Iron Fist: 1.04 Eight Diagram Dragon Palm
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This review contains spoilers for the fourth episode of Iron Fist. A spoiler-free review of the entire first season will be released soon..
Family plays a big role in the fourth episode of Iron Fist. To start, Danny Rand is finally accepted with love by a figure from his past. In this case, it's Harold Meachum, and even though we're keen enough to recognize that Harold's relationship with the Hand matters more to him than does Danny's return, our hero is too desperate for a warm homecoming to care. Ward, on the other hand, sees right through his once-dead dad's facade. Danny shrugs off his warning as jealousy of their blooming surrogate-father/son relationship. He's not entirely wrong.
Per Harold's instructions, Danny Rand is now officially back as majority shareholder of his father's business. At his first board meeting, he's appalled by the company's plan to profit off of a drug with the potential to save thousands of lives, and demands that it be sold at cost. The Meachums are not pleased with their old pal's humanitarian, anti-capitalistic ideals. More conflict ensues.
Eight Diagram Dragon Palm does a good job of finally making things a little interesting. Harold's character in particular feels more multi-dimensional, with the viewer learning more about his tortured separation from Joy. Even though she thinks him dead, he'll split skulls if it means protecting his daughter. Ward, on the other hand, remains a jealous, petty, and entirely uninteresting character. The show would be better off if he just disappeared.
Meanwhile, Danny begins to investigate Rand's recent acquisition of a pier for the Hand. A pattern is forming in Netflix's Marvel series: this is the third show, after Daredevil and Luke Cage, to involve baddies with interest in real estate. Why they want the pier remains a mystery, but the triads (previously appearing in Daredevil) aren't too happy about missing out on the pier deal. They send thugs to kidnap Joy, but unluckily for them, she has one hell of a bodyguard. Iron Fist finally gets a chance to show some of his fighting chops.
Speaking of fighting chops, Colleen enters the arena again, this time beating not one, but two giant men to a pulp, thereby doubling her prize money. Her action scenes still remain more interesting than the titular character, but overall, it does little to advance either the main plot or her characterization. The third episode already explained that she feels like she's dishonoring herself. This feels more like a rehash.
The episode's final scene reveals Danny's chest tattoo, which probably wasn't a surprise to anyone who did a quick Google search of the comics character before watching the the show. Eight Diagram Dragon Palm runs into the same pitfalls that will probably plague the show throughout the season, but at least it introduces more conflict and spices up the action. This could be the start of great forward motion, but it's probably best to proceed with trepidation.