Iron Fist Season 2-A Review

Posted: 09/13/2018 in Uncategorized


I was among the minority who thought season 1 was good. The people had spoken though. Finn Jones’ Danny Rand/Iron Fist was boring, part of the 1 percent, a vessel of cultural appropriation…and so forth. ‘The people’ clearly never read a goddamn Iron Fist comic…failing to recognise that Roy Thomas’ vision was to present a fish out of water, a young American man separated from his family and raised by a mystical group in a hidden realm called ‘K’un L’un. Somewhere along the way, folks took this to read as “a white savior” complex and again failed to recognise this was never the intent of  character created in the seventies. These failings have led to the second season which in itself is a grand failing, giving folks what they think they want and caving into public pressure. My pained review follows.

I will begin with the positive. Two actors killed it this season. Tom Pelphrey as Ward Meachum dazzled. Equal parts self proclaimed a@#hole and loneliest billionaire at large, Ward Meachum was one of the most watchable characters. In this season he is deeply humanized, both in his relationships with others and via the assertion that he is capable of being physically involved when he feels invested. His relationship with his N.A. sponsor Bethany (Natalie Smith) allowed him more character development including the eventual denouement of his arc. Newcomer Smith gave a solid performance.  His moments with Danny resonated and hit all due emotional beats. Ward’s love for his sister Joy (Jessica Stroup) is deeply complicated. No less so is her anger toward him and Danny Rand (Finn Jones). Her performance is the more muted of the two, but like Pelphrey, Stroup demonstrates much without overwrought performance. Connecting the siblings is Joy’s back stage play involving Danny’s ‘other brother’ Davos (Sacha Dhawan). The confluence of arcs delivers wonderfully. Only Ward has made his peace with Danny and endeavors to broker a similar one with Joy. Joy’s plan of ‘starting something of her own’ is multi faceted, leaving the viewer to ponder her intentions, namely is she deeply flawed, villainous or a decent human being who is hurting and lashing out. The siblings’ parentage certainly informs nearly all their actions.

Making this season shine somewhat more brightly is Alice Eve. She plays Mary Walker (aka Marvel’s “Typhoid Mary”). The character’s history is rewritten to a goodly degree but the performance is stellar. Eve creates a deeply damaged, yet still quite sympathetic figure in her Mary/Walker character.  Through her, attention is drawn to dissociative identity disorder without it becoming a preachy plot device. Eve’s raw physicality played exceedingly well as she at different points engages both the “Immortal Iron Fist”/Danny Rand himself as well as the man who would usurp him, Davos.

Last season, one of the frequent complaints that held some validity were the ‘shaky’ fighting sequences. Now, I thought they were fine, but compared to Daredevil or even CW/DC network offerings, it did pale somewhat. This season resolves the issue quite adeptly via the fight choreography team behind the epic “Black Panther” coordinating. Fighting was crisper, faster and most importantly more natural looking. Stand outs were Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing who was pretty damn crisp last season. Eve’s movements were fluid and even the much derided Iron Fist himself fought far more naturally and tightly than last season. Stand out moments included his one on one K’un L’un battle with Davos for the right to face Shao Lao for the Iron Fist. Fighting was grittier this season and as such more in line with the Netflix/Marvel brand.

Some criticism was lobbied toward Dhawan for not being ‘frightening’ enough. While he is not a large or tall character, he was duly intense and his demonstration of skill and ferocity was gamely illustrated. The man is a seething cauldron of anger. The only spot where his character might fail is in his justification for his actions via his mother’s treatment and cruelty. Dhawan endeavors to present the hurt he feels, along with the emptiness, but it is in his wrath that he is very successful. He is a scary dude, plain and simple. His combination of chaste spirituality mired with excessive violence made for another watchable performance.

Simone Missick’s Misty Knight was again a welcome sight and the teasing of “the Daughters of the Dragon” is once again offered. MCU tv series and film universes are seamlessly linked with references to Luke Cage and Sokovia. So much goodness…and yet…this show gets a fail overall. Misty is unfortunately the springboard through which this is allowed to happen. The friendship between the women allowed for one of the better moments in Luke Cage Season II. In LC II, Danny and Colleen travel to Harlem for a visit and both demonstrated a swagger and joie de vivre that gave that show an infusion of cool not to mention very solid fight sequences. Here Colleen was self assured and acted mentor-ly toward Misty who upon losing her arm had lost her focus.

In Season II Colleen is more pacifistic. She works at a community outreach centre and volleys for a more normal existence, opting to support Danny who goes the other way, striving to keep the peace and keeping his promise to Matt Murdock/DD (Charlie Cox) referencing “The Defenders”. The show takes a darker turn, namely visiting Danny’s growing enjoyment of his power and need to release ‘the fist’. I was fearful this arc would lead the show to a bad end…I need not have feared though. The current climate took it to an even harsher end than I could have predicted.

Up until the penultimate episode, I would have categorized this season as superior…but the path taken to the ascension of a hero “everyone” wants led to an undoing of a Marvel classic and a convoluted ending that was just head-shaking-ly bad and bizarre. I will exemplify my frustration in one terse phrase, “Shining Colleen, Hidden Gunslinger Danny”…..Ugh….My only regret was not capturing my wife’s facial disdain as matters leading to the series conclusion went down. Honestly, it will take effort to watch next season should the show manage to broker another installment. Iron Fist Season II was neither outstanding nor well worth your time.


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