Warning: This recap contains spoilers for the Iron Fist episode, “Under Leaf Pluck Lotus.” If you haven’t watched yet, in the words of Colleen Wing: “That would be a mistake.”
The episode kicks off with a short montage: three women in business attire march down the street, each carrying an identical suitcase. As they each make their pitch to their potential customers (a businessman, a doctor and a drug dealer), we discover what they’re selling: a new form of heroin, one that’s been designed to prevent the human body from ever developing a resistance to it. In case you didn’t realize how sinister this is, each of their suitcases bears a tag with the same symbol Danny received on a note from the Yang Clan leader at the end of episode four. Drugs, pier access, Rand Industries – I’m starting to see how this all adds up.
Danny’s doing his own detective work on the sample that was included along with the note, and enlists the help of a Rand scientist named Sandi. She points out that a drug with these kinds of properties could lead to a major epidemic in New York City, and Danny says he’s going to personally look into the problem. He confronts Ward with the evidence that synthetic heroin is going to be smuggled into the city now that Rand has bought the pier away from the Yang Clan: drugs manufactured by the Hand. Ward dismisses Danny’s claims and says he has real business to handle in the real world, but if you thought that would be enough to deter the Iron Fist you haven’t been paying close attention.
Cut to: Colleen Wing’s dojo. She’s teaching a student and from the looks of things, they’re making great progress. It doesn’t take long to decipher who that student is: Claire Temple. We saw her looking at one of Colleen’s fliers at the end of season one of Luke Cage, so it was apparently just a matter of time before she decided to pursue the idea. Claire also seems to be the one character thread linking all of the Defenders together; no matter how hard she tries to live a normal life, she’s going to be pulled back into their orbit time and time again. During their cool down, Claire admits she’s still getting used to “bringing the hurt instead of fixing it”, but that she’s also “tired of people doing things for [her] all the time.”
Their training session is interrupted by Danny soon after, who shows up with an offer of takeout lunch for Colleen so he can pick her brain about the drug issue. Of course Danny’s concept of ordering takeout is bringing in something catered from his father’s favorite restaurant–candles, fancy silverware, the whole nine yards. He’s quick to insist that it isn’t a date but Claire picks up on some major vibes between Danny and Colleen and casually invites herself to lunch, too – mostly to run interference for her pal Colleen. (What a good friend, amirite?)
The three make awkward small talk before the conversation turns serious, and after Claire excuses herself Danny comes right out with the real reason for his showing up: he needs a way to gather more evidence to show Ward that drugs are being smuggled in through the pier. There’s a shipment arriving tonight, and he needs someone to watch his back. Colleen isn’t sure she’s up to the task but Danny insists that she is. Part of the reason she’s been doing those underground fight clubs is because she’s restless and unsatisfied. The drug would also be a threat to her students; by helping Danny, Colleen would be protecting their futures too. “If it helps, you can forget about rent this month,” he adds. “I bought your building.” How do so many of these superheroes turn out to also be billionaires? Colleen’s in, as long as the leak under her sink gets fixed.
Colleen and Danny show up at the pier to try and document some of that needed evidence. Each of the trucks are opened and inspected, but there’s no heroin in sight. Danny decides he needs a closer look and jumps into the back of the last truck while Colleen keeps an eye out. While Danny’s investigating the truck’s contents, he gets locked inside and the truck starts to drive away to a destination unknown. Colleen steals a van from a security guard and follows in pursuit.
Danny discovers a false back in the shipping container and ducks behind a tarp covering a door. Inside, there are still no drugs, but there is a man sitting comfortably and watching a soccer game. His name is Radovan, and he’s the chemist. He’s also not alone; a bodyguard stands up from the couch and charges towards Danny. The two of them fight all over the interior of the makeshift apartment, and they’re pretty equally matched, but in the process, Radovan gets stabbed in the chest. Danny eventually bests the bodyguard and takes Radovan with him, using the power of the Iron Fist to punch their way out the back. A quick jump onto the hood of Colleen’s stolen car and they’ve officially maneuvered their escape.
There’s just one little problem: Radovan is a wanted man in several countries, and not only is he a known criminal but the Hand will already have people out looking for him. The situation becomes even more complicated when Radovan reveals that the Hand has kidnapped his daughter Sabina as leverage to manipulate him into manufacturing more of that heroin. They take him back to Colleen’s dojo and enlist Claire’s help in trying to patch him up, but there’s only so much field medicine she can perform given the severity of Radovan’s injuries. He’s stable, but for how long? Claire is understandably terrified when she learns the Hand are involved; they were the people responsible for the death of her colleague in season two of Daredevil, not to mention the loss of her job.
Meanwhile, the truck has finally reached its destination, but without the package it was supposed to deliver. The bodyguard Danny bested meets with Madame Gao and other members of the Hand to explain what happened: “He punched through solid metal with his bare hands.” “Are you sure it wasn’t his fist?” Gao questions, examining the twisted metal left behind. Unfortunately for this bodyguard, there are consequences for failing the Hand, and Gao pulls a hidden blade free from her cane to exact his deadly punishment.
- A sideplot in this episode involves an ongoing lawsuit against Rand Industries over a plant in Staten Island that’s allegedly responsible for causing cancer in 15 people. When the Meachums roadblock the prosecution suing them on behalf of the affected families, one mother seeks out Danny to ask him to do something about it. It looks like Danny is going to continue to be caught between a rock and a hard place now that he’s officially a top dog at Rand.
- Speaking of the Meachum family, Ward’s not doing so hot. We’ve seen him periodically take a pill here and there, but in this episode he finally downs the whole bottle. The pressures that come with the position are seriously getting to him.
- Claire is pretty much done with running into superheroes at every turn, and I don’t blame her. Her reaction to learning Danny is another one is priceless, but she’s also going to put her faith in him the same way she has every other member of the Defenders. Claire Temple is the heart of these shows, without question.
The stakes are higher than ever before for the Iron Fist, but his journey is far from over. Were you happy to see a familiar face in episode five? Share your thoughts in the comments or come find me on Twitter and we’ll talk Claire Temple.
Be sure to check out our recap of the next episode of Iron Fist right here.