We gave it a C-
Ward, Danny, Colleen, and Claire concoct some plan for Danny to infiltrate Rand Enterprises to steal the tablet, but things go sideways when Ward discovers that his father is surrounded by armed security. Harold becomes aware of his son’s duplicity and knocks him out, which forces Team Fist to go in there relatively blind. Thankfully, Danny isn’t too much of an idiot and enters the executive floor by swinging through the window, which was a pretty awesome entrance.
Thus, the fighting ensues. Colleen, determined to save Danny’s chi, gets an open shot at Harold and tries to attack, but fails. Danny turns the tide of the battle by slamming the Iron Fist on the floor, creating a shock wave that destroys the entire floor and knocks everyone down. Another cool-looking moment in a sea of meh!
From there, Harold runs to the rooftop, and Danny follows him to continue the rather boring fight, which lacks any sense of pathos. David Wencham, as he has for the entire show, is trying his hardest to sell these lines, but it’s not working, and the fight doesn’t make sense. Why does Danny kick the gun out of his hand and then run away? How does seeing Shao-Lao’s eyes in the red lights on the roof change Danny’s mind about killing Harold in the end? This is another instance where the show doesn’t do a great job of explaining the decisions characters make. But Danny realizing murder is not the answer is a necessary development on this heroic journey. Anyway, Ward and Colleen eventually make their way to the roof, and Ward does the honor of shooting his father on the ledge. I don’t know when I became invested in Ward as a character — I can say it’s almost entirely due to Tom Pelphrey’s performance — but I found Ward finally killing his father rather satisfying in a way I wasn’t expecting. Perhaps it’s because that relationship might’ve been the most clearly drawn one on the show. We understood the tension and years of abuse between those two from the beginning, and that stayed consistent throughout.
Barring another hilarious scene involving Jeri Hogarth (“I really didn’t realize there was going to be so much emotional honesty,” she says right before Ward and Danny cremate Harold’s body), the finale wrap-up is just as incoherent as everything that has come before. Davos meets with Joy and says that Danny ruined both of their lives and needs to be killed, and Joy seems interested in that. How did Joy go from defending Danny to her father to contemplating killing him? If there’s one thing that’s been relatively consistent about her character throughout the show, it’s that she has kept some sort of soft spot for Danny even when he was actually ruining things. What changed her mind now? Also, what does Madame Gao have to do with it? She’s shown listening in one table away. Is she there with Davos or Joy? If it’s the former, at what point did they team up? Davos’ entire thing was that he was devoted to K’un-Lun, so it’s hard to believe that he’d be working with Gao.
In the end, Iron Fist also ends up taking a similar approach to Rand Enterprises as the movies and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did with S.H.I.E.L.D. Ward ends the season as the actual head of Rand Enterprises, which sends the message: No, there’s nothing wrong with a big and seemingly omnipotent corporation like Rand; the problem is that the wrong people were in charge. (I’m assuming that everything Ward did was on his father’s orders. Who knows what he will do when he’s actually in charge).
Meanwhile, Danny decides to return to K’un-Lun because he still has much to learn about being the Iron Fist and needs to explain himself to the monks. He wants to be with Colleen, so he asks her to go with him. Unfortunately, their trip around the world is wasted because K’un-Lun is gone by time they arrive at the pass, and there are dead Hand henchmen outside of the gate. Danny is immediately filled with guilt over not being there to protect it, which means we’re probably in store for a very broody season 2, if that happens.
At this point, it’s fair to say that Iron Fist has been the weakest Marvel/Netflix shows yet. Sure, each one before it has had issues — don’t get me started on the messy back half of Luke Cage season 1 — but the problem with Iron Fist is that it didn’t come close to matching those shows in any respect: The fight scenes that didn’t involve Colleen Wing were dull, the writing lacked nuance, and the show didn’t have any specific perspective on a story we’ve seen told many times before. Furthermore, the show took itself way too seriously, which dragged everything down because it went against the natural pulpiness of the material, which has a lot of potential to be fun. Despite these problems, credit must be given to most of the cast finding a way to turn pretty great performances — save Finn Jones, who was miscast in the role. Both Jones and the script failed to make Danny a likable hero worth rooting for, apart from the fact that he will be included in The Defenders.