Iron Fist: Eight Diagram Dragon Palm


Really, Colleen, who wears white to a fight?

Netflix’s Iron Fist continues with “Eight Diagram Dragon Palm,” the fourth episode of Danny Rand’s adventures in New York. Last time, they ended with him plunging off the side of a skyscraper to his potential doom. He manages to catch himself on a protruding light after falling not terribly far. He breathes out a murmured, and kind of unique, prayer, and falls again, this time to a ledge which is uncomfortably far beneath him, but much better than landing on the streets below. He does land hard enough to knock himself out.

We wakes up on a couch with an icepack behind his head. He has time to take in the luxurious furniture before Ward walks in, sipping coffee. They have a chat where Ward calls him a “goddamn Daredevil,” for climbing up the outside of the building. That seems like a really old-fashioned insult, so I have to think it’s a nod to Netflix’s premier hero show. Ward also admits to being the reason Danny fell. Their heated conversation gets stopped when Harold walks in, stunning Danny to silence.

Danny and Harold have a very touching reunion, which is genuine on at least one side. Ward looks on uncomfortably, maybe jealously, as Harold shares a lot of secrets about what lies behind his current circumstances. What’s most interesting is the name-dropping of The Hand, and Iron Fist’s traditional role as the defender of K’un-Lun against them. In the comics, Iron Fist is K’un-Lun’s champion in general, but The Hand isn’t part of the original Iron Fist mythos. They finally agree that Danny will be publically welcomed back, all lawsuits against him will be dropped, Danny will look into why The Hand is making Rand International buy this damn pier in Red Hook that keeps coming up, and Harold’s hidden life will be kept from Joy. On the way out, Ward warns Danny that the only person Harold cares about is Harold. I could see this being equal parts jealousy and actual warning. While he’s a slimy, selfish villain, I do think Ward actually has some doubts about what Rand is doing.

Things are not going smoothly back at the Chikara Dojo. Daryl, the only one of Colleen’s recurring students to actually get a name, is showing everyone footage of Colleen’s cage match. She’s appalled, both at her own hypocrisy and when she learns he’s posted it online. What I’m not sure about there is the source of the footage Daryl’s so enraptured by. If the cage match people did it, where’d he get it? If he took the video, where the hell was he, because that’s a weird angle for him to have been recording from. I also found it odd that someone who claims to be such a traditionalist that she worries about Bushido (which is Japanese, not Chinese, like most of the rest of the influences on the show so far) is leading a class while wearing a t-shirt. That’s arguably disrespectful to the class, her dojo, and her status as a teacher.

Joy and Ward have a short scene talking about the change of heart regarding their stance on Danny Rand. The man himself walks in, getting a compliment on his suit from Joy and a cutting remark from Ward about his tie. I really do think a great deal of Ward’s motivations for just about everything he does is jealousy with overtones of greed.

Danny’s official acceptance isn’t a quiet thing. They have a big press conference, where Ward instructs Danny in hushed tones to keep to their script. The only real questions come from the New York Bulletin, the paper that was such a big part of both seasons of Daredevil. Danny at that lectern is probably the most uncomfortable we’ve seen him, which says something considering how many people have been trying to beat on him and/or kill him. After the conference, he has a quick meeting with Jerri, who puts him in his place about their relationship and his place in the company. Danny tries to honor his deal with Harold to follow up on the pier, but Joy’s assistant Megan puts him off by saying Joy should have an opening in “two or three days.” Danny looks very lost and alone sitting in his empty office, although his delight at the stickers from his childhood still being under his father’s desk is fun to see.

We get our earlier impressions about Ward, Joy, and Danny all reinforced in a business meeting, or at least my impressions of them are. Danny crashes a meeting about a new drug they’ve developed which can cure a disease in East Asia. The board is all about charging $50 for their $5 pill, which Ward is quite happy with. Danny is appalled and insists they should sell a life-saving medicine at cost. Danny is alone in this stance, with Joy going along with Ward and trying to explain to Danny that this is how business works. Danny, however, is adamant and controls 51% of the company stock, so he wins, alienating much of the board. Joy suddenly decides her schedule has cleared up and hurries Danny out of the meeting to talk about the pier.

After a brief scene of Colleen being frustrated and borderline out of control at her dojo, there’s a conversation between Ward and Harold. Interestingly, Ward pops a pill before he picks up the phone. He’s done this before. I’m wondering if the pills are tranquilizers or some kind of anti-psychotics. Then again, with the way Harold treats Ward, they might just be some kind of antacid. Harold directs Ward to handle Jennifer, the reporter from the conference. Ward assures him he’ll handle it, and Harold says that will make up for the screw up over the drug price earlier. I can’t really stand Ward, but that was in no way his fault. That’s very illustrative of how Harold thinks, and his relationship with Ward .

Out on the street, Joy and Danny banter about monks and robes. I think the two purposes of this scene are to show the deepening friendship between Danny and Joy, and to make Danny feel guilty when she talks about missing her dad. I suspect Joy will learn about Harold’s survival before this season is out, and that she’s not going to handle both Ward and Danny keeping it from her real well .

Colleen Wing returns to the cage match, and is cocky, even if it’s justified. She insists on adding a second opponent. While the guy running this place is shady as hell, he is at least concerned enough to ask her if she’s sure about that. After a brutal fight, she wins (no great surprise there) but completely loses it on the last guy standing. Like I’ve said a few times, Colleen has some temper issues.

Danny and Joy talk about the pier deal, and Joy eventually admits there are some strange elements behind it. Their chat gets interrupted when a gang of Chinese thugs show up and try to kidnap her. This is, of course, another chance to show off Danny’s fighting skils. The only bit I didn’t like is minor, I admit, but struck me as a bit odd. At one point, one of the men brings a hatchet down on Danny’s hand. He summons up the Iron Fist power and it shatters. I’m being picky, and a comic geek, but, while Danny’s power lets him strike with great power, his fist, “like unto a thing of iron,” it’s never made him invulnerable before. It was a weird choice.

Danny hustles Joy off to Colleen’s place and asks Colleen to watch over her. Colleen provides a clue about something Danny overheard, and he goes to the Golden Sands restaurant. Danny fixes her hand, damaged in her fight, which gives me hope they might recall that the Iron Fist is supposed to heal. I wonder when Colleen got her door fixed, since she was complaining about not being able to afford it and Danny apparently hasn’t paid her yet.

Ward meets with Jennifer the reporter, and does a great job of being blinded by his own ego and perspective. He talks about Danny insisting on selling the drug at cost. His approach is all swagger and “can you believe this guy?” clearly anticipating her seeing his point. Instead, she hurried out after this reveal, calling in and telling the paper not to give he front page to Karen. I suspect this is Karen Page, supporting cast member from Daredevil, who works for the same paper.

Danny gets to the Golden Sands, and there are all the elements of a classic showdown. Bearding the bad guy in his den, the hero being all alone, all of that is in place, but Danny shows he’s a different kind of action hero. He talks to them instead of fighting. The head of the clan, Yan Mai Ting, is mocking about Danny and then gets annoyed when he hears Danny is the man from Rand Enterprises. They argue about the damn pier (I hope Danny goes down there and checks this out soon, enough of the hints), and then Ting looks shocked and scared when he hears The Hand is involved, backing off at once.

Speaking of The Hand, Harold gets a visit and is literally taken for a ride. While this is going on, Danny returns to collect Joy, who Colleen is giving some simple training to. I swear, Colleen is a bit obsessed, although Joy seems to enjoy it. They talk, and Danny thanks Colleen before seeing Joy home. They agree to keep the matter from Ward, who no doubt will horribly over-react.

Harold gets taken to some building that lets him watch Joy from across the street. Joy really needs to learn to close her drapes. Harold is very thankful to his handlers for letting him see her, then realizes she’s been hurt. You can see his whole manner change as soon as he sees that. He asks for a favor from his Hand contacts, and deals with things decisively.

The end is a quick scene of Ward seeing a Bulletin article calling Danny a hero for his stand on the drug price. Ward’s reaction is unclear. Then we get back to Danny at his place, doing forms. There’s a knock on the door and he gets a package left for him, which appears to be the Steel Serpent drug we saw on Daredevil, with some info for him from Yan Mai Ting. The last thing we see is Danny standing there, shirtless, which shows off both what great shape he’s in and Iron Fist’s trademark symbol (no, it’s not a tattoo, at least not in the comics).

What I liked: I can see why some people are complaining about this being a slow build, but I’m enjoying the pace. While there’s a good bit of action in this one, a lot of what we see here is characterization. Danny really is a hero on several levels, not just in the badass willing to beat on people way. Harold is really dark and manipulative, and Ward is sort of caught in the middle, although he’s clearly not a great guy. Joy just seems to go along with whoever she’s talking to. The scene with Jerri was a bit sad for Danny, but in character for her and made sense. The fighting is pretty damn good .

What I didn’t: Colleen is acting really weird. I’ve said it before, but her control issues are very much at odds with being teacher in this tradition. I mentioned being curious about her door being fixed. It’s a bit odd that she’s so hard up for money on one hand, but is refusing Danny’s help so she can keep fighting for cash. Does she enjoy it that much? I mentioned the odd bit about Danny’s power above. How’d Yan Mai Ting’s thugs know where to find Joy, since she was at Danny’s place when they came for her, not at home. I’m hoping they move forward on this pier mess soon instead of just talking about it so much.

I thought it was a good episode. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5. I’m really curious to see how the rest of this develops, and looking forward to Claire’s appearance later on.