Iron Fist: 1.06 Immortal Emerges from Cave
This review contains spoilers for the sixth episode of Iron Fist. A spoiler-free review of the entire first season will be released soon.
Who do you pick to direct the midpoint episode of Iron Fist? Enter rapper/director/martial arts film fanatic RZA, whose only previous directing credit was 2012's The Man with the Iron Fists. That title may seem a bit on the nose, but it doesn't really matter. Immortal Emerges from Cave is easily the most visually exciting episode yet, with Danny taking on three dynamic fighters in a challenge against the Hand.
Perhaps it's best to get the worst stuff out of the way first: Ward Meachum receives a larger share of time than the ideal number (which, in case you were wondering, is zero). In an effort to clean up appearances for Joy, this limp noodle tries to kick his pill addiction, which only leads to him jonesing and crushing his own hand in a desperate attempt to get some meds. The utter stupidity with which his character is written and acted has been mentioned in every episode review up to this point, so a disclaimer might as well preclude the article: This review does not waste space on Ward Meachum. Just know that he still sucks.
Meanwhile, Colleen and Claire are working to keep the heroin chemist Radovan alive after he was turned into a human kabob last episode. He is not entirely interesting, and the women seem to be eating up minutes as they realize that hey! The Hand has infiltrated the hospitals too! It was a pretty predictable reveal, considering that the Hand's wide area of influence is well-established. Danny's return to the Colleen's dojo with Radovan's daughter will be bittersweet, considering that the father is now kidnapped.
The boring family soap and hospital scenes play as intermissions of what is a solid story about the Iron Fist, who receives a challenge from the Hand to defeat the organization's greatest fighters. If Danny wins, the chemist's daughter will be returned, and the Hand will dissolve from Rand Enterprises. If he loses, then he will die. Simple enough, right?
The first opponents, a pair of knife-wielding Russians, aren't much to talk about. They're like an introductory boss fight in a game, showcasing the fighting mechanics but doing little to challenge the character. In fact, Danny's greatest conflict in this fight (and most of the episode) is Lei Kung, his mentor and trainer in K'un Lun that appears as an apparition visible only to Danny. Lei Kung asks Danny throughout the episode to forsake his birth name and fully accept his identity as the Iron Fist. But Danny, having left the heavenly realm of K'un Lun to find remnants of his old life, is reluctant to forget where he came from.
Round two finds Danny facing off against the Bride of Nine Spiders, a hyper-stylized woman who seduces the sexually inexperienced protagonist, then takes advantage of his vulnerable state by injecting him with spider venom. The environment consists of some bed sheets hung up haphazardly, creating a low-budget spiderweb vibe, but credit should be given where it's due. RZA at least tried to spice up the vanilla settings in Iron Fist with this arena, alongside the mystical entrance and a colorful (and bloody) karaoke bar.
Last but certainly not least is Scythe, a character as stylish and flat as the weapons he attempts to impale Danny with. After a few minutes of ducking and dodging, Danny unleashes the power of his Iron Fist for the first time in the episode. It makes you wonder, if he can channel his chi and become an unstoppable weapon at any moment, why wait until after twenty minutes of getting stabbed, sliced, and poisoned? Sure, a fight in which Danny instantly utilizes his powers would be short and unexciting for the viewer, but it's still an illogical plot hole in Iron Fist.
Immortal Emerges from Cave ends with a series of bombshells: Madame Gao knew Danny's father, and an older Iron Fist! She's visited K'un Lun! Her hands have some crazy magic, too! It brings up some interesting theories: was Wendell Rand in cahoots with the Hand, or with Iron Fists? Is Madame Gao actually the Crane Mother, a powerful villain from Iron Fist comics who's monastery was referenced early in Iron Fist? The answer to both of these is probably.
Viewers should be happy that Madame Gao made her way from Daredevil to this show, because she is certainly making things a lot juicier as the season's second half begins.