Iron Fist: 1.02 Shadow Hawk Takes Flight
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Note: This review contains spoilers for the second episode of Iron Fist. Check in later for a spoiler-free review of the entire first season.
Immobilizing the hero of a story is a tried-and-true tactic. It's the perfect opportunity to take a breather from the action and learn more about backstory or enhance relationships. However, Iron Fist makes the bold choice of isolating the protagonist in the second episode, without almost any revelations (except that hey! Iron Fist has an iron fist!), and making very little effort to flesh out the characters.
Shadow Hawk Takes Flight finds Danny Rand institutionalized by the Meachums. Ward and Harold, that father and son duo with the personality of two slabs of cardboard. They suspect that Danny is no fraud, and want to make sure that he has no chance of disrupting their business. In that loony bin, Danny meets Simon, who first tries to deflate our hero with a fork before professing that he isn't crazy, just misunderstood. More violent-prone goons pop up throughout the episode, allowing more uninspired fights. "Well, that's just stupid," Danny quips at one of them. Yes, Danny. Yes it is.
Most of the episode's bombshells come when the various characters realize that the real Danny Rand has indeed returned. That's a fine and necessary plot point to resolve, but the viewers already knew this, so letting it take up an entire episode seems a strange choice. Of course, Netflix shows are designed to be consumed at a rapid pace, so maybe dragging the show out an extra hour isn't as egregious as it could be.
One character being unfortunately pushed aside is Joy. For some reason, she's been kept in the dark about her father being alive (something that definitely won't create more family drama) and regarding Ward's plans for Danny. Sure, it's because the show wants to stress the alpha male, father/son relationship between Harold and Ward, but really, this is just another way that Iron Fist fails to dodge tropes.
In other news, the theory that the Meachums are just obstacles in Danny's path to the main antagonist has been confirmed, as we learn that Harold is colluding with the Hand, that sinister organization first seen in Daredevil season two. Even though he was resurrected by them, it remains to be seen whether or not Harold likes the Hand, or if he wants to use the Iron Fist as leverage against them.
Meanwhile, Colleen finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict that doesn't even seem very compelling to her. Ward's sheer dullness prevented him from being imposing as he tried to bribe Colleen. And at this point, her relationship with Danny is based on little more than curiosity. They'll undoubtedly spark up a romantic connection, but much like every element of Iron Fist, a lot of work needs to be done before it feels earned.
(Oh, one last thing. When Ward receives a call from his father, the contact reads "Stein, Frank N." When scholars debate about the most cringeworthy jokes of all time, that will take Honorable Mention at the very least.)