Monday, 20 March 2017

Review - 'Iron Fist', S01E08 - 'The Blessing of Many Fractures'

Iron Fist may have had a shaky start, but the last few episodes have managed to achieve a fairly consistence level of quality. The series still isn't quite up to the same level as the best of Netflix's corner of the MCU, sure – but, it has still managed to be entertaining. It has managed to develop its cast of characters into genuinely rounded, and interesting, individual – and, it has managed to provide some great moments of action. It has even managed to find a sense of focus that it initial lacked, with the escalating conflict between Danny Rand and the Hand.

With all of that in mind, it feels like a genuine shame to have to admit that the season's eighth episode represents something of a step backward, after so much improvement – as flaws which plagued the first few episodes of the season became apparent, once more.

At the end of the previous episode, I had wondered whether the decision to kill off Harold Meachum would prove to be the right one, for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, based on this episode, at least, it seems that the immediate answer would have to be 'no'. Harold Meachum had been a fascinating figure – and, a genuine driving force behind much of the drama, even when he didn't actually appear in person. In the previous episode, he had seemed set to step forward into the spot-light – taking up a morally ambiguous role somewhere in the middle, between Danny and the Hand.

With his death, though, that potential is lost. There is still interesting drama to be found in Ward Meachum's feelings of guilt over his murder of his own father, of course. And, the internal power struggle taking place within Rand Enterprises, as Ward and Joy find themselves pushed out as a direct result of Danny's actions, offers some interesting potential. But, this sub-plot also feels increasingly distant, and unimportant, when compared to the action taking place, elsewhere.

I'm anticipating that the Meachums, and Rand Enterprises, are going to be brought back into the spot-light eventually, though. And, if nothing else, than at least Ward Meachum's gradual emotional break-down is being very well played by Tom Pelphrey. At the moment, though, it's all started to get a little dull.

On the other hand, Danny, Colleen, and Claire's trip to China, on the trail of Madame Gao, offers the potential for excitement which isn't quite as well realised as it could have been. For one thing, it all felt a little too easy – perhaps as a result of the episode's running-time being split between this main plot-line, and the Meachum's family drama. While the potential danger of the trip to China provided some great moments early on, as Colleen and Claire questioned Danny's true intentions, everything just seemed to fall together a little too neatly once the trio actually arrived. By the end of the episode, Danny had managed to successfully capture Madame Gao, and the trio had set out to return to America – and, what sense of genuine danger we were led to expect from the whole journey never seemed to materialise.

There was some entertaining action, of course. Colleen found herself in a brief, though exciting, one-on-one sword-fight, while Danny was drawn into an unexpected, and wonderfully outlandish, 'Drunken Master' style scene. Each action sequence proved to be a brief high-light in a main plot-line which, overall, just felt a little slow and sluggish.

This wasn't a bad episode, of course (it certainly wasn't as dull as the season's first episode had turned out to be) – but, it did give the impression that the series might have lost some of that forward momentum it had managed to build up over the past few episodes. The danger that the Hand is supposed to represent just didn't seem evident in this episode, though – so, Danny's apparent victory over the sinister organisation just felt a little hollow. Although, with Madame Gao now in Danny's custody, and with the reveal that she did have a clear role to play in the death of Danny's parents, after all, I just have to hope that the season is building toward something interesting.

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