Netflix’s fourth Marvel hero series begins with the debut of Iron Fist in “Snow Gives Way.” The opening is odd, with a shadowy figure doing martial arts leaving inky smears behind his moves. It looks kind of cool, but a bit odd. I can’t say I really loved the title sequence.
The show opens with crowd scenes in New York. They gradually zoom in on a ragged barefoot figure with a backpack and Ipod, who we know is Danny Rand from the trailers we’ve seen leading up to this. After some wandering around, he goes in to the lobby of the Rand-Meechum building and asks to see Harold Meechum, the man who runs the company. This goes about as well as you’d think for someone who looks like that making that kind of request. When the security guards rush him, and horribly overreact, we get to see a lot about Danny. Not only is a great fighter, but he goes to great lengths to both try and talk his way out of it, and, when that fails, not seriously hurt anyone.
After showing he’s intelligent by how he gets there, Danny works his way up to the top floor and meets Ward and Joy Meechum, Harold’s children. Neither of them believe his story or claims, and, after a disruptive conversation, Danny lets security escort him out. In the elevator on the way down, Danny starts shaking, with an odd blurring effect, and flashback to the plane crash that was supposed to have killed him. He mentions Billy, the former head of security, and guesses he retired. The guards don’t answer.
Outside again, Danny next goes to a very nice home. He finds a spare key, but it no longer works, and he ends up essentially doing parkour to get up the side of the building to a balcony and lets himself in. He’s clearly a bit lost at all the changes, and looks around the place, after dealing with the guard dog in a rather unique way. Up on the roof, he has a memory of playing a board game with young Ward and Joy, and we get a good idea of what Ward’s like. When Joy gets home, Danny sneaks back out.
That night, Danny camps out in what I’m guessing is Central Park. I was halfway expecting a “muggers try him and he kicks their ass” scene, but instead he makes a new friend, a homeless guy called Big Al. Al looks up a few things for Danny via his (stolen) iPhone. One of the nice touches is Al pulls up stories from the New York Bulletin, the paper Ben Urich and later Karen Page worked for over on Daredevil. Al also offers some very odd advice about shoes.
In the morning, Danny tries again to talk to Joy, waiting outside her house. Mostly he managed to unnerve her, especially when she figures out he broke in on the previous day. After a conversation that doesn’t really go anywhere, Danny demonstrates some of his skill when he’s almost hit by a taxi.
Back in the park, Danny is doing some exercises that look a bit like Tai Chi. There are some scenes of an eagle that don’t really seem to have a lot do with anything, and then Danny ends up getting money from a passing woman. He follows her to return the money, which confuses her a bit, and he watches her posting flyers about martial arts classes. This turns out to be Colleen Wing, an important character in the Power Man and Iron Fist world. He tries to get a job from her, and that ends on a misunderstanding.
Joy and Ward talk in Ward’s office, and she tells him about her latest encounter with Danny. Aside from cementing how much they don’t believe him, the main point of the scene seems to be to highlight the differences between the two characters. Ward is ruthless and business oriented, while Joy wonders if maybe they should just actually talk to him.
That’s sort of what happens when Danny later carjacks/kidnaps Ward from a valet area. There’s a very tense conversation, and Danny insists he’s not after money, which utterly perplexes Ward. On hearing he wants answers, Ward gives him some history of what’s happened over the last several years. This ends with a car crash and another flashback of Danny’s. Something’s clearly not quite right with our hero.
Once again in the park, Al shares some food with Danny. They have a talk about where humanity went wrong, and range to other topics like one’s purpose in life. Danny’s, apparently, is to protect K’un L’un and honor the sacrifice of Shao Lao the Undying. That probably doesn’t mean much more to some viewers than it did to Al, but Iron Fist fans know what that means. A clearly lost Al advises him to have fun along the way, which really isn’t bad advice for most things.
After Colleen finishes teaching a class at her dojo, and we see that she’s having money problems (a common theme in the Marvel/Netflix shows), Danny shows up. It’s an odd meeting, which goes from him challenging the master, not realizing it’s her, to her tossing him some shoes. At least he bows and apologizes on the way out.
As Danny leaves, things get interesting. He puts on the shoes (I’m not sure I’d want to be wandering around New York City barefoot. No, I’m positive I wouldn’t want to.), and then gets jumped by Shannon the security guard from Rand-Meechum. After some cat and mouse through the crowds with Shannon and two other guards, Danny gets out of them that Ward sent them. Again, he goes out of his way to not hurt them. Interestingly, he disassembles their guns, which suggests some familiarity with firearms. Danny finally manages to slip away, with Colleen having come out to watch all this, real sword in hand.
In the aftermath of this encounter, Ward gets his dinner interrupted by a phone call from Shannon. Clearly displeased, Ward makes a call in turn. What follows is a really interesting meeting that shows a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s an interesting reveal that I really wonder if Joy knows about. I’m betting she doesn’t.
Danny finds his friend Al dead, apparently of an overdose. He offers a really nice prayer, and seems very interested in Al’s tattoo, which is of a large bird, maybe like the one we saw earlier. Danny next sneaks back in to Rand-Meechum to talk to Joy. He tells her about the attack last night, which she doesn’t really buy into, but she at least agrees to the talk he’s been wanting. I think the most interesting thing to come out of it is a reveal about Joy’s character. The episode ends with Danny in a bad situation, and flashing back to the time of the crash again.
What I liked: I think Finn Jones makes a good Danny Rand. The reactions to Danny’s return aren’t what he wanted, but they’re understandable. Seeing who is pulling Ward’s strings was interesting. I was surprised by Joy’s duplicity. I like Colleen taking some action after seeing the fight.
What I didn’t: As I said, I don’t like the opening/title sequence. I’m not sure that the bit with the bird was all about.
I enjoyed this episode. I thought it was a good introduction to Iron Fist and many of his supporting characters. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5 and hope for it staying this good ro getting better.