“Under Leaf Pluck Lotus” starts off differently than the other episodes of Iron Fist so far. Three women with matching bags walk down the street in prefect step, finally separating at an intersection. These three are drug reps like you find in any big city, except that they are selling the new heroin we’ve been hearing out. They impress their respective clients, and clearly are willing to rely on sex appeal in addition to the product itself.
Danny is in his office, reading over a report. Sandy, one of the Rand chemists, is remarkably impressed with the drug sample he gave her. It’s the new wonder-heroin, but it doesn’t act like the real thing in a few key respects. And the biggest thing about it is that, since it’s totally synthetic, it’s not illegal. She theorizes that it could start a major epidemic.
Rand has clearly not been doing great things in Danny’s absence. Case in point, Joy is in yet another meeting, this one apparently about one of Rand’s plants causing cancer. Joy’s position is pretty much what a gamer would recognize as D&D Lawful Evil. Rand has followed government guidelines, so even if they manage to link the cancer to Rand, it’s not their fault, because Rand isn’t responsible for the guidelines. It’s a really nasty argument, and even Joy seems troubled by it.
Speaking of non-productive meetings, Danny goes to see Ward. He brings the drug with him, and tries to warn Ward about Rand being infiltrated. As we all know, Ward is always willing to listen when it comes to something he doesn’t want to hear and/or contradicts what he thinks should be happening. Danny doesn’t help his case by invoking several things from K’un-Lun, which I don’t think Ward really believes in at this point. Danny also tries bringing up Harold, but Ward says that’s between the two of them. I think he’s feeling jealous. Danny finally leaves, and stops by assistant Megan’s desk. He’s still exploring his new world and getting a feel for everyone’s roles in it. He does set something up for later, and leaves Megan a piece of origami for her troubles, which she seems to like.
Ward and Joy have lunch, and we see Joy’s facade is starting to crack. She’s really wondering about the morality of their stand on the cancer cases, comparing it to her own experience when their father died. Ward, for a change, is actually nice to her and complimentary of her skills and feelings.
Danny is on his way out when he has two momentous meetings, and doesn’t realize how important either of them are. As he leaves the building, he holds the door, polite guy that he is. He’s actually holding the door for the three women drug reps we saw earlier, so whoever they are working for is actually in the Rand building. Then, he runs into a woman from Joy’s earlier meeting, and makes some rash statements that are recorded, just to make things worse.
At the Chikara Dojo, Colleen is training a new student. Yes, it’s time for the inevitable Nerflix appearance of linking character Claire Temple, this corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s answer to Phil Coulson. It’s nice to see Claire getting some actual combat training, considering everything she’s been through, and Colleen definitely knows how to fight. I don’t know if it was a nice touch or the actress herself not knowing how to fight, but her form was pretty bad. Danny walks in during the lesson to ask a favor, and there’s some of the greatest awkward looks and pauses I’ve seen so far on any of the Netflix/Marvel shows. It gets worse when Danny reveals he’s brought dinner, a very unique version of take out.
Ward and Joy meet up in Ward’s office again, now discussing the video of Danny’s run-in with the woman from earlier. Danny’s well-meant comments have far-reaching legal repercussions which he probably didn’t know about, and Ward is not happy. Ward and Joy argue about what’s right in this situation. Ward is going to set up a board meeting and makes some unkind comments about Danny. Joy leaves, and Ward gets a very strong hint that his office isn’t as private as he thought. He also apparently takes his meds with Scotch, which can’t be good.
Back at the dojo, Danny and Colleen bat awkward and cryptic phrases back and forth while Claire looks on, amused, as if she’s watching a tennis match. Colleen and Danny compare notes on some unusual cuisine choices, surprising Claire. After some surprising revelations about Danny’s life in K’un-Lun, Claire exits, laughing, laden with leftovers. Danny reveals what he’s looking for- backup when he goes to check out the shipment arriving at the Red Hook pier tonight. After protests from Colleen, and revelation about Danny’s newest investment, she agrees, with one condition.
Ward runs yet another meeting with the board. I get that Rand International is a big part of this show, but man, there are a lot of meetings. He outlines a plan to handle the Staten Island plant situation and the cancer suit. The board is unsure, but Joy backs Ward in a strong show of support. There are a few disparaging comments about Danny, who isn’t even there.
Danny and Colleen get ready for their mission, showing their respective prowess with various weapons. It’s almost like their version of flirting. While this goes on, Ward delights in his father likely being pissed off about developments with Danny, and contemplates a really bad choice.
After dark, Danny and Colleen go to the infamous pier. Colleen starts realizing what she’s getting herself into when she sees the guards patrolling with machine guns. Danny dismisses the guns with the both over-confident and naive statement that the guards carry them just because they don’t know how to fight. Colleen also chooses this somewhat odd time to reflect on Danny’s celebrity and warn him about people looking to take advantage. Largely under Danny’s leadership, they sneak close to three large shipping containers set up like semi-trailers. His initial plan falls apart, and he decides to slip inside one. He makes a very surprising discovery here; they aren’t smuggling drugs in this containers, they are hiding the chemist. The stakes go up when Danny finds a huge security guard inside, and the truck takes off. Colleen improvises a way to follow, and, after a desperate fight, Danny escapes with the chemist. The man is really badly hurt, but, as Colleen says, they know a nurse.
Joy tries to talk to Ward after the video of Danny is released and goes viral. Instead, she gets a nasty surprise when she gets to his office. I get the impression that this isn’t the first time she’s found him incapacitated. He babbles a bit, and we see a bit more of the bond between them.
Claire answers Colleen’s desperate call for help, and improvises some first aid solutions that would make MacGyver envious. It’s tense enough until The Hand gets mentioned, at which point Claire quite understandably freaks out a bit. She knows of them through her contact with Daredevil. When Claire leans that Danny knows how bad they are and that he’s been trained to fight them, she sighs and reflects on her destiny, or her mother’s version of it. Claire does warn Danny that he can’t do this alone, when Colleen suddenly pipes up that he’s not alone.
The episode ends with a scene about the bad guys. The huge thug that Danny took the chemist from has to answer for his failure. The one he reports to is someone I’ve been hoping would be in this series, and I was glad to see them. The thug, by the end of it, is a lot less thrilled when his punishment is meted out. The boss seems familiar with the Iron Fist, if not necessarily Danny in particular.
What I liked: It’s always good to see Danny in action, although I’m not sure why he took so long to beat that one man in the truck. Claire is someone I always enjoy, and she was great in this. Colleen is being dragged into this in a way that makes sense. The meal between them was fantastic. I like that Joy is showing a conscience and Ward isn’t just a flat villain. And I was very happy with the boss at the end. I’m glad we finally got to see the pier, and Danny moving on his doubts about his own company.
What I didn’t: Too many meetings! I get it, but enough. Danny should have beaten the thug easier, as I mentioned above. Does Harold really spend all his time spying on his kids, or at least Ward? I get Ward arguably needs a keeper, but still.
I thought it was a good episode. Things are speeding along nicely, although I hope the rumors I’m hearing about Claire aren’t true. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5, and look forward to the next one.