Iron Fist: 1.11 Lead Horse Back to Stable
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This review contains spoilers for Iron Fist's eleventh episode. A spoiler-free review of the entire first season will be released soon.
The perfect way to compare the writing of Marvel's Netflix series is Claire Temple. Rosario Dawson is a veritable chameleon, appearing in and adapting to the tone of all four Defenders series. Lead Horse Back to Stable was the most Iron Fist has utilized the character yet, and her scenes perfectly demonstrate the tragic flaw of the show: poor, poor script writing.
Danny is holed up in Claire's place after escaping Bakuto's compound (fun fact: now that she's cleaned up Danny's side wound, the Night Nurse has officially saved the lives of all three male Defenders. Jessica Jones, on the other hand, needs no assistance). He works to restore his chi and regain the power of the Iron Fist, but his emotions continue to disrupt the regenerative process. In the meantime, Claire is given ample space to probe the minds of both Danny and his K'un Lun pal Davos.
In one scene with Danny, Claire literally unspools every bit of the hero's internal conflict. The writer must perceive the viewers as helplessly obtuse, because they spell everything out for us. Wait a second: Danny is so upset because he never fully recovered from the trauma of losing his parents in the plane crash, and that's why he abandoned his post in K'un Lun and returned to his old life in New York? I never would have guessed! Thank goodness Claire was on hand (no pun intended) to explain it to me.
Davos's characterization suffers the same fate. Almost every person he runs into asks, "So do you have the Iron Fist, too?" And every time, he furrows his eyebrows as if to say "No, and I'm incredibly jealous about that," before admitting that Danny was chosen instead of him. Then, in a later scene with Danny, he actually takes the time to reveal that he's jealous about not being chosen as the Iron Fist. And then, Danny elaborates yet again about how he always felt empty following the crash in K'un Lun!
*Sighs exasperatedly* I tell you what, guys. I'm exasperated. See how redundant that is?
Anyway, to cover the basic plot points: Danny is mad at Colleen for being in the Hand, so she goes against Bakuto's wishes to try and win him over. Bakuto, being all-knowing, does not take this insubordination lightly, and punishes his pupil by prepping to turn her into a living blood bank, a la Mad Max Fury Road. Colleen escapes and runs into Danny, and the two of them decide to forsake their warring factions and hug in the rain. Davos stands dramatically in the distance, seething with rage at the sight of his old friend's insistence upon breaking oaths. The soapiness makes me wonder if Nicholas Sparks co-wrote this episode.
Meanwhile, Joy discovers that Bakuto has been channeling funds from Gao's Rand Enterprises accounts, and shuts those accounts down in an effort to draw Bakuto out. Harold eggs her on, still prone to uncontrollable bouts of rage. It's hard to say who over-acts their temper tantrums more, Finn Jones or David Wenham. It's a shame that Joy, one of the most tempered and enjoyable characters, is so overshadowed by her father and brother (who, again, is M.I.A., although his credits in 11 of the 13 episodes means that his return is inevitable).
There are only two episodes left of Iron Fist, and there are still a lot of hanging threads. Tying them all of would be tough feat, and this show can barely scrape by doing the easy things. To quote Luke Cage: "Sweet Christmas."