Iron Fist: The Blessing of Many Fractures

china

Field trip to China! No, really, it’s not New York, honest.

Last time was a lot of plot and character development. With “The Blessing of Many Fractures,” we dive back into a lot more action. The scenes before the credits are divided between Danny going back to Harold’s place, and Claire at home. Claire is reading a letter from Luke Cage, which is a really nice touch. Claire gets some visitors, both welcome and less so. Danny goes to Harold’s place, and finds the aftermath of Harold and Ward’s last meeting. He also runs into Ward, who does such a great job pretending he doesn’t know what happened I actually wondered if he was having some kind of psychotic break and/or memory loss. But after Ward drives Danny off with some really harsh words, we see what’s in the bag, and know that Ward knows exactly what’s going on.

Danny meets up with Colleen and Claire, telling them he’s going to China in pursuit of Madame Gao. After a lot of talking, they eventually decide that all three of them are going to Anzhou, where Gao’s fortress supposedly is. Personally, I think Claire going was a bad choice on many levels, much as I enjoy the character. There’s a lot of tension among these three, and even Danny, their supposed leader, doesn’t seem too clear on what they’re going to do when they get there.

Because we can’t get away from meetings on this series, back we go to Rand. Joy and Ward suffer the indignity of having to wear Visitor badges for their meeting with Lawrence. Lawrence is enjoying his victory far too much. The Meechums don’t manage to present a unified front, in part because Ward is suffering from hallucinations that appear to be linked to last episode’s patricide. Lawrence offers the siblings a decent, although not wildly generous, buyout, which Ward is ready to take so he can just walk away. Lawrence is also smug about Danny not ever having an official title, so no severance for our young Kung Fu hero.

The plane ride doesn’t go wonderfully smoothly. I’m also curious where the plane came from. If Danny has been ousted from his non-position at Rand, how did he have access to the plane in the first place? That to one side, Claire when not rereading her letters from Luke, is teasing Danny about his relationship with Colleen, who appears to be asleep with earbuds in. Eventually the plane hits some serious turbulence, triggering some understandable flashbacks for Danny. This becomes the first time he’s given details about the plane crash to Claire and Colleen. Weirdly, as Claire manages to talk Danny down, the weather miraculously improves. A bit heavy on the symbolism there, guys. There’s also another brief flashback, complete with the odd blur effect they insist in using, to the Rand family crash.

Ward manages to sneak in to Lawrence’s office, interrupting a corporate cliche of golf putting practice. Ward is trying to cut a deal without Joy, dropping his price considerably and even trying to bribe Lawrence. Lawrence actually acts almost human in this scene, and gives Ward some very unwelcome news.

The away team runs some very low-grade surveillance on Gao’s stronghold. Danny and Colleen talk about the loss of their parents, and Danny proves he still has no plan. After Danny is reduced to macho posturing, Colleen gets clever and manages to learn what they need to know from a nearby blind beggar. From his injuries, I wonder if he was blinded like all the workers Gao had at her New York warehouse in Daredevil’s first season.

Joy is out walking her dog (I was wondering what had become of him) when Ward finds her. Ward is pissed off about her going behind his back before he could go behind her back. First they argue about what Joy did, then they have a long talk about their relationship, and Joy reveals what her big plan is. We also get a mention of a PI that was “worth every penny when she was sober,” which pretty much has to be Jessica Jones. Ward finally decides he’s going to tell her everything.

The mission against Gao devolves into low comedy for a while. Danny comes up with the brilliant idea of burning the building down to attract Gao’s attention, which Claire, Colleen (and I) all think is not the best plan. Claire, recognizing her limitations, decides to stay outside and play lookout. Danny and Colleen do have some good teamwork to get a guard taken care of, I’ll give them that. They talk more about what to do with Gao, and Colleen seems to be pushing for Danny to kill her. Claire sees the woman herself coming in with her big thugs, and then can’t find the phone to warn our heroes. Claire resorts to blowing the horn a lot, alerting everyone involved. I really wanted the blind beggar from before to look up and shake his head, muttering something.

Instead, after more talk between Danny and Colleen (bad place and time for a heart to heart, folks), Colleen goes off to find Claire while Danny shadows Gao and company. Colleen finds a lone female guard with a Chinese style sword, and these two have a big fight. Either Colleen is nowhere hear as good as she thinks she is, or The Hand was really wasting this woman’s talent as a faceless guard. Danny then has the best fight of the episode, although they telegraphed it coming a mile away. He sees Gao move a drunk aside to get into the next building. Somehow, Danny doesn’t manage to figure out this is a Drunken-Style master. Maybe I’ve watched more kung fu movies than he has. Their fight is great, after you get over the somewhat jarring shock of the Chinese master fighter having a British accent. Not what you’d expect in rural China. The drunk, Zhou Cheng, gets in some great lines and manages to taunt Danny enough that he goes nuts on the guy. Once again, for a martial arts master, Danny has serious control issues. At least they’re being consistent about that. He beats the man to a pulp, shocking Claire as the others rejoin the young Iron Fist. Colleen, for her part, simply kicks the guy’s feet out of the way to close the door.

Ward brings Joy most of the way to Harold’s hidden penthouse. Then his hallucinations get the better of him and he practically drags her out of the building. They have more harsh words, and Ward is about as nice to Joy as he was to Danny back at the beginning (or any other time, really). Ward storms off, leaving behind a surprised and hurt Joy. If she’s smart, she’s going to dig into why Ward brought her here to have her meltdown.

Claire tends the pulped fighter while Danny sobs. Their emotional scene gets interrupted by Gao coming in with her thugs. She makes Danny an offer, and is her usual smug and mocking self. While the Danny/Zhou fight was fantastic, this one is poorly done on several fronts. The heroes face off against two big martial arts goons. Somehow, even Claire holds her own. Gao, the powerful, skilled fighter, watches. She needed popcorn or something. Danny realizes that Gao did, indeed, have a hand in his parents’ deaths, and goes nuts again. He does finally use the Iron Fist where others can see it, so now Claire and Colleen have seen what he’s talking about when he says he has that power. Somehow, Danny destroying a door convinced Gao to surrender without a fight. I’ll grant, she does look nervous during the fight. Maybe the Iron Fist is one of the things that can do something about her longevity/immortality? The whole scene has many issues, and ends the episode.

What I liked: Ok, it has little to do with the story, but I was glad to see Joy’s dog again. It was a nice little touch, as were the letters from Luke. Danny’s fight with the drunken style fighter was really nicely done. Colleen’s duel was staged well, although it didn’t make a lot of sense as I stated above. I enjoy Claire injecting practicality into the moments of high emotion and adventure, like she’s been doing on every show so far. The nod to Jessica Jones was nice.

What I didn’t: Ward, any and everything. They keep getting me to almost like him, and then he swings back to bigtime jackass. I even liked Lawrence the Smug better than Ward this time out. Claire going to China made little sense, and her part in the fight even less. Why did Gao watch that final fight? Joy’s attempt at preparing for blackmail didn’t feel right somehow, and what she caught the board doing didn’t seem that bad. Joy needs something to do besides look concerned, shocked, or sad. Danny seems a very directionless, reactionary hero so far. And I really don’t like Finn Jones’ beard. Danny Rand has always been clean-shaven. I don’t see what the point of changing that was.

I’m enjoying the series overall, but this was not one of their stronger episodes. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5 and hope this doesn’t mark a slide in quality that continues to the end.

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