As Danny languishes in a mental hospital, more characters see the truth of his story
Credit: David Giesbrecht/Netflix

All right, welcome to your even-numbered Iron Fist recaps! First up, we have one of the weirdest selections of the first few episodes. After being betrayed and drugged by his childhood friends, Danny Rand is now well secured inside a mental hospital. After waking up, he’s immediately greeted by a creepy-looking doctor who keeps telling him weirder and weirder things. Eventually, the doctor tells Danny to commit suicide and offers to help – at which point orderlies rush in to restrain this doctor, revealing that he’s actually a fellow patient named Simon in disguise. At least his trolling is entertaining, though – the real orderlies have no problem forcing Danny’s mouth open and shoving pills down his throat.

Though we’re still not sure what (if any) powers Danny possesses, it becomes clear right away that the mental hospital drugs are really screwing him up. When he tries to meditate, he’s able to briefly visualize himself back at his family’s crash site in the Himalayas, but he can’t maintain that state. He tries explaining this to his doctor, that he is Danny Rand, the lone survivor of his family’s plane crash who was taken in by nearby monks, but the doctor clearly thinks Danny is deluded. He even has a passport with Danny’s picture and the name “John Anderson” to prove it.

The whole “Is he a superhero or just insane?” story line was probably done best in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s comic series The Ultimates. They got a lot of story mileage out of the mystery of whether their version of Thor was just a hippie who got hold of advanced technology – only to climactically reveal at the end of their run that yes, he was the same old Thor as always, complete with Loki and Asgard and all that. The creators of Iron Fist may have been trying to do something similar, but for one thing, Iron Fist isn’t nearly as recognizable a pop culture character as Thor. Even before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, comic readers could be relied on to have a passing knowledge of the Thunder God, thus allowing Millar and Hitch to play with expectations. But a decent amount of Iron Fist viewers will be seeing the character for the first time here, so going for the mental hospital fake-out this early is bound to confuse them, especially since we still know next to nothing about Danny’s origin. There’s no tension there.

Portraying mental hospitals as a prison to be escaped from is also an uncomfortable look. Simon, for example, walks Danny through the hospital and tells him about all the other patients. Danny is confident he’ll be out of the hospital soon, but according to Simon, every time a patient is due to be released, they get slapped with a different diagnosis to keep them even longer. So on top of failing to provide interesting tension, this episode’s hospital story line also makes weird implications about the nature of mental health treatment. At least Simon’s a real friend – he helps Danny out of his restraints so he can call Colleen Wing for help. Colleen, who in her brief appearances has already become the show’s most interesting character, hangs up on him. Oh well.

Though ultimately ineffective, that call was observed by Harold Meachum, who sends Ward to follow up with Colleen. When Ward protests, saying Harold should send “one of your guys,” Harold easily replies that Ward IS “one of his guys.” Ward is such an insufferable character that it’s somewhat satisfying to see him get constantly undermined by his father. Hopefully that relationship stays compelling.

In his meeting with Colleen, Ward brings his two favorite weapons to bear: money and lies. He tells a falsified story of his encounter with Danny last episode, saying that Danny was the one to draw a gun on him. Then he tells Colleen that if she signs a statement that Danny similarly threatened her or made her uncomfortable in any way, he’ll provide all the money she needs to upgrade her studio. It’s a tempting offer, but in true Faustian fashion, Ward gives her a few days to think about it.

At his next appointment with the doctor, Danny is shown a Rand family commercial from years ago. The point was to prove that Danny is not who he says he is, but Danny remembers that day clearly. They went to the circus afterwards. After Danny knocks all the doctor’s stuff off his desk in a rage, the doctor does a follow-up call with Joy and gets her to unknowingly confirm Danny’s story about the circus. Both Joy and the doctor walk away from the call intrigued.

Meanwhile, Harold is getting a little antsy. He decides to visit Danny himself, in the dead of night. He asks a groggy Danny what song he used to sing to him, and Danny confirms it was “Danny Boy.” Harold wants to know what monastery Danny went to, since there are no known monasteries near the recorded crash site. Danny tells him that the Order of the Crane Mother is based in K’un-Lun, one of the seven capital cities of heaven. There they trained him as a warrior, and now he’s the Iron Fist, the sworn enemy of The Hand. Harold doesn’t know what any of that means, but he’s about to find out. When he gets back to his secret penthouse, he finds the mark of a hand on his window and tells Kyle the Evil Intern to look up everything on the Iron Fist.

Danny tries meditating again but still can’t hold the state. But things are looking a little brighter. First, he gets a package of M&Ms from Joy, who is clearly starting to think twice about this whole scenario. Then he meets with Colleen Wing, who still hasn’t signed Ward’s papers. She asks if Danny is a danger to her, and he promises he’s not. He is a danger to the Meachums, though, and he gives Colleen a package to deliver to Joy.

It turns out to be the same M&Ms she sent him, but with all the brown ones removed. This is a clear signal to Joy, who used to avoid brown M&Ms when she and Danny would eat them as kids. She breaks down in tears, even as Colleen tells her she refuses to sign Ward’s papers. When Ward arrives, he tries to play it down, but Joy is convinced now. She emasculates her brother by comparing him unfavorably to Harold, which seems like the best way to anger Ward.

After Danny is able to successfully list all his old teachers, the doctor becomes convinced he’s telling the truth about being Danny. He’s a little less convinced of the whole K’un-Lun/Iron Fist thing, though. He diagnoses Danny with anxiety disorder and refuses to discharge him.

Harold, though, has other plans. He wants to keep Danny safe, in case he needs him in a future struggle with the Hand. So he forces Ward to send some men to “move” Danny to a Meachum home on Long Island. Of course, there’s nothing “safe” about the men who take a straitjacketed Danny into a room at night and start beating him up, but that’s probably the way Ward likes it. He even has one of the men tell Danny “Ward Meachum sends his regards,” like he’s Roose Bolton at the freaking Red Wedding.

Although Danny’s still groggy from the drugs, he still manages to power up the Iron Fist and take out Ward’s goons. Then he goes even further and breaks out of the hospital itself. Although this episode kind of felt like a run-around, at least we’re finally getting somewhere.

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Marvel's Iron Fist
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