Iron Fist recap: 'Bar the Big Boss'
PREVIOUSLY: Iron Fist episode 11 recap
Well, here we are at my final Iron Fist recap. What a journey it’s been. The show itself almost seems halfway aware of this and does its best to come full circle for me – either that or this episode just coincidentally begins with an echo of episode 2. Except this time it’s Ward, not Danny, who’s waking up strapped down to a bed in a mental hospital. And though Ward has a litany of clear mental health problems (from drug addiction to anxiety to unresolved daddy issues), some of his visions are just as real as Danny’s were – especially the one of Bakuto coming into the hospital room to offer him a Faustian bargain.
Elsewhere, Bakuto is being discussed by Danny, Colleen, and Davos. Colleen vocalizes how Bakuto’s betrayal has shaken her faith in what she thought the Hand stood for, only for Davos to break in with the “don’t believe anything she says.” As much as this looks like Danny’s best friend beefing with his girlfriend for the Iron Fist’s attention, Davos actually raises some fair points here. He accurately points out that Danny told a member of the Hand about him, and the fact he didn’t know she was Hand means she lied, both of which seem like fair complaints. His conclusion (that they should blow up Bakuto’s compound with everyone inside) is a little less reasonable, though when Colleen tries to defend her former students he acknowledges that it must’ve been those students he was “breaking to pieces” during their escape from Bakuto. That earns him a punch from Colleen, but hey, at least someone on this show acknowledges that their supposedly deadly enemy is just a punch of deceived college students.
Danny breaks up their scuffle by saying they’re acting like “animals,” but it would be more accurate to say Colleen and Davos are behaving like children. That’s what everyone on this show does all the time, from Danny obsessing over his long-dead parents to Ward freaking out about unfair treatment from his dad. I know the Marvel/Netflix shows are all character-forming bildungsroman stories, but it would still be nice if the characters acted like adults from time to time and didn’t base all their actions around petty grievances.
Joy Meachum is the one character on Iron Fist who sometimes acts like a reasonable adult, but she’s a little busy at the moment. In Harold’s penthouse, she discusses the possibility of a future family vacation with her father, only to be interrupted by Ward. Bakuto isn’t far behind either; he’s here to fulfill his bargain with Ward: Bakuto will kill Harold once and for all in exchange for Ward giving Danny, and control of Rand, over to the Hand.
After punching out Ward (poor guy, it’s just so easy to humiliate him), Bakuto proceeds to literally FaceTime Danny with his demands: Get to the penthouse in 30 minutes or lose the only family he has left. Bakuto even draws his cool sword to show how serious he is about cutting Harold’s head off (the only true way to vanquish Hand zombies). Oh yeah, and he shoots Joy.
Even at the edge of final death, Harold is still an asshole. With his “last words,” he calls Ward a failure and says he should’ve chosen Joy as his successor. Just when it looks like Bakuto is going to kill Harold, Danny arrives to give himself up, and the Hand leave with him.
NEXT: Two big climaxes
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.