Iron Fist: The Mistress of All Agonies


Danny really does have those magic fingers…

I try to write my reviews to avoid spoilers. Sometimes, that isn’t possible. The ninth episode of Iron Fist, “The Mistress of All Agonies,” is one of those times. So beware, I start off with spoilers and have more of them throughout. I just don’t see how to do this episode without them.

I had sort of wondered if this might happen, so the opening scene wasn’t a complete shock to me. The camera pans around the spot where Ward has been dumping bodies. The water swirls and then Harold emerges. He crawls to shore, removes the knife Ward killed him with from his torso, and then smiles. It’s a good day to be resurrected, I guess.

Team China has made it back home, and they’re holding Madame Gao prisoner in Colleen’s dojo. I have a lot of questions about how that worked, considering how many people must have been involved with this: pilots, customs officers, whoever got them back to the dojo, and whoever might have been passing by at any of those points. But she’s there, tied to a chair. Again, considering the abilities she has shown before, I’m really wondering how they are keeping her prisoner. They have a stalemate going on, in that Danny, Colleen, and Claire aren’t going to let her go, but Gao isn’t talking. After a lot of debate, they send Danny back to Rand to try an idea of Claire’s.

The resurrected Harold wanders the streets and has a few odd encounters. It seems that not quite all of him came back, or at least that’s how he’s acting at the moment. While that goes on, Joy is leaving a message for Ward about the building he brought her to before he had his little breakdown with her. It’s not entirely clear where she is, but Joy has managed to position herself to find Danny as he walks down the street. I guess they’re near the dojo; Joy’s been there before. She tells Danny about all the news from Rand, her and Ward’s trip to the building, and what she’s found out about it since then. She also tells Danny Ward has disappeared. Danny seems a bit stunned, but tells her they’ll work all this out later continuing on his mission.

Gao shows she knows how to fight on many fronts. Claire is trying to be nice by bringing her water, and Gao starts playing head games with her. She has a vicious tongue, Madame Gao. She does seem to know a lot about Daredevil and Luke Cage, and their connections to Claire. Gao goes on to do the same thing with Colleen, who is not looking well at all.

Danny somehow manages to sneak into Rand. Then again, he did say that, practically growing up there, he knows all the ways in and out. He gets to the lab to attend to Claire’s grocery list, and manages to get some help and show that it’s good to be nice to people. You never know when you might need a favor again.

Harold’s wanderings eventually take him back to Rand, where his passcodes apparently still work. He gets inside, very late and after hours, and wanders the executive suites. He’s remembering more now, and is not happy at seeing that Ward and Joy’s offices are assigned to someone else now. Finally, he calls for a ride, and has a very odd conversation with his loyal minion Kyle, who continues to fail to impress.

Outside Rand, there’s a very quiet man prowling around with a bag on his shoulder. Eventually, he approaches a nearby food truck. After a run in with the poor guy who runs it, our silent newcomer shows he can not only fight like Danny, but does origami as well, although his version seems more practical. And deadly.

Ward, like the proverbial criminal, returns to the scene of his crime. Oddly, the big terrarium has been fixed after it was shattered, but Ward gets a much bigger surprise when he finds Harold there. It’s a very entertaining conversation, with Harold apologizing a lot and Ward being totally shell-shocked, although still slipping in some nasty verbal barbs. Somehow I expect Ward’s last words are going to be something ugly to someone who is probably trying to help him.

Danny returns to the dojo and they give sodium pentothal to Gao, trying to get her to tell them the truth. She has a lot of interesting things to say, covering her long life, Danny’s parents, and one important immunity of hers. Colleen is looking worse and worse, and her claims that it’s the flu or something are proven wrong. Gao cackles as Colleen tells them to call for help, on her phone, under Sensei.

After a scene showing poor food truck guy is having a horrible night, we return to Ward and Harold. Ward has recovered enough from his shock to start making demands. What else is new? Also, Ward’s hand that was so badly injured seems to have recovered completely. That was fast. Bad writing, or does Ward have powers, too? Ward does show some concern when Harold reveals what he plans to do after Ward leaves. Ward has some feelings left, just not a lot.

At the dojo, Colleen is looking worse and worse. When Danny tries to reassure her, Gao says they are all such children. They get some unexpected visitors, although not the ones I was expecting, unless The Hand has been switching out ninja oufitts for tac gear and flash-bangs. The team does much better than I’d have expected, considering Colleen’s poisoned and Claire is, at best, a novice. Gao makes more threats and promises after the fight, trying to deal for her freedom.

Ward proves that, whatever his other numerous faults are, he’s pretty damn smart. Trying to get a handle on what’s going on, he goes to see Yang, the head of the Hatchet Men. Yang talks about another case like Harold that he knows of. The ones The Hand bring back turn on those closest to them first, which sounds a bit like the vampires on The Strain to me. Ward doesn’t get the answers he wants, and makes even more bad decisions on the way out.

Speaking of bad decisions, Harold tries to do something nice for Kyle, which was unexpected. It turns in to one of the most brutal murders we’ve seen yet, with a very unique weapon of choice. Harold seems shocked by what happened, which doesn’t bode well for his mental state, such as it is.

Ward’s bad decisions finally catch up with him. He has an encounter with some public servants that doesn’t go well for him, and ends up someplace we’ve seen before. There’s some irony involved as Ward is now going through what he did to someone else earlier in the series. Where he is might not be a bad place for him, all things considered.

Harold is watching both his children, albeit in different places. With Ward indisposed, and some convenient timing, he turns to his daughter, instead. Harold and Joy have a tearful reunion. You really have to feel bad for Joy. She’s had so much happen both to and around her so far, and now this. She’s really holding up remarkably well when you take everything in to account.

Things are looking worse and worse for Colleen and Gao is trying to use this to her advantage. Everyone is surprised when there’s a knock at the door, and Colleen’s friend Bakuto shows up. What I think is really striking here is Gao’s reaction. She not only knows Bakuto by sight, it’s the first time I remember her seeming actually afraid. Mind you, I’m not sure that having someone who rattles Gao suddenly turn up is the best thing for our heroes, but they are desperate. Bakuto gives Danny a lesson that I’ve been sort of hoping for, when I hadn’t given up on it, for most of the series. The episode ends with a change in status for Danny and Gao both, an unexpected departure, and a very confused Claire.

What I liked: One of the things that set Danny apart from many heroes finally happened this episode, and I’m glad to see it. I’m not sure things changed for the better, but whatever happens might be worth it just to see Gao’s reaction to Bakuto. Harold was sort of entertaining in some of his scenes as he came back. I admit to enjoying seeing the bind Ward got himself in.

What I didn’t: I’m not sure I get how that poison from China was instantly deadly to the guards but took so long to get to Colleen. He was always way out of his depth, but I feel bad for Kyle. I really wonder how Gao is so well informed about Claire. I also wonder how long before Joy just plain completely snaps. Danny, in general, needs to grow up a bit more.

I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5. I’ll even admit I’m biased because Danny learned his new power that I’ve been waiting for since they started. I’m very curious to see what happens next with Danny and Colleen.