We gave it a C-
PREVIOUSLY: Iron Fist episode 12 recap
The first season of Marvel’s Iron Fist has been charting Danny’s journey from vagabond looking to reclaim his legacy to something close to being a hero of sorts. It’s been a rough ride, to the say the least, due to shoddy writing. Nevertheless, “Dragon Plays with Fire,” the rather disappointing first season finale — alas, there’s probably more of this on the way after The Defenders — attempts to bring this arc to its conclusion.
In the wake of episode 12, Danny and Colleen are on the run from the DEA, which believes Danny is the one behind the Hand’s heroin business inside of Rand Enterprises because Harold framed him. You would think this sort of on-the-run scenario would provide the episode with a sense of momentum, but it doesn’t. Instead, we’re treated to several dialogue-heavy scenes that lack any of excitement. However, there is an upside: Some of these scenes feature Carrie-Anne Moss and Rosario Dawson, whose characters are there to bring the snark and real talk. In fact, Jeri has my favorite line of the episode after Danny explains to her that Harold, whom she just ran into at Rand, has come back from the dead.
“Let’s make a list of things you’re never allowed to say again, starting with that,” she says. It’s great and one of the few moments of intentional and well-executed humor in the episode.
Based on Jeri’s advice, Danny and Colleen get to work on trying to clear Danny’s name by finding copies of the original files that Harold used to frame Danny. This quest takes them back the now-deserted Hand compound to talk to Gao. Unfortunately, Gao no longer has copies of said files, though she does have some obvious news to reveal to Danny: Harold is the author of all of his pain and is responsible for the plane crash that killed his parents. This has been pretty obvious for quite some time, but Danny is so naïve that he completely missed the fact that Harold has been manipulating him from the beginning. Gao also continues her mind games with Danny.
“You will only gain the strength of a real Iron Fist after you have killed Harold,” she says. “You must rid yourself of this anger.”
Which leads us to a debate about whether or not Danny should kill Harold when they finally confront each other. Danny, who is freaking out after hearing this news, believes he has to; Colleen says she should kill Harold for Danny because Danny’s chi will be ruined if he does it himself. God bless Claire for speaking up and saying these are both bad ideas and that they need to find other solutions that don’t involve killing. Claire reminds them the Hand tablet is still out there and everything would be better if they focus on getting that instead of murder. Amen!
So Danny contacts Ward, who is busy trying to make amends with his sister. Joy is still in the hospital recovering from her wound and has no interest in speaking to Ward because he tried to kill their father. Joy has had some pretty inconsistent characterization, but this scene contradicts what the show has been showing us in the past few episodes. Shots of Joy’s face as Harold contemplates murder revealed that she was uncomfortable with her dad and had a sense that all might not be right there, and yet here we have her defending him against Ward, who, admittedly, has known this version of him for many years and is the right person to say that something’s not right. It’s not until Ward reveals what Harold did to Danny that Joy starts questioning things. Joy confronts her father about the Danny, but Harold is unable to convince his daughter that he didn’t do it.
NEXT: The final boss battle