Netflix has done a fantastic job so far launching Defender character arcs with Marvel’s Daredevil (April 2015), Marvel’s Jessica Jones (November 2015) and Marvel’s Luke Cage (September 2016). Fans have been eagerly anticipating Marvel’s Iron Fist like me, we’ve all been clamoring for more Marvel universe and counting down to the season premiere of Marvel’s Defenders on Netflix later this year.
Synopsis: Ten-year-old Danny Rand survives a mysterious plane crash that claimed the lives of his wealthy parents. Rescued by warrior monks, Danny grew up in the coveted city K’un-Lun; where he trained to become a warrior under harsh conditions. Eventually, Danny fights his way up the ranks at K’un-Lun and earns the right to become the Iron Fist, protector of K’un-Lun and sworn enemy of the Hand. Fifteen years later, Danny returns home to New York City, hoping to reconnect with his past and take his rightful place at his family’s company, Rand Industries. Danny quickly learns that the Hand is threatening to destroy his family’s company and Danny will stop at nothing until his family’s legacy is restored even if it means destroying the people who threaten it.
Episode 1: Snow Gives Way
Synopsis: After being declared dead 15 years earlier, Danny Rand returns to New York. But his welcome is a far cry from what he’d hoped.
Like all superheroes stories, the main character has to start off bland and, in a way, this first episode in the season was exactly that! The episode opens up with a barefoot Danny strolling across the streets of New York City until he finds himself in front of Rand Industries, otherwise known to him, as home. Though the scene wasn’t very authentic, Outkast blasting out of Danny’s headphones was everything and since the hip-hop music was a nice touch (made me chuckle) I continued to watch just to see what song they would play next.
Danny assumes he’ll be welcomed back with open arms, but instead he quickly learns that his father’s partner Harold Meachum is also dead, and his childhood best friends Joy (Jessica Stroup) and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey), are the ones calling the shots at Rand Industries and they want absolutely nothing to do with Danny. So they unexpectedly drug Danny and send him to a mental hospital.
Episode 2: Shadow Hawk Takes Flight
Synopsis: Danny struggles with his new surroundings, Colleen dishes out a harsh lesson, and Joy sends an unconventional message.
This episode was much better than the premiere! After waking up in the mental hospital, Danny realizes the only family he has left betrayed him. Unable to summon the Iron Fist he has no choice but to stay in the hospital for 72 hours. Danny tries to tell the doctor that he’s the real Danny Rand but it’s Joy who unknowingly convinces the doctor that Danny is telling the truth.
Harold pays Danny a visit in the hospital and tells Ward that they must protect Danny. But, Ward decides he’d rather have him killed, and finally, we have our first scene where Danny summons the Iron Fist and escapes.
Episode 3: Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch
Synopsis: Joy proves herself a shrewd businessperson, Danny recalls a painful memory, and Colleen puts her talents to good use.
Harold witnessed Danny escape from the mental hospital and believes he’s the real deal and can help him escape from the Hand. Madame Gao makes her appearance, changing the pace. Ward and Joy finally close the deal on the warehouses at the pier that Harold has been eager to purchase.
Danny ends up at Colleen Wing’s dojo seeking a place to stay and maybe something more. Finally able to prove his identity, Danny gets a lawyer, Jeri Hogarth (nice connection from Marvel’s Jessica Jones) and takes his rightful place in the company.
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.
Things start to heat up in this episode (finally!). Danny does a press conference announcing his return to Rand Industries. His first change he makes is a radical cost effective pricing proposal that immediately makes everyone on the board hates him.
Danny follows Ward and discovers that Harold Meachum is in fact, alive and hiding from the hand. Colleen secretly gets a thrill out of fights in the cage for money. A video of her goes viral and her students at the dojo are intrigued. Joy and Danny try to mend their friendship.
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 uses.
After Danny learns the sworn enemy of the Iron Fist, the Hand, runs deep within Rand Industries, he wants nothing more than to defeat them and get the company back into good grace. Forced to partner with Ward, both are tasked with trying to rid the company of the Hand. But working together proves more difficult than Danny expected, especially because Ward resents Danny and his relationship with Harold.
We are also introduced to Claire Temple in this episode as she receives lessons from Colleen Wing. This was a nice and easy way to create a connection to Marvel’s Daredevil and Marvel’s Luke Cage; though the set-up was a bit bizarre because Claire became the third wheel on Danny’s non-date with Colleen. Danny asks Colleen for help as he goes up against Madame Gao.
Episode 6: Immortal Emerges From Cave
Synopsis: Danny receives an invitation like no other. Colleen and Claire face a difficult choice. A worried Joy confronts her brother.
Finally we see the real potential of the Iron Fist when Danny is invited to participate in a dual against the Hand after stealing their coveted chemist. Madame Gao calls upon her most ruthless fighters to defeat Danny with the high stakes of the winner having complete control over Rand Industries.
With that in mind, we finally see some good fighting scenes from Danny as the Iron Fist. Though the fighting could’ve played out a bit longer with more complexity, it was an OK and bare minimum believable episode that actually (and finally) brought more meat to the storyline.
Episode 7: Felling Tree With Roots
Synopsis: Ward’s loyalty is tested. Danny discovers a rogue division, and the mysterious Bakuto visits Colleen’s dojo unannounced.
This episode was by far the best! The action was great and the fighting scenes were more authentic. Ward tries to flee the country, his father and the Hand, but of course, Harold thwarts Ward’s plans and empty’s his personal account. The tension between Ward and his father is the best part of the series. Tom Pelphrey does an amazing job as Ward.
In my opinion he and Harold are the two most complex characters so far, both providing a nice balance of tension and darkness. By the end of the episode, Ward loses it, finally breaking and stabs Harold repeatedly, he kills him and dumps his body. This is certainly an episode to watch!
Episode 8: The Blessing of Many Fractures
Synopsis: Danny faces his fear, and Colleen meets her match. Joy makes a hasty decision, while Ward struggles to accept his sister’s admiration.
Ward is haunted by his actions from the previous episode. He is hands down the best manipulator, his ability to pretend he doesn’t know what’s happened is amazing. Danny, Joy, and Ward have been voted out of the company.
Colleen and Claire follow Danny all the way to China to defeat Madame Gao. Colleen has a solo-fighting scene and proves she’s pretty badass. Claire is desperate to prove she is special and fights alongside Colleen and Danny and actually helps beat up some of the Hand. Thankfully, the trio wins and takes Madame Gao back to the US. Ward continues to suffer from his actions while Joy admits how much she loves and looks up to Ward. A mysterious man shows up and stakes out Rand Industries.
Episode 9: 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.
Madame Gao taunts Colleen and Claire while Danny tries to get truth serum so he can finally get answers from Madame Gao. Ward discovers that you can’t keep the past buried no matter how hard you try. Harold’s alive and definitely not the same. Joy finally discovers the truth and realizes that Ward was keeping Harold’s secret the entire time. Gao admits that she knew Danny’s mother.
Colleen has been poisoned from her trip to China and instructs Danny to call someone under sensei in her phone. Moments later Bakuto shows up at the dojo and knocks on the door. Danny is right in thinking suspiciously of Bakuto and asks how he was able to make it inside the building knowing the Hand was surrounding it. Bakuto claims he took care of the men and motions for Danny to look outside where there’s a man dangling. Bakuto convinces Danny that he, as the Iron Fist, has the power to heal Colleen. Bakuto guides Danny and he is able to burn the poison out of Colleen. Then, Bakuto takes Danny, Colleen and Gao away from the dojo leaving Claire (and all of us watching) questioning what just happened.
Episode 10: Black Tiger Steals Heart
Synopsis: Exhausted from fighting, Danny tries to recharge with Bakuto’s help. Meanwhile, Rand’s management gets another shakeup
The episode opens with Danny and Colleen in bed together. After the previous episode, this didn’t seem very believable to me, but I went with it. We learn more about Colleen’s backstory and what Bakuto has in mind for Iron Fist.
Harold has Ward committed to the mental hospital while he and Joy plot ways they can oust the Hand and take back control of the company. Danny learns that there are different groups within the Hand and Madame Gao was actually telling the truth about Bakuto and Colleen.
Danny’s best friend and second from K’un Lun, Davos, appears just in time to help Danny breakaway from Bakuto and his soldiers. Filled with rage and betrayal, Danny discovers he can’t summon the Iron Fist and if he doesn’t fix this problem soon everyone is at risk.
Episode 11: Lead Horse Back to Stable
Synopsis: Claire uses her improvisational skills, and Colleen gets conflicting information. Danny yearns to be more than just a destroyer.
Colleen feels conflicted and digs deeper for the truth about the Hand. She loves Danny but has sworn to serve the Hand. Still brimming with anger, Danny visits Claire so she can patch him up before he takes on the Hand once and for all.
Davos discloses how he really feels about Danny and the mortal world. He wants nothing more than to return to K’un-Lun and restore the protector to his people. However, Danny wants to be more than just a destroyer and fights a battle within where he must choose between the duty of the Iron Fist or being Danny Rand for he can’t be both. Or can he?
Episode 12: Bar the Big Boss
Synopsis: Ward receives an offer with strings attached. Davos advocates for an extreme solution, and a deadly duel gets personal.
Bakuto visits Ward in the mental hospital and gives him an offer he can’t refuse. Davos pleads with Danny about taking on the Hand and leaving Colleen alone. Joy sticks by her father and sees a totally different side of Ward as well as her father. Bakuto shows up and turns on Ward, threatening to kill all of the Meachums. Joy gets shot and Danny arrives a minute before Bakuto is about to behead Harold. He surrenders himself to save the only family he’s ever known.
Danny is able to summon the Iron Fist long enough to breakout of the handcuffs. Davos and Colleen fight together to help Danny escape from Bakuto. This is the best fighting I’ve seen. Colleen takes on Bakuto and wins; Davos delivers the final kill with the sword to the heart.
Davos and Danny begin to fight about his duty as the Iron Fist once again only this time it gets physical. Equally skilled, Danny still kicks Davos’ butt and forces him to yield. Danny proclaims he is both Danny Rand and the Iron Fist. Bakuto’s body disappears, so we’re not quite sure if he’s alive or dead.
Ward and Harold get Joy to the hospital and she seems to be all right. Ward gives Danny a warning that they are coming for him. Looks like Harold betrayed Danny Rand after all.
Episode 13: Dragon Plays with Fire
Synopsis: In a desperate search to clear his name, Danny learns a terrible truth that places him on a new path.
Danny is desperate to clear his name and Ward is surprisingly interested in helping him. It’s nice to see this change in Ward. Harold proves to be a great adversary and won’t go down without a fight. Jeri, Colleen, and Claire continue to try to help Danny. Danny’s restored his chi and finds he can use the Iron Fist again.
Harold admits that he regretted not killing Wendell before Danny was born. They fight until the very end with Ward delivering the final kill once again. Ward cremates Harold’s body just to be sure he’s dead. Danny decides he will return to K’un-Lun and invites Colleen to go with him.
Davos meets with Joy and they plot how they will get rid of Danny and return things how they were before he returned. Madame Gao sits inches away drinking tea and listening to Davos with a sinister smile. Danny and Colleen make it to the entrance of K’un-Lun only to learn it’s gone and all that’s left behind are dead Hand soldiers.
Though the series had a rough and slow start, it’s worth plowing through until you get to the meaty episodes. I’m actually kind of excited to see where the next season will go. I’m certainly looking forward to Defenders and hope (and pray) they up the expectations. Until next season I bid you adieu.