - S1 Episode 4 "Eight Diagram Dragon Palm"

03.21.2017

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EPISODE 4: "Eight Diagram Dragon Palm"

SYNOPSIS: Danny makes a shocking discovery and a radical pricing proposal. Colleen's extracurricular activities go viral, and Ward issues a stern warning.

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REVIEW: The fourth episode of Iron Fist is a slight uptick in the quality compared to the previous episodes, but there needs to be much greater strides than an incremental improvement for this series to be worthy of future seasons. With the prior hour ending with an idiotic cliffhanger, this episode is forced to open with an explanation of what happened and gives us Danny Rand acrobatically surviving a fall onto a conveniently located ledge before passing out and awakening in the living room of Harold Meachum. Yeah, the mysterious paterfamilias of the Meachum clan has now been unveiled to our hero and readily shares an explanation as to his faked death. It turns out Harold was dying but was saved and rendered virtually unaged thanks to The Hand. Now, indebted to the cult-like organization, Harold Meachum is forced to use his company to further their motives including the recent purchase of a pier for their business needs. Harold welcomes Danny back like a son, forcing the jealous Ward to watch on.

After three episodes this season, Danny is now recognized as who he always claimed to be and takes his place as majority shareholder at Rand Industries. Keeping Harold's secret, Danny takes his father's office and begins attending board meetings while also researching what The Hand could want with that piece of real estate Joy negotiated for the company. In his first act, Danny hears a presentation regarding a new drug that Rand plans to mark up exponentially to make a huge profit. Danny naively demands that they sell the medicine at cost because helping people is more important than making money. The board scoffs but Ward accepts Danny's request. Taking the day to spend with Joy, Danny leaves which forces Ward's hand. He contacts a reporter under the guise of a story about Danny's return but instead trashes Danny as the worst thing to happen to Rand Industries. It is tough to tell if Ward is just a dick or if he has actual psychological issues but it is clear he despises Danny as well as the control Harold lords over him.

But what really begins to turn things around is our first major fight sequence on the show. No, I don't mean Colleen Wing's return to the fight club, this time taking on two big dudes. After a heart to heart talk with Joy in the loft provided by Jeri Hogarth's firm, Danny is confronted by a group of gangsters armed with machetes. They grab Joy and try to kidnap her and Danny gets to unleash his skills on the armed men in a hallway sequence that shares a lot in common with a similar fight from Daredevil. Whereas the fights in Daredevil were raw and brutal, the Iron Fist fights feel very choreographed. Maybe it is a testament to the difference in styles between Danny and Matt Murdock, but Iron Fist should really have above average action scenes. There is a brief glimmer when the fight moves to the interior of an elevator, bathed in red light, where Danny unleashes some cool moves as well as his iron fist technique. For an inexplicable moment, the camera does a cool split screen but then it is never used again. I was hoping for a moment that this would be a nice throwback to 70s kung fu movies but it seemed the director only thought of it as an afterthought.

What does drive Danny Rand, and keeps him in the same thematic company as Matt Murdock, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones, is his unflinching desire to do something good. Knowing that The Hand is his sworn enemy, it is a bitter pill for Danny to do anything that benefits the criminal organization. But, when his friend is in the crossfire, Danny takes it personally and confronts his attackers who operate out of a Chinese restaurant. First, Danny leaves Joy with Colleen for safety (which results in an impromptu lesson for the corporate lawyer) and then ventures to meet the gang. At first, they are not impressed by Danny but when he cites that the land Rand Industries bought from under them was on behalf of The Hand, they submit. Danny returns to get Joy, but that is not the end of the story. Back at his penthouse, Harold is cofronted by Madame Gao, making her first Netflix appearance since Daredevil's second season. She wants to know why Harold left his self-imposed prison and Gao offers him the chance for revenge. Dressing as a ninja, Harold accompanies The Hand to the restaurant where Harold kills the man who struck his daughter with a sword. He then gets a chance to see Joy for the first time in years.

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Joy now knows she needs to be careful with her company business, Ward's plan to discredit Danny backfires as the article published heralds him as a great thinker and someone who wants to do good things rather than make money. As things begin to wrap up in this hour, chess pieces begin to move. Danny is clearly torn by his actions regarding the real estate his company bought for The Hand and he continues his investigation. At Jeri Hogarth's penthouse, Danny awakens at dawn after someone knocks at his door. He finds a small box which contains a note regarding what he is seeking. Underneath the note is a small packet bearing a dragon insignia. As Danny turns to face the camera, we see the same logo tattooed on his chest. Nice ending, right?

I really wish tonight's ending had been the ending of the premiere episode. It finally feels like this season is getting some footing under it and yet there is so much that has yet to be set up. RIght now, it feels like Danny Rand versus The Hand is going to be the focal point of the season but it also could be setup for The Defenders and we will see Danny confronting a much smaller foe. After three episodes that were all over the place narratively, it is nice that this episode begins to feel more consistent in the story it is trying to tell. I am not yet convinced that Finn Jones is the right actor for this role but I continue to be impressed by the supporting cast who all do a great job and in many ways overshadow our title character. I am still very hopeful that this series is going to end up impressing me, but I am not crossing my fingers yet.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S IRON FIST: "Under Leaf Pluck Lotus" - An insidious new drug hits New York. Danny recruits Colleen for the fight, and Claire discovers that credit cards can have many uses.

Source: JoBlo.com

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