Week of November 5, 2023:

Bar the Big Boss (Iron Fist s1 e12) released March 17, 2017 (where to watch)
Dragon Plays with Fire (Iron Fist s1 e13) released March 17, 2017
Scott Hardie | April 2, 2024

Bar the Big Boss: This episode felt a lot like a comic book, and not just because it dabbled briefly with a split screen. Bakuto is dead, killed in a beautiful and rain-soaked fight with Colleen Wing, but he's gone and almost certainly due to return alive because we know what genre this is. Davos and Danny Rand argue until a fistfight emerges, and their unresolved conflict is almost certainly due to come up again. Everything seems serene and settled at the end, until Harold Meachum's inevitable betrayal sets up yet another frantic adventure for next time. If I had paid a few bucks to read this in print form, maybe with a Bullpen Bulletins page at the end, I'd call that a satisfying issue.

The episode is even more of a success for capping Colleen and Danny's moral arcs through the series, as she fully overcomes the Hand's conditioning and he accepts the necessity of mercy. I love how Davos embodies everything that Danny was trained to be and that their conflict rests on Danny rejecting that training because he sees through it. Davos is his own person with intriguing quirks (I liked his reaction to pizza last episode), but he's perfect as a symbolic foil for Danny, especially because half of the things that he says are right.

I liked the long take in the elevator, slowly zooming in on Danny as he focuses his mind on what he has to do while Bakuto taunts him from behind. And while I love Anderson.Paak's "Come Down" and appreciate the lyrical appropriateness, if I were the music supervisor, I probably wouldn't have chosen it for the peaceful moment near the end of this episode if it meant repeatedly censoring a certain word so noticeably and distractingly. (7/10)

Dragon Plays with Fire: Meh. Even by the standards of this genre, in which crises are always soon resolved and the status quo always inevitably restored, the reset of Danny's fugitive status is especially rapid. I don't believe that the DEA would act so quickly to arrest Danny on some digital evidence alone, nor be so quick to give up the case, but that's what kind of show I'm watching. (Frustratingly, there's no mention of Colleen's case being dropped too. It's not that we can't assume that she's free now; it's that she matters as well.) I don't care for a bribe being the way to solve the problem, but in the interest of concluding the story expediently in time for the season to end, I can accept it. As for the final battle with Harold, it's nice to get confirmation of what long seemed likely (that he was being the fatal plane crash), it's nice to see his fight training finally pay off, and it's nice to get confirmation that he's dead for good this time, because I was getting tired of him. Joy seems likely to follow in his footsteps if the epilogue is any indication, but she needs a new direction herself. I also really liked the big hero shot of the episode, when Danny punches the floor and sends everyone flying. I do not understand how a major corporation who must employ thousands of people in its headquarters could get away with armed mercenaries guarding its lobbies and elevators, but whatever. (4/10)

Early in the series, Danny experienced flashes where the screen would seem to shake and develop white scratches. They disappeared for a while, and returned here. How do you interpret those? In the beginning I thought they were just PTSD, but now I think they're a cinematic representation of his chi being out of alignment when he's doing something that he believes deep down that he shouldn't do, which in this case is his angry decision to kill Harold. Then again, I'm probably wrong, because he's able to use the Iron Fist before giving up on his vengeance. And he's able to use it again to deflect a bullet, which is cool but weird in that nobody remarks on him using it again so soon.

Now that the season's over, I have to be honest that I enjoyed it more the second time. It's still a big mess with a lot of tedious time-wasting, but Danny's obnoxiously short temper was less grating when I knew that it was part of an arc for his character, and I appreciated the seemingly endless twists in the story of Harold and Madame Gao and Ward Meachum when I no longer felt any need to care about the outcome. The gap between the parallel stories of Danny/Colleen and Harold/Ward was too wide for too long, but ultimately everything connected. The series (so far) is deeper and smarter than I gave it credit for the first time, although I still think it's the weakest of the four main Defenders series by a significant margin. What did you think? I look forward to watching the second and final season, which I have not seen, as part of this project.

season rating: 4/10 (It was ok.)
best of season: "Lead Horse Back to Stable"
worst of season: "The Blessing of Many Fractures"

Scott Hardie | April 2, 2024
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Scott Hardie | April 3, 2024
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