TV Review: Marvel's Iron Fist - S1 Episode 9 "The Mistress of All Agonies"


EPISODE 8: "The Mistress of All Agonies"

SYNOPSIS: 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.

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REVIEW: The ninth episode of Iron Fist is a strange one. While it does complicate a lot of things for our characters, it also just feels like a silly hour of a tv series that should be above such logical misgivings. This episode is chock full of story elements that should be much more significant and yet they end up being forgotten fairly quickly. Oh, and Danny Rand continues to make rash and impulsive decisions that endanger all of those around him. Specifically though, this episode hinges on the fact that Danny has trained to be the titular hero of K'un-Lun and yet doesn't have a working knowledge of a major power he is able to harness. Now, I know Danny Rand may have left his training before it was complete, but the suspension of disbelief should be reserved for believing that dead characters can come back to life or that a character can summon his chi into his fist and not wasted on trying to explain away major plotholes.

As predicted in my previous review, Harold Meachum is not dead. The episode opens with him surfacing in the lake Ward dumped his body in. Pulling the knife from his gut, Harold stumbles to the shore and makes his way back to Manhattan. All the while, he is coughing up mud from his watery grave and forgetting that boiling water hurts. It is a nice tie back to the fact that Ward lists his father as "Frank Stein" in his phone as Harold stumbles along like vintage Boris Karloff. Harold makes his way around town and eventually to Rand's offices where his passcode somehow still works. In Joy and Ward's offices, Harold remembers who he is and returns home thanks to his assistant Kyle. Harold seems to be refreshed at being alive again and even summons Ward to his side and apologizes for being a bad dad. Ward is terrified and elects to get away from his father. Harold obliges but not before telling Ward he is going to reveal himself to Joy. 

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Ward leaves and makes his way to the Hatchet gang where he learns a legend about a man who was resurrected by The Hand only to die and be reborn worse and worse until he roasts his children on a spit. Ward is shocked but too addicted to the heroin supplied by The Hand to notice his father has set him up. Ward is arrested and put into the same psychiatric hospital as Danny was where his father looks on smugly. Harold's dark rebirth is personified when he brutally murders Kyle for electing vanilla ice cream over the myriad flavors he has provided. Death by ice cream scoop is rough but it also comes across as just plain ridiculous, even on this show. After cleaning up the body, Harold sees Joy arrive to investigate the building and lets her upstairs. The two reconcile and it is supposed to be heartwarming, but I get the distinct impression that Joy is going to turn into the villain that Harold was shaping Ward to be. I sensed this from the very first episode but now it feels telegraphed.

While all of this is going on, Danny has Madame Gao restrained at Colleen's dojo where they have no plan. Danny is blinded by wanting to know about how Gao was involved with his parents' death and they decide to use sodium pentathol from Rand to make Gao tell them the truth. Danny sneaks into Rand to steal the drugs (which is way easier than it should be. I love that a secure door has a window that pops right out) and they then use them on Gao. At first, she resists but she soon begins to reveal that she manipulated Danny's mother to gain control of Wendell Rand. She also says it was actually Harold Meachum that wanted to partner with The Hand. Danny doesn't believe her and when Colleen collapses due to the nick from the poisoned sword during her fight in China, Gao claims it was all a ruse and she has been fighting back against torture since the 17th century. The fact that Gao is somewhat immortal as well will come into play in later episodes, but the focus now needs to be on saving Colleen.

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Danny calls Colleen's sensei, Bakuto, whom we saw briefly in the prior episode. As they wait for him to arrive, Danny continues to be taunted by Gao. Colleen seems to be closer and closer to death's door but something tells me there is more to Ms. Wing than we know. Gao earleir revealed she knew Colleen's grandfather and that she has a different purpose. Does Colleen share a connection to The Hand? My bet would be yes. After mercenaries try to storm the dojo and are beaten by our trio of fighters (how badass is seeing Claire Temple with tiger claw weapons?), Bakuto arrives and implores Danny to use his Iron Fist on Colleen. Danny doesn't understand but Bakuto guides Danny to harness his chi to burn the poison from Colleen. It works but Danny collapses. Bakuto and his men then take Colleen, Danny, and Gao away. Claire is unable to join. All the while, a mysterious man watches on. Comic fans will recognize this man who silently spent the episode staking out Rand's offices from a food truck as Davos (aka Steel Serpent). More on him in future reviews.

I liked a lot about this hour but I cannot get past the inconsistencies. How does no one suspect Bakuto's baffling knowledge of The Hand and Iron Fist? The guy is clearly going to be bad news. Also, why would Gao reveal truth and then claim she wasn't forced by the truth serum? Why is Ward telling anyone about his father being alive? Why is Joy so willing to go into mysterious elevators? Why does the silent Davos know how to turn tin foil into ninja stars? How much time compression has there been that Danny was a cover story on Forbes? And since when is an established billionaire considered an entrepreneur? So many questions and instead we are given a lot of time wondering why and how Harold came back and never told why he has to spend so much time seemingly brain dead before returning to "normal". I liked the action and that Danny learned a new Iron Fist technique, but this hour felt more like it was treading water than it should have.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S IRON FIST: "Black Tiger Steals Heart" - Exhaust with fighting, Danny tries to recharge with Bakuto's help. Meanwhile, Rand's management gets another shakeup.

Source: JoBlo.com



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