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TV Review: Marvel's Iron Fist - Season 1 Finale "Dragon Plays With Fire"

03.31.2017

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EPISODE 13: "Dragon Plays With Fire"

SYNOPSIS: n a desperate search to clear his name, Danny learns a terrible truth that places him on a new path.

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REVIEW: Watching the finale of Iron Fist reminded me a great deal of Marvel's other mystical MCU character introduced last year. In DOCTOR STRANGE, the title character's reluctance to take over the mantle passed onto him after generations of more worthy predecessors ends with him besting the villain and preparing for the next phase of his destiny. All the while, his former friend and ally turns against him as a potential foe in future installments. The difference is that DOCTOR STRANGE at least unfolded organically whereas Iron Fist feels like it stops right when it was starting to get some momentum. Alas, this final episode of Iron Fist's freshman run cannot quite make up for the mediocre season that preceeded it. 

With Bakuto dead and Danny on the run from the DEA, Harold Meachum fulfills his return to public life and reveals to the world and Rand Enterprises that he is alive. Ward is caught in the middle as he tries to help Danny by telling Jeri Hogarth what Harold has done. At the same time, Joy is recovering in the hospital but will not forgive her brother for trying to kill their father. Ward promises her that Harold is not the man they once knew but Joy refuses to believe it. Danny is enraged to learn that Harold has set him up and that everything going back to the plane crash was because of him and not just The Hand. Danny's anger is visual represented by the screen shaking and Danny looking like he is dealing with a brutal migraine. This is a technique used in the first couple of episode but has been absent since. This inconsistent use of visual cues is another problem I have had with Iron Fist all season. If they were planning on using any sort of motif, they should have carried it through the whole season. The way they randomly use it makes the show feel even more patched together,

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Danny realizes that the only way he can clear his name is to kill Harold. Colleen says he will not be able to live with himself if he does and she will do it. Claire Temple, once again the voice of reason, tells them both they have psychological issues, a diagnosis she makes multiple times in this episode. Honestly, they do have problems but at least Claire and Madame Gao directly criticize Danny for acting like a petulant child rather than the rightful Iron Fist. I have questioned Danny's motivations and reactions all season, but now during the finale I understand that was a conscious decision by the writers. I feel it was the wrong decision but I understand this was not a lack of acting talent on the part of Finn Jones. Still, Danny's ultimate plan is to have Claire cause a diversion by blowing up a hot dog cart outside of the Rand offices while Ward gets Harold out of the office. Then Danny can steal the tablet with the files that prove he is innocent. Easy, right?

The plan does not go well. First, Joy confronts Harold about his lies and she realizes that Ward was right about this man not being the same person they remembered from childhood. Joy abandons Rand and cries as she makes eye contact with Ward as her car pulls away. Joy seemed like she was going to be a vital character earlier in the season, something like Karen Page on Daredevil. Instead, she disappears and only shows back up in the closing scenes (more on that later). Ward tries to warn Danny that there are too many thugs guarding Harold but is knocked out when his father uses a golf club to smash his head. As Harold prepares for Danny's arrival, Colleen sneaks in and begins to take down some guards while Danny swings in through the window using his iron fist. The fight begins and Danny manages to use another ability we have not seen until now and smashes his hand into the ground, creating a seismic wave that blows out all the windows. Harold runs for the roof while Colleen and Ward retrieve the tablet.

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On the roof, Harold taunts Danny by telling him he though of killing Wendell Rand when they first started. Danny centers his rage and manages to fight back, eventually impaling Harold on a jagged beam. Danny manages to deflect a bullet using is Iron Fist, healed now that his anger is under control and his chi is centered but then bullets rings out as Ward shoots his father and sends him careening over the ledge to his death. With everything righted, we next see Ward and Danny at a crematorium. Ward asks Danny to join him at Rand but Danny is not ready for that. Without Joy, Ward seems lost but he is now more of a human being that the tormented douche from earlier in the season. Ward takes back Rand where his and Danny's photos replace those of their fathers. Danny and Colleen bid farewell to Claire after he tells them he is returning to K'un-Lun. Danny invites Colleen to come with him and she agrees. But, when they arrive at the mountain pass they find slain Hand soldiers at the gate and in the distance is an empty space where K'un-Lun used to be. At the same time, in France, we see Davos having coffee with Joy Meachum as they discuss the only way for both of them to right their lives is through the death of Danny Rand. Joy does not seem terribly shocked, but behind them we see Madame Gao smiling.

As far as finales go, this was quite underwhelming. Instead of bringing closure to the season, this hour instead feels like a mid-season episode. Had we skipped the first few hours and jumped into the Bakuto hours and let to this point, we would have had a lot more build-up to where this leaves us. Davos and Joy both were underused in this final episode which makes their twist at the end miss the target by quite a bit. I am also why the writers elected to leave so much unexplained with The Defenders coming up next and a second season of Iron Fist not likely for at least a year or two. There really needed to be a lot more closure to this story arc than we got which makes the defeat of both Bakuto and Harold Meachum feel less impactful than they should have. Both villains were strong enough to warrant more substantial ends but I feel they gave neither a fair shake and tied up their stories a little too neatly. Both could easily return using the logic of this universe, but it would further cheapen the events of this season.

EPISODE GRADE:

As much as I love the mythology presented in Iron Fist, the entire season fell flat for me. By the finale, Finn Jones had won me over and I am confident he will do better in future appearances as Danny Rand. The overwhelming issue with this show was the lack of a consistent narrative for the first half of the season. If the show had condensed those first six episodes and really kicked off the story at the halfway point, I think this would have been a much more effective introduction to Danny Rand. Instead, we are told how important it is for The Hand to be defeated and then it is not even the Iron Fist who ends up putting an end to Bakuto's reign atop the criminal organization. David Wenham was great as the villainous Harold Meachum but saving his truly evil actions until the final episode made for an underwhelming finale. Here's hoping that, now free of this first season, Iron Fist can come into his own on The Defenders and future seasons of this show.

SEASON GRADE:

NEXT ON MARVEL'S IRON FIST: Iron Fist will return in Marvel's The Defenders which debuts on Netflix Summer 2017.

Source: JoBlo.com

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12:16AM on 04/10/2017
The twist with Davos and Joy was one of the worst things I've ever seen in a television show. And I was a defender of the show until that point, but that one scene ruined the episode and nearly ruined the show for me. I don't care what happens in the comics, based on the show we got up until that point it made no sense for Joy to behave in that way. To say anything else is to apologize for bad writing.
The twist with Davos and Joy was one of the worst things I've ever seen in a television show. And I was a defender of the show until that point, but that one scene ruined the episode and nearly ruined the show for me. I don't care what happens in the comics, based on the show we got up until that point it made no sense for Joy to behave in that way. To say anything else is to apologize for bad writing.
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3:27PM on 03/31/2017

It got more interesting towards the end...

Congratulations on finishing the season with excellent reviews. I think you hit on every sore spot and bright spot of the show. I still think they miscast a bit with Danny. While I like the innocence and childishness he plays, he absolutely lacked in martial art talent.
However, I kept watching, and I'm curious where it will go from here. I'm going to miss Harold Meachum, but the actor playing Ward is someone I will keep a lookout for. This set up for the Defenders is quite interesting. But,
Congratulations on finishing the season with excellent reviews. I think you hit on every sore spot and bright spot of the show. I still think they miscast a bit with Danny. While I like the innocence and childishness he plays, he absolutely lacked in martial art talent.
However, I kept watching, and I'm curious where it will go from here. I'm going to miss Harold Meachum, but the actor playing Ward is someone I will keep a lookout for. This set up for the Defenders is quite interesting. But, if they are half assed about like they were with this chapter, it will not succeed. We shall see. Thank you for the reviews. Great read.
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11:29AM on 03/31/2017
Overall I really enjoyed the show. Given my criticism of past reviews of this show, I feel the overall rating of 7/10 is fair. I would agree that the finale, or even the previous episode leading to the finale felt a bit off from a narrative standpoint. In thinking back on the show, I get the feeling the show was meant to have Harold Meachum as the big bad all along, but they wanted to do more work to establish The Hand in this universe. Perhaps that was to the detriment of the rest of the
Overall I really enjoyed the show. Given my criticism of past reviews of this show, I feel the overall rating of 7/10 is fair. I would agree that the finale, or even the previous episode leading to the finale felt a bit off from a narrative standpoint. In thinking back on the show, I get the feeling the show was meant to have Harold Meachum as the big bad all along, but they wanted to do more work to establish The Hand in this universe. Perhaps that was to the detriment of the rest of the season as The Hand took over as the main villain for a large chunk of this show. I'm thinking The Hand's involvement was to set them up more, beyond what was established in Daredevil, as the big bad for The Defenders.

I'm guessing the ending with Davos and Joy, as well as the disappearance of K'un Lun will be explained more in The Defenders. My guess is Davos will reveal himself as Steel Serpent and has actually been serving as the leader of The Hand for some time, under K'Un Lun's nose. Gao and Bakuto both report to him directly and they'll show up again in The Defenders. Keep in mind, I know very little about any of these characters from the comics, so not sure if any of this is factual or not.
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11:12AM on 03/31/2017
This show probably shouldn't have gotten the beating it took from critics. But, given how they only got to see the first six overall dull episodes they were at least right in how this show doesn't seem to take off in its first half. And by dull, I mean the ABC and the Disney marketing brain trust tried to mold this show like one of their stale ABC dramatic series, which are aimed toward a mostly female demographic. Think about it: a sensitive, doe-eyed orphan looking for trust and met with
This show probably shouldn't have gotten the beating it took from critics. But, given how they only got to see the first six overall dull episodes they were at least right in how this show doesn't seem to take off in its first half. And by dull, I mean the ABC and the Disney marketing brain trust tried to mold this show like one of their stale ABC dramatic series, which are aimed toward a mostly female demographic. Think about it: a sensitive, doe-eyed orphan looking for trust and met with betrayal, oh and he does shirtless Tai Chi. The production value had "basic cable pilot" written all over it. This could've easily been cut into a two-hour movie. It would’ve killed as a fun genre romp by giving a stronger nod to the 1970’s Kung Fu action flick culture that Iron Fist was born out of (Thanks RZA, I guess), but the Maus Haus gnawed that damn near clean off. I'm not trying to piss on this show. I've just been genuinely baffled at how much of a misfire it was.
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8:30AM on 03/31/2017
I've enjoyed the vibe of the show, generally the characters have been interesting but thought the production, action and story was far better in Daredevil and Luke Cage.
I've enjoyed the vibe of the show, generally the characters have been interesting but thought the production, action and story was far better in Daredevil and Luke Cage.
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1:12AM on 03/31/2017
Giving this a seven is being very generous.
The whole series was a four at best. Very bland indeed
Giving this a seven is being very generous.
The whole series was a four at best. Very bland indeed
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12:38AM on 03/31/2017
I agree. Iron Fist was a bit soft and patchy at best. Finn Jones had 3 WHOLE WEEKS to train for the role and most fight scenes he learned on the day and minutes before. Very average production. He's meant to be a master of kung fu not a learner.
I agree. Iron Fist was a bit soft and patchy at best. Finn Jones had 3 WHOLE WEEKS to train for the role and most fight scenes he learned on the day and minutes before. Very average production. He's meant to be a master of kung fu not a learner.
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1:07AM on 03/31/2017
Yet another reason why they should've just cast Lewis Tan, like they almost did. He already had a background in martial arts and stuntwork, and he is half white (his mother is British). They could've still cast his father as being white, and his mother Chinese, and appeased all the 'whitewashing' criticism.

Personally, I wish Ray Park wasn't too old to play the role he originally was supposed to play 15 years ago.
Yet another reason why they should've just cast Lewis Tan, like they almost did. He already had a background in martial arts and stuntwork, and he is half white (his mother is British). They could've still cast his father as being white, and his mother Chinese, and appeased all the 'whitewashing' criticism.

Personally, I wish Ray Park wasn't too old to play the role he originally was supposed to play 15 years ago.
1:20AM on 03/31/2017
The problem is that they made the decision to go with Danny sans costume. If he'd been wearing it (even just the bandana covering most of his face) they could have used a really martial arts expert in much of the fight choreography. It was a terrible decision to have him do all this fighting without even an attempt to disguise himself, AND to force Jones to do the majority of the fight scenes himself because he was uncovered. I thought he was adequate as an actor, but nothing like what we
The problem is that they made the decision to go with Danny sans costume. If he'd been wearing it (even just the bandana covering most of his face) they could have used a really martial arts expert in much of the fight choreography. It was a terrible decision to have him do all this fighting without even an attempt to disguise himself, AND to force Jones to do the majority of the fight scenes himself because he was uncovered. I thought he was adequate as an actor, but nothing like what we got from Daredevil.
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