Warning: This recap contains spoilers for the Iron Fist episode, “Eight Diagram Dragon Palm.” If you haven’t watched yet, in the words of Colleen Wing: “That would be a mistake.”
It’s not often we get an episode that picks up after a literal cliffhanger – or would that be cliffdropper? Danny’s still falling after being pushed from an open window by an unseen assailant, and while he manages to slow his descent by grabbing onto a light fixture he soon loses his grip. He’s saved by a ledge, but the impact of the fall is enough to knock him out.
When Danny regains consciousness after the opening credits, he’s nursing his probable concussion on a couch in the penthouse he was just roughly forced to leave. He soon learns that Ward was the one who pushed him out the window – “it’s what you do when you see someone trying to break in” – but before he and Ward can come to their usual verbal blows Harold walks in to break up the fight. Danny can’t believe his eyes at first – Harold looks exactly the same as he did 15 years ago – but then realizes that not only is Harold still alive, he also wasn’t hallucinating when his father’s former partner came to visit him in the hospital.
Harold finally tells the tale: he really was fighting cancer, and he was practically on death’s door when the Hand approached him with a cure. In essence, he was resurrected – something many Daredevil fans have speculated will happen to Elektra given her fate at the end of season two. Now that Harold is alive again thanks to the Hand, he’s in their debt – and since Danny is their sworn enemy as the Iron Fist, Harold needs Danny’s help in freeing him from his shackles. He’s been forced into hiding – and what’s worse, he can’t see Joy. Danny says he can’t do much because of the ongoing litigation blocking him from returning to Rand Industries, and Harold orders Ward then and there to drop the lawsuit and let Danny back in the company.
Colleen continues to weigh over the ramifications of participating in that illegal cage fight – especially after one of her students films the match and posts it online. While she’s made a point of mentioning that there’s no honor in fighting for money, it also looks like it might not be about the money for her – not really. After a failed sparring session with a practice dummy, she returns to the ring – and holds her own not just against one fighter, but two. While it’s super thrilling to watch Colleen Wing beat down a couple of dudes twice her size, one can’t help but wonder which part of herself she’s sacrificing by engaging in these fights to try and chase the high of winning. Danny certainly seems to be on to her later; he resets her pinky finger from a failed Leopard Punch, but doesn’t press her further on the details. If she’s getting in over her head, it might be a lesson she has to learn the hard way later on.
At the official press conference for Danny’s return to the fold of Rand Industries, Ward warns him to stick to the script without any deviating. When reporters begin clamoring for a quote (including one from the previously-established New York Bulletin), Danny manages to sidestep an inquiry about his time in a psychiatric hospital by emphasizing Ward and Joy’s concern for his well-being. “I couldn’t have come back strong without them,” he says, deliberately looking in Joy’s direction.
Danny’s first official day at Rand doesn’t come without its complications. When he tries to book a meeting with Joy to discuss the pier deal she made in the last episode, he’s brushed off by her assistant. He’s been given his father’s old office – complete with the desk that still has Danny’s monster stickers stuck underneath – but as he sits down to try and get to work he’s never looked more like a little kid. The truth is: Danny’s not cut out for an office job, and as the day goes on he proceeds to make some decisions that make him a very unpopular person with the board. When he uses his controlling share of Rand to insist that the company sell a drug at cost instead of raising the price to make a profit, Ward and Joy share a glance that says it all: when it comes to the future success of Rand Industries, they’re going to have to keep Danny out of the way. Joy agrees to take that meeting with Danny to discuss the pier deal after all.
Danny and Joy head back to the suite at which Hogarth’s firm is letting him stay, and without telling the complete truth he goes into some of the history of how he became the Iron Fist. To make a long story short: once he learned about the “job”, he knew he wanted it – and so he fought long and hard to earn the right to have it, even though everyone at the monastery doubted his qualifications. There’s a part of Danny that still wonders whether it was his destiny to become the Iron Fist or merely the strength of his own “stubborn will” – and as he reveals to Joy, he’s not certain it was all worth it in the end. Their catch-up session is soon interrupted by a group of men in suits at the door; they drag Joy out the door and wield hatchets when Danny follows. In a fight sequence that progresses down the length of the hallway and inside an enclosed elevator, Danny takes down each of Joy’s captors one by one – but allows one of them to flee, since he knows he’ll be able to track them to where they came from: the Golden Sands.
A tip from Colleen gives Danny more answers: it’s the name of a restaurant that serves as a cover for a local Triad mafia, the Yang Clan Company. Danny heads over to confront the head of the Yang Clan, who claims they only wanted Joy to interrogate her on why Rand stole the pier away from their organization. As soon as Danny name-drops the Hand, it’s more than enough to scare them away from any further involvement.
As thanks for securing the pier, Madame Gao escorts Harold out of his penthouse to where he can observe Joy from a distance. Harold spots a fresh bruise on her face and immediately demands to know who’s responsible. Shortly afterwards, the Yang Clan Company receives a visit from the Hand – along with Harold, disguised in a mask, who exacts revenge on the man responsible by putting a sword through his head.
Danny’s back in his hotel suite doing some tai chi when he receives a mysterious note at his front door from the leader of the Yang Clan: This is the answer for which you seek, along with a red symbol drawn on a single piece of paper.
- Ward invokes the name of another Defender when discussing Danny’s building-scaling antics: Daredevil. I wonder if we’ll be hearing any mentions of the other two members of Danny’s eventual team?
- Danny waving at Hogarth during the Rand press conference was a small, adorable moment.
- Am I the only one who thought Ward was going to seduce that Bulletin reporter in order to get her to ditch her story? He wound up taking a different route – and got Danny painted as an honorable businessman in the press. What could he be up to?
- This episode marks the first instance in which we see the dragon tattoo on Danny’s chest. We get a shot of his glowing fist when one of the Yang Clan’s members attempts to chop it off with a hatchet, which breaks apart at the impact.
Things are definitely ramping up for the Iron Fist. What were your favorite parts about this episode? Let us know in the comments or seek me out on Twitter and we’ll talk!
You can do it! Read episode 5’s recap right here!