TV Review: Marvel's Iron Fist - S1 Episode 3 "Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch"


EPISODE 3: "Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch"

SYNOPSIS: Joy proves herself a shrewd businesswoman, Danny recalls a painful memory, and Colleen puts her talents to good use.

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REVIEW: For those of you who binge-watched Iron Fist this past weekend, you were likely frustrated by these early episodes of the show. Here we are, three hours into the season, and we have virtually no momentum built up. From the beginning, it seems that the showrunners wanted to heavily rely on the theme of identity in introducing Danny Rand. It becomes very important for Danny to return to New York City and reclaim his father's company but he is met by resistance from Joy and Ward Meachum and is then committed to a mental hospital. While that incarceration lasted a single hour, the slow pacing and ridiculous plot developments made it feel much longer. So, when the escaped Danny seeks refuge at the start of this third hour, I was ready for things to pick up steam. Sadly, they still have yet to build any sort of tension.

What this episode does manage to do is once again make Colleen Wing the most interesting character on the show. From the opening sequence of her kicking the asses of Ward Meachum's goons in her underpants to facing off with Danny, there is clearly a lot about this young woman we have yet to learn. She is confident in her abilities and has a moral code but is not above reducing herself to beating the ever loving shit out of a man to satiate the darker side of her psyche. Basically, she is a female Daredevil crossed with Misty Knight. The mere fact that those two characters jump out should intrigue audiences much more than Danny Bland. It is during this episode that Colleen ventures to the underground fight club some of her pupils have been frequenting to fight a thug three times her size. She gets beaten and bruised but comes out victorious and with a taste for inflicting pain. I won't spoil future hours of the series but this scene will impact Colleen's role on this series.

This episode also sees the return of Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth. While a key supporting character on Jessica Jones, I found Moss' performance to be cold and off-putting. Here, as a figure from Danny's childhood, Jeri has a bit of a softer touch as she takes on the case for Danny Rand to regain a stake in his father's company. It takes very little for Danny to convince Jeri of his true identity (remembering where she worked for Rand Industries seemed to do the trick). Danny has no identification and no way to prove who he is until he remembers there are medical records from when he has a childhood injury. Of course, when Danny heads to the hospital he is greeted by a thug burning the evidence. Danny fights the man but ultimately has to weigh saving an innocent woman or retrieving his x-ray. Danny makes the right choice and then heads to confront Ward and Joy. Clearly, this show is going to be about Danny versus Ward, right?

Of course not. Over the first three episodes, it is virtually impossible to get a read on the true nature of anyone outside of Danny and Colleen Wing. Ward is a pill-popping narcissist with daddy issues. Joy seems like she truly is a good person until she uses a child dying in a hospital bed as leverage to get property that she is unaware has been requested by her father. Even Harold Meachum begins to not seem like a total villain by the end of this episode. It is impossible to tell who is really playing who here. In many cases, that would be good for a dramatic series but it just makes Iron Fist confusing and inconsistent. When the time comes for Danny's arbitration hearing with Rand, the proof of who he is finally comes to light in the form of....a shitty bowl? Yeah, turns out that a ceramic bowl made by Danny as a small child has a thumbprint which serves as enough evidence to prove Danny is who he says he is. Yeah, the writers resorted to something out of a shitty Hardy Boys book that makes almost no sense. Nor does the fact that Joy is playing hardball in the courtroom but is actually the person who provided the bowl to Danny.

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With his future seemingly back on track, Danny decides to follow Ward. The rationale is flimsy but he follows his childhood friend to an unknown destination and then proceeds to make numerous bone-headed choices. If this were a video game, you wouldn't be surprised to end up coming across a bad guy and then seeing "game over" emblazoned on the screen. But this being a television series we have no control over, we are left to wonder why in the hell these characters make the choices that they do. We have already learned by this point that Harold Meachum has a ton of access to closed-circuit cameras and more so Danny skulking around his secure building should have thrown up numerous red flags. As Danny ascends the side of the building and tries to gain access through a window, a pair of hands appear and shove him seemingly to his doom. Now, those hands are obviously those of either Ward or Harold and this being the third episode of the season, it seems unlikely our hero is going to die. So why did the writers even opt for such a cheap cliffhanger? Stay tuned to find out.

With every Marvel series, Netflix or otherwise, there are ups and downs with the narrative pacing. But, Iron Fist has so far done virtually nothing right. We have yet to know any character's true motives and cannot determine who we should or should not care about. I still think that the suits at Marvel should have said something in the early development of this show and had the writers scrap this plot and try something different. Having already watched later episodes and then revisited this hour, I was compelled to give this episode an even lower score than I initially planned to as the story makes even less sense in hindsight. There is so much potential for Iron Fist and this series squanders it. If you were able to look past the first hours, you will agree that things get better, but if a show doesn't grab you within the first few episodes, that is a failure on that series. 

NEXT ON MARVEL'S IRON FIST: "Eight Diagram Dragon Palm" - Danny makes a shocking discovery and a radical pricing proposal. Colleen's extracurricular activities go viral, and Ward issues a stern warning.

Source: JoBlo.com



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