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TV Review: Marvel's Iron Fist - S1 Episode 5 "Under Leaf Pluck Lotus"

03.22.2017

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EPISODE 5: "Under Leaf Pluck Lotus"

SYNOPSIS: An insidious new drug hits New York, Danny recruits Colleen for the fight, and Claire discovers that credit cards can have many users.

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REVIEW: Danny Rand is an idiot. I mean that in the best possible sense since he could kick the shit out of me if he were a real person. But, from a purely intelligence standpoint, Rand is not a very smart guy. There is a distinction between street smarts and book smarts but I am not convinced Rand has much of either. Case in point, tonight's corporate snafu involving a Rand Industries branch accused of polluting a residential area and causing childhood cancer amongst the locals. Joy and Ward do their thing as there is no proof against Rand but then Danny gets caught on camera taking the blame as any decent hero would. We all want our heroes to be noble and just, but Danny Rand just seems completely oblivious to the reality around him. As a person, I like Danny, but as a character he seems very heavy-handed in his creation and execution. That is in contrast to what Danny does as a hoodie-clad ninja later in the episode, but in a nutshell, this hour is frustrating as it is both another improvement over the prior hours and stalled in the logic department.

Opening with a trio of sexy women clad in power suits, this fifth episode finally begins to get our main plot on track. The women work for The Hand and they are selling to both medical facilities and criminal syndicates. Their product is a new form of heroin emblazoned with the Iron Fist dragon logo. More powerful than standard drugs, this heroin will be The Hand's gateway to taking control of New York City. Of course, this becomes Danny's primary mission and he needs to bring Colleen along with him. Ward is not quite ready for the reality of what his father has gotten them into which is pretty significant for the character. Up until now, Ward has seemed like a smooth talking villain, but in reality he is as weak in constitution as expected. That is why when the pills he has been popping all season run out, he opts to try the packet of drugs Danny left behind as proof. In keeping with the heavy-handedness of the rest of this season, we can expect this to be the turning point for Ward from douche to full on bad guy.

But despite any complaints I may have about aspects of this episode, it is immediately worth the time thanks to the return of Rosario Dawson. Claire Temple has long been called the Nick Fury of the Netflix branch of the MCU but she is so much more than that. Claire has been a vital character in each series she has appeared in, mainly so in Luke Cage, but here she serves a different purpose. We first see Claire as she trains with Colleen Wing and then tags along for an impromptu lunch date set up by Danny to convince Colleen to help him find proof that The Hand is using Rand trucks to transport their drugs. The awkward lunch with Claire looking on as Colleen's burgeoning feelings for Danny begin to come to the surface is priceless. But by episode's end, Claire has her hands dirty and bloody after things go south for Danny and Colleen. Dawson fully inhabits her role and is possibly the most developed character from any of these series. She has grown from being just a nurse who helps Matt Murdock to someone who has witnessed puzzle pieces surrounding The Hand's infection of New York City. All of these pieces are bound to finally come together to set up The Defenders.

The scene that really earns this episode my best score of the season so far is the setpiece started when Danny and Colleen investigate the pier. Clad in dark clothes and using their skills to remain in the shadows reminded me quite a bit of the first season of Daredevil. What is great about the pairing of Danny and Colleen is the fact that they are on somewhat equal footing as fighters which makes them more believable as a duo. As they sneak onto the trucks supposedly carrying the drugs, Danny gets himself locked in and locates a false room. Inside is the scientist who developed the designer drug and Danny realizes they smuggled in the cook and not the recipe. Fighting a guard, the scientist gets shot which forces Danny to use his iron fist to bust out of the runaway truck where Colleen is waiting in a pursuant truck. While not the most impressive fight, the action is pretty thrilling and definitely ups the ante compared to what we have seen in the prior hours of the show.

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Claire also gets to shine as she MacGyvers one of Danny's credit cards to serve as a makeshift diaphram for the injured scientist. Now that they barely have kept him alive, the trio need to figure out what comes next. The guard who shot the scientist gets his own as Madame Gao kills him with a blade hidden in her walking stick, another reminder that the old woman is far from a frail figure. Joy also comes across Ward who is as high as a kite, his father's domineering requests and the stress of dealing with Danny Rand finally taking their toll on him. The question that remains is how will these characters move forward with their new situations. Will Joy discover the truth about Ward and her father? Will Danny face off against The Hand sooner or later? Will the scientist survive? Believe me when I say we don't have to wait very long for some of those answers.

While I don't need every episode of a Marvel/Netflix series to be full of action scenes, the appeal of Iron Fist is seeing Danny Rand flex his muscles. The showrunners definitely are trying a slow burn with showing us who exactly The Hand are but the mistake is that viewers have already learned that on two seasons of Daredevil. Overall, this episode is the best of the first half of the season and finally kicks up the intensity and delivers some stakes for all of the characters, not just Danny. If the prior episodes had been condensed and we had gotten to this outing sooner, I guarantee this season would be getting a lot more critical acclaim.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S IRON FIST: "Immortal Emerges From Cave" - Danny receives an invitation likes no other. Colleen and Claire face a difficult choice. Joy confronts her brother.

Source: JoBlo.com

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