We gave it a B
In the elevator, Bakuto tells Danny that someone in his organization is very eager to work with the Iron Fist (would this be Sigourney Weaver’s Defenders supervillain?) and even offers to help him recharge his chi and “become who you were meant to be.” Danny replies that right now even he doesn’t know who he’s supposed to be. Perhaps embracing this chaos and taking responsibility for his own destiny is exactly what Danny needed all along, because once they get to the lobby, he’s finally able to reactivate the iron fist and escape his restraints. That’s the cue for Colleen and Davos to jump in, and this actually turns into a pretty fun fight sequence as the trio battles one Hand agent after another. They each get into some tight one-on-ones, too, with Danny’s iron fist facing off against Bakuto’s sword and Davos getting into a brutal struggle with another Hand operative. Bakuto’s able to slide out a side door, but his pursuers are hot on his tail.
Eventually, this all leads to a moonlit rain duel in the park between Colleen and her former sensei. As we’ve noted before, Iron Fist is better when it gives big action sequences to Colleen, because Jessica Henwick is simply much better at martial arts than Finn Jones. This fight also happens to come with a lot of emotional weight, plus some nice catharsis when Colleen finally guts her mentor and deceiver. At the last moment, she refuses to deliver the fatal blow, but Davos is more than happy to do so. This launches a second climactic battle, this time between Danny and his one-time best friend.
During the duel, Danny apologizes for leaving K’un-Lun without telling Davos he would do so. More importantly, Danny explains what he’s realized over the last 11 episodes: The Iron Fist isn’t just meant for the protection of K’un-Lun, and he can be both the Iron Fist, ancestral enemy of evil, and Danny Rand, heir to his family’s legacy and billionaire with a conscience. This is the most coherent the show has ever been, but Davos isn’t satisfied. All he knows it that the way to K’un-Lun is open, and he and Danny aren’t there defending it. He leaves, noting there will be consequences for their failure. That, at least, is something. I remain frustrated at the show’s refusal to explain why anyone should care about what happens to K’un-Lun, but indicating the potential for cosmic-level disaster gets us part of the way there.
Naturally, when Danny and Colleen turn around, Bakuto’s body is gone. Literally why would you ever leave the body of a Hand agent unguarded, even if you were convinced they were dead? Ward did that, and look where it got him – in a hospital waiting room, taking more of his dad’s abuse. Luckily, he’s getting smarter, and he catches on to what Harold means when he says that Danny has served his purpose. Ward is able to text Danny a warning, interrupting some cute couple yoga (set to Anderson Paak’s “Come Down,” no less – what can I say? This show has good if incomprehensible taste in its soundtrack). Thanks to Ward, Danny and Colleen are able to flee the dojo just as DEA agents swarm in. I guess Harold framed them for Gao’s heroin dealing or something? While there are still a few unanswered questions – like the exact nature of the Bakuto/Gao divide, for one – I think this would’ve actually made a perfect end for Iron Fist. Danny has a renewed sense of purpose, he and Colleen have established a healthy relationship, and they’re on the move to parts unknown, with some energy to carry you into The Defenders.
Alas, there is in fact a 13th episode, and so I leave you in Chancellor Agard’s capable hands for the finale. Thanks for reading.