While the core problems of Iron Fist remain the same, the back-and-forth pacing and underwhelming performances, these three episodes – much like the hero himself – recharge the show’s Chi a little and produce some better quality entertainment for those less than sold on Marvel’s new series.
The saving grace is the introduction of Ramon Rodriguez (The Wire), who stars as Bakuto. While Bakuto himself is a calming, and therefore untrustworthy, presence from the get-go, Rodriguez does an impressive job of making this faux-saviour an enjoyable watch. His ‘bad guy’-ness juxtaposes a lot of the show’s rhetoric in which good and bad are clean cut. Bakuto seeks strength rather than power, also juxtaposing him with Madame Gao’s supernatural, taunting style, which, of course, makes him a tricky enemy to tackle, given Danny’s simplistic view of the world.
Elsewhere in the show, the Meachum’s dysfunctional family dynamic has taken a fair beating, and Joy is edging closer to doing something vaguely smart or interesting. With Colleen Wing and Claire Temple having sizable roles, coupled with Finn Jones’ white-washing saga, Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) has managed to avoid most of the diversity and equality complaints levelled at the show. However, Joy is introduced as a mighty businesswoman – co-chairing a multi-billion-dollar empire, who seems to take very little action without her brother, father, or Danny suggesting so first, making her not only an inconsistent lead role, but also arguably too meek and naïve to enjoy watching throughout. With Danny off confronting The Hand, and with Ward and Harold at each other’s throats (literally), though, it does seem as though Joy is being forced into the common-sense-driven role she has been leaning towards from Episode 1.
In terms of the Iron Fist himself, now Rand’s joined by Sacha Dhawan’s ultra-focused Davos, things are moving at a refreshing pace. With a more defined goal, and some commonality with the Meachums – who may be terrible people, but end up on the right side this time – Danny can now challenge Bakuto, Gao, and their associates and do what he has been tasked to do since before he left K’un-Lun: defend New York against The Hand. Even with the flimsy writing and meandering storylines, when the hero puts his mind to a final battle, consolidating his cohorts and building up to a conclusion, it is difficult to fault Marvel in their construction of excitement and tension – even if that means the audience having to overcome their frustrations to watch the Iron Fist finally do what he should’ve done several episodes ago.
All episodes of Iron Fist are available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.