I finished all 13 episodes of Marvel's Iron Fist and figured I should come back and share my thoughts on the series as a whole. I will do my best to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but it would be impossible to talk about the series without giving some things away. So take that as a spoiler warning.
It's interesting that I broke the series into three for both viewing and reviewing because it really did feel like three distinct sections. The first four episodes introduced us to Danny Rand (Finn Jones), his childhood friends Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) and Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey) and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick). It focus on Danny's return to the world and his relationships. Jones plays Danny as naive and charming. An outsider trying to find his way back in after fifteen years while everyone is rejecting him. You feel for Danny who wants nothing more than to reconnect with his former life.
The second part is the fight to get his life back and to learn his place. He is supposed to be guarding the passage to K'un L'un, yet he left his post to return to New York. The dysfucntional Meachum family starts to fall apart as they each work their own angle on Danny. And we get a good idea of just how crazy Harold Meachum (David Wenham) could be. It also becomes a Netflix / Marvel series when Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson), Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho) and Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) appear, showing us that all things are connected. Here we see that Danny is far more damaged by his past than we'd seen earlier. He loses control occasionally and we see the rage he keeps burying.
Well, the third part is where things get a bit more crazy. There are betrayals after betrayals and dead people coming back to life. It becomes a shell game to try to figure out who the real villain is as everyone has plans on how to manipulate Danny. With the revelation of Colleen's past and the appearance of Davos (Sacha Dhawan), Danny loses control and becomes a raging bull, charging at thing without thinking about the consequences. His rage is always boiling at this point, right on the surface and ready to explode.
Danny's arc in the series is kind of a strange one. He is driven by his desire to fill the emptiness in his life. He only went after the Iron Fist because he thought it would give him purpose, but it doesn't. He comes back to the city to discover that everyone wants to use him as a weapon for their own purpose… and that is what the Iron Fist is, a weapon, but Danny isn't. He can't divorce himself form his previous life. When he sees what he believes is a sign to leave K'un L'un, he takes it in hopes of finding answers. But the answers did nothing but make things worse. The man we meet at the beginning of the story is in some ways better off than the one we are left with at the end. Every step along his journey let to more pain and betrayal. The answers to his questions did nothing towards him finding peace.
I like this series and I think it fits well with the other Damaged Heroes… or as Marvel calls them, the Defenders. I thought Jones did well as the charming, naive Danny but could've been better when the intensity picked up. I think Henwick was great as Colleen Wing. Like Danny's, her arc shattered most of what she believed, but unlike Danny we see that her strength will allow her to persevere and become a stronger. And I bought the feelings the two had for each other both in love and in betrayal.
I think Davos was a good character that could've been used well if brought into the series a bit earlier. I give all the credit in the world to Pelphrey for playing a role of someone who is despicable yet some how you feel sorry for him and almost cheer for him at the end. And Madame Gao may be one of the most well played villains in all of the MCU. Wenham's character of Harold Meachum was another that you find yourself liking one minute and then hating the next. I mean, he really tried to be nice getting Kyle (Alex Wyse) all of that ice cream.
The series is a slow but steady build that works it's way to a big payoff… and then delivers an okay one. The final showdown with Bakuto seemed some what anti-climactic. The battle at the Rand building in the finale was better, but in both cases it isn't Danny who finally defeats the villain. The thing I really liked about both the first season of Daredevil and Jessica Jones is that they felt like graphic novels where the whole story is complete in the one season. I would've preferred a better sense of closure.
It's a flawed series, but nothing on television is perfect. You can pick this apart as you can anything else… especially if you are looking to not like the series. I went in with an open mind and enjoyed the 13-hour journey. I will likely go back and watch the last two episodes again, just to better understand what the series left open and how it will lead into the Defenders. How this might tie in with the giant hole in the ground and Elektra. Or why those three people were together at the end of the series…
And Claire saying, "Sweet Christmas", may be one of the best Easter Eggs of all time.