I’m Watching Iron Fist So You Don’t Have To: Episode 2 Shadow Hawk Takes Flight Recap
If you missed my recap of Iron Fist E1: “Snow Gives Way,” you can read it here. If you want a five-second recap, know that Danny Rand’s parents died in a plane crash. Danny didn’t. He spent 15 years training as a warrior, and has now come back to New York. The Meachum family, the other shareholders in the Rand company, are not happy about this.
Okay. Let’s do this.
Danny wakes up strapped to a bed in a psychiatric hospital, where he definitely doesn’t want to be. A man named Simon poses as a doctor and attempts to convince Danny to kill himself. I’m glad my alarm clock doesn’t have a “stab” feature.
Over at the Meachum office, Ward asks Joy to help him buy some warehouses and she agrees. They debate the morality of throwing Danny into a psychiatric hospital; Joy feels a nagging sense of guilt that he might actually be Danny Rand, but Ward convinces her that they’re not the bad guys because Danny was dirty and shoeless and couldn’t possibly be Danny. Or something. The dialogue in this show leaves much to be desired.
In the hospital, Danny has been cleaned up and force-fed drugs, though his beard remains woefully untrimmed. He tries to meditate in order to focus his chi, but is having trouble with his inner self because of the drugs. He speaks to a doctor, who encourages him to make the best of his time in the hospital. Danny recounts the plane crash in greater detail, saying that after he discovered the wreckage he was rescued by monks. The doctor asks him who John Anderson is, and shows him a passport bearing that name that was turned in with Danny at the hospital.
Back in the real world, Colleen is being followed. She beats up four attackers and berates them for performing poorly–it’s a training exercise. There’s not much of a point to this scene other than demonstrating Colleen’s martial arts skills and teaching style, but it’s a nice character showcase.
In the hospital, an aide pairs Danny off with Simon, who shows him around the hospital and introduces the other patients. Danny optimistically points out that he’s going to be released in 72 hours, and Simon says that’s what everyone else was told, but they were drugged repeatedly and most have been there for years. When a patient attacks Danny, he is blamed, strapped to a bed, and drugged again.
Simon frees him and Danny sneaks off to use the phone, where he calls Colleen. Colleen, understandably, has qualms about finding a way to free him, having only met him twice. Even though she saw him get attacked, she doesn’t quite believe that the entire city of New York is out to get Danny.
Ward Meachum visits his father. Ward’s dad’s name is Harold, but he’s played by Faramir with short hair. Faramir has placed cameras in Danny’s hospital room, so they know everything he has said. They discuss the validity of Danny’s story, and know that Danny was rescued by monks of the Order of the Crane Mother. They know about Colleen. Ward suggests a lobotomy. For a self-proclaimed “not a bad guy,” Ward is a pretty bad guy.
Danny, no longer strapped to the bed, meditates. Viewers keep getting flashes of a robed Danny, sitting on the mountain. The doctor comes back and Danny tells him that the passport was stolen, bought in Morocco so that he could return to the states. It’s looking like the next part of Danny’s Convince ‘Em Plan is to fly under the radar and escape.
Ward pays a visit to Colleen’s dojo. He tells her that Danny is threatening his sister and him, and asks if she has had contact with him and if he has threatened her. Colleen says that threatening her is a mistake, which, based on the practice scene, is true. Ward asks her to sign papers saying she felt threatened by Danny so he can stay in the hospital and offers to give her a grant–a grant that she desperately needs to keep her business open.
Okay. I was wrong about Danny’s plan. In his next session, the doctor shows him a commercial with the Rands. Danny recalls what they did after the commercial was filmed, declares himself to be Danny Rand and not John Anderson (again) and dramatically sweeps everything off of the doctor’s desk. He is very much on the radar.
At Meachum HQ, Harold Meachum is beginning to think Danny might be the real deal. Danny’s doctor calls Joy to verify a memory that confirms Danny’s identity. Harold visits Danny, who is still drugged to the gills and strapped to the bed, and sings him a mildly threatening song about death. Danny describes his training at K’un-Lun. He trained as a warrior there and became the Iron Fist, the sworn enemy of The Hand.
All of this information seems extremely interesting to Harold, who continues to act like a modern/corporate alternate universe Denethor.
Harold returns to his penthouse to find “Where did you go?” written on the outside of his window, the outside of the window being at the top of a skyscraper. This moment is either meant to introduce another antagonist–one with a powerful hold over Harold, who maybe doesn’t leave the building for a reason–or it’s a bizarre lead-up to the Spider-Man reboot. One for the mystery board.
Joy is starting to think that Danny might also be the real Danny, and plans to verify this with a bag of M&Ms. She has a case of those big bags of M&Ms stashed in her office cabinet, which is admirable and also not what I assumed office cabinets are used for.
As the other Meachums separately verify Danny’s identity, Ward visits Colleen’s dojo again. Poor Colleen. She didn’t ask for men to harass her at her place of work on the daily, and yet, here we are. Once again, Ward offers her $50,000 if she signs papers saying that Danny harassed her, and Colleen says she’ll think about it.
Danny receives Joy’s bag of M&Ms and works on sorting out the brown ones, which I guess works as a plot device but like, they all taste like chocolate, man. Danny is then interrupted by a visit from Colleen. He tells her about the drugs and his connection to the Rand company, and she tells him how Ward is trying to bribe her. They form a fragile alliance and Danny sends Colleen to Joy’s office with the bag of M&Ms, sans brown ones.
Seeing the lack of brown M&Ms, Joy bursts into tears and realizes that the dirty, shoeless stranger is Danny. Ward walks in on Joy crying over a pile of candy and finds his papers from Colleen sitting on the desk, unsigned, which makes him very angry. He and Joy have a tense conversation about Danny’s future. Ward is insistent that Danny stay in the hospital, and Joy isn’t thrilled about that.
In the hospital, Danny makes a plea for his release. It doesn’t go well.
The Meachums, independently convinced of Danny’s identity, make a plan to move him–Harold wants him alive, to be used for gain. It’s like they say: You either die a Faramir, or live long enough to see yourself become a Denethor.
The plan involves putting a straightjacket on Danny and beating him to a pulp first. The repeated hitting apparently clears his head enough that he’s able to access his glowy fist powers. Danny punches his way out of the hospital, and the episode ends.
As with the pilot, this episode had some highlights, but they’re buried in awkward dialogue and drawn-out scenes. Danny is occasionally likeable, but I find it difficult to take him seriously when he goes from kind and goofy to talking very seriously about being a warrior. Danny defies traditional soldier stereotypes, which in a stronger story would be a neat trope subversion, but in this story is confusing. Most of the details we know about K’un-Lun are that it exists in another dimension and corporal punishment is regularly employed.
Despite 15 years (15! More than half his life!) of training, Danny’s fighting scenes give me pause about the teaching skills of those in K’un-Lun. Sebastian Stan transitioned from saddest boy in a drama to fighty action man quite well; Finn Jones, not so much. Something really clicked for me when I read that Jones was reportedly learning his fight sequences and filming them immediately. They’re clunky and edited weirdly, even in the 30 seconds of fighting I’ve seen so far. You can’t tell, but I’m thinking longingly of Lewis Tan. We could’ve had it all and all of that.
Even though the cast was announced more than a year ago, everything about the show feels rushed, from the cheesy dialogue to the Meachums’ villainy to the fight scenes. My hope for the next episode is that we see a clearer plot direction and that someone finally trims Danny’s beard, please. The plot thing is secondary to my desire for tidy facial hair if you were wondering.
Until next time.