Season 1 | Episode 101 | “Snow Gives Way” | Aired March 17, 2017
In the sea of superhero properties, it’s worth paying attention to what makes something unique. Super powers can start to blur together. Plots of similar construction can start to phase into one another. So when something stands out, it’s worth holding onto.
That reasoning is why when Marvel’s Daredevil premiered in 2015, people were so quick to hone in on how dark it was. The tone of that show was unlike anything we had seen from Marvel up until that point. It was dark and gritty. The characters had depth. There was a real sense of importance to that show.
Then, when Jessica Jones and Luke Cage showed up on the scene, the entire narrative around the Marvel Netflix team up changed. Yes, Daredevil had been good. But these shows were great. An edgier tone may be a characteristic of the Marvel/Netflix universe, but it’s defining feature is quality.
In its first episode, the defining feature of Iron Fist seems to be how incredibly boring it is. In his first 57 minutes on screen, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) spends a majority of his camera time trying to get into an office building. But we’re jumping into the heart of the episode too quickly.
If the show had started with Danny’s comic book origin, there would be something to be excited about. After all, at some point, we are expecting Danny to punch a dragon in the heart with his bare hands. Instead, the show opens up with Danny returning home from his time in Asia. He enters New York dressed like his plan was to be mistaken for a homeless man. Upton trying to enter his company’s building he finds that his way is barred. Apparently, it doesn’t matter how insistent you are that you are the long lost heir to the company, security simply will not let you in without shoes.
Danny manages to use his Kung-Fu training to slip past security nevertheless. He makes it up to the top floor of the building only to find that Harold Meachum, the man he’d hoped to meet with, is dead. In Meachum’s place stand his two children, Ward and Joy Meachum. They were Danny’s childhood friends! But when they don’t recognize him either, he is finally forced to leave the building without the answers he came looking for.
Over the remainder of the episode, Danny goes about his business breaking into various buildings from his past and sleeping in the park with a homeless man who calls himself Big Al. Big Al has pilfered a cell phone which Danny uses to google himself and Meachum- only to confirm what we already knew that Danny is believed dead and Meachum is dead.
Later in the episode, Danny tries to get a job teaching Kung Fu at a dojo from a woman named Coleen Wing. But Coleen isn’t interested in hiring a homeless man to teach Kung Fu at her failing dojo. So, after violently confronting Ward Danny begins to feel defeated.
Ward feels shaken up and goes to meet with somebody he trusts. That trusted person turns out to be his dad, Harold Meachum, who is not dead. Harold is just living on the top floor of a skyscraper, secretly giving his son all kinds of shadowy orders. You know, like you do. After the meeting, Ward decides to send his security team to kill Danny. But Danny uses his Kung Fu prowess to escape.
Trusting Joy, Danny breaks into the office building again to meet with Joy. In her office the two have tea, and Danny begins to explain himself. Unfortunately, Joy does not trust Danny, and the tea was drugged. Danny falls to the ground, blacking out, and coming back to consciousness in a mental institution.
I can not apologize enough to you for having to write all that. It is a shame that you had to read it. But, instead of reading it, imagine it acted out over 57 agonizing minutes. Nothing that this show manages to do is interesting.
The main disappointment of the episode is that there are no super powers in it. Iron Fist breaks with the tone set up in Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage. But it also fails to live up to the level of excitement in the first three shows. Danny never once uses his powers. At one point he does a rather impressive back flip, but besides that, the episode is almost entirely without action.
When Danny is roughin’ it in the park, he and Big Al have a conversation about life’s purpose. Danny is impressed that Big Al seems to know his purpose in life. Then Big Al puts Danny to the question
Big Al: What’s your purpose?
Danny: To protect K’un-L’un from all oppression and honor the sacrifice of Shun Lao the Undying.
Big Al: …Just remember to have fun along the way…
How different this series would be if Danny had listened to Big Al. If only he’d do anything fun or interesting. Fight scenes on the level of Daredevil episode 102 are so beyond anything this show could aspire to. Just a sustained, coherent fight scene would involve enough action that it would actually be enjoyable for a moment or two. Instead, this review feels like the hardest kind of homework because anything on earth sounds better than watching another episode of this show. There’s a whole second season of Terrace House to watch!
Nevertheless, we shall continue to persevere. Recaps will post at 8:00 am every day for the next two weeks. We will also have a special edition of the podcast at the end of the run of recaps. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all our ongoing Iron Fist coverage.