After a slow intro and a bottle episode, the third outing for Netfilx’s newest Marvel series Iron Fist cranks things up to 11…by getting litigious about stock options and naming rights! “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch” gives us our first crossover character of this series and…it’s Carrie Anne Moss as lawyer Jeri Hogarth. Just when you think episode 3 is running mild, Colleen Wing shows up to whoop some redshirt bad guy ass and keep you in the game.
Episode 3 starts off with a bang as the Meachums’ goons break into the Chikara dojo looking for the newly escaped Danny. What happens next is the first of two Colleen Wing-led beat downs in this episode, meaning the streak of Jessica Henwick’s bujutsu master being the most charismatic part of the series is still going strong. It’s a good thing too, because storyline developments elsewhere spoil some of the goodwill a few of these characters had built in the previous episode. Anyway, Colleen fights off the baddies and it turns out that Danny was actually there the whole time, just doing that needless ninja “hanging from the ceiling” nonsense while this 100-lb woman beats the shit out of four large dudes. While dangling from the ceiling, a drop of Danny’s blood drips onto the lead henchman to hint that his cover may be blown, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why he should be bleeding when he had zero interaction with the bad guys. Danny then also claims to have broken no laws, seemingly forgetting the fact that he just literally punched the door (and good part of the wall) off of a mental hospital. Maybe destruction of property doesn’t register as a crime in Kun Lun? Regardless, Colleen tells Danny that she doesn’t want to have to deal with goons running up in her dojo all the time and tells him to be gone in the morning, to which he agrees.
So what does our hero, having recently promised his only friend that he would get out of her hair, decide to do? Precisely the opposite of that. Not only is he there the following morning, he proceeds to thoroughly embarrass her in front of her most prized student by trouncing her in an impromptu sparring session. Yet even then, Colleen allows herself to be talked into letting Danny stay for a few days on the premise that he not interact with any of her students. Guess what happens later in this episode? If you said he walks into a class and beats the shit out of one of her teenage students for making a fart noise in the dojo, you’d be oddly specific, but correct.
This episode is around the point where you have to wonder if the writers of the series know how to make Danny–or really any of their characters–likeable. Over the course of “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch” (my favorite Gatorade flavor, by the way), our hero throws no fewer than three tantrums, humbles his only ally by mansplaining kung fu theology to her (which works in her favor later on, which is kind of obnoxious) and attacks his old friends for saying that they aren’t actually his family (he’s been back for a few days at this point, remember. His “friends” haven’t known him for 15 years). Joy, who only recently began to redeem herself for drugging and kidnapping her childhood friend, shows that she can also be a rich movie bad guy (albeit a much nicer one) by using her influence to get a kidney for a potential business connection–almost assuredly taking the donated organ off of the donor’s list where someone more needy probably waited. Note: she doesn’t even know why her brother wants to purchase the connection’s facilities, she just does this to gain leverage. Later, Ward tries to connect with his sister by talking about leaving the business that he feels has made him a terrible person, implying they should both get away from it. In this, an unprecedented moment of vulnerability for Ward, she pedantically tells her brother that she’s sticking around and that she’d miss him. That’s to say nothing of her “We don’t want you here!” exclamation to Danny.
Paradoxically, Moss’ Jeri Hogarth, who was shrill and unlikable for most of her run through Jessica Jones, is a much more positive presence here in Iron Fist. So I guess that’s one?
In more interesting developments, Harold Meachum’s story takes a few compelling turns. In the first episode we were told that the family patriarch had died of cancer 10 years prior, only to emerge as an eccentric recluse in a well-appointed penthouse. This time around it’s clear that the still-living Meachum may still have a few health issues, as we see him drinking several health shakes and sleeping in some sort of hyperbolic chamber. This may be a bit of inference on my part, but it als appears his continued survival may be tied to The Hand, a mystical ninja collective that the Iron Fist is destined to destroy seeing as Harold gets a visit from the disembodied voice of Madame Gao, who threatens him and implies that they have some sort of deal.
The bulk of the A-story in this episode has to do with Danny proving that he is who he says he is. He hires Moss, an old family friend, to help prove that he is the proper heir to Wendell Rand’s fortune, but the Meachums have made a play to obtain and destroy all of the records that can verify that claim. Eventually, Danny remembers breaking his arm as a kid and goes to a non-EHR compliant hospital (must be a shitty hospital because that should’ve taken place by 2014) to track down the records. In the records room he is attacked by one of Meachum’s goons who sets fire to the room in the process. This sequence is baffling because even though we saw Danny easily avoid a surprise attack from the expertly trained Colleen Wing during their impromptu sparring match earlier in the episode, some doof who completely telegraphs his motion manages to get the best of our hero and nail him in the back of the head with a knuckle duster about 15 minutes later.
There’s a similarly peculiar logical lapse in the arbitration sequence where it is revealed that a bowl that Joy has been using for her keys (an old Rand family keepsake) contains not only a young Danny’s signature but one of his fingerprints as well. Admittedly I am not a forensic expert or a lawyer of any kind, but there’s NO WAY that that could be considered proof of identity, right? Like, that’s ridiculous. Even worse is that this key piece of evidence is literally handed to Ward Meachum during this meeting. Ward being the one person who would want to see this, a friggin’ 20-year-old ceramic bowl, broken more than anyone. Christ, Hogarth, have some freaking sense with how you handle your LONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE!
Oh, and because there ain’t no party like a logical fallacy party (because said parties typically don’t stop) let’s not overlook the awful writing/editing in this sequence that has the silver-tongued Hogarth responding to a put down from Ward a full 20 seconds (yes I actually counted) later. To paraphrase Jason Alexander’s character from Shallow Hal, “you’ve got like 3 seconds to respond. They’re called quips. Not slow-ps.” The lazy plotting continues as Ward walks out of this meeting, knowingly passing Danny I might add, while speaking on the phone with his secretly not-actually-dead father. Of course Danny overhears it and follows him to learn more about the Meachums’ plans against him. Solid villainy there, douchebag. Even Trump gives more consideration about whether or not someone is listening in on his wheelings and dealings when he holds court on a golf course. Admittedly this does lead to a pretty stellar cliffhanger at the end of the episode, but come on.
It’s not all bad this time out, though. Colleen’s foray into cage fighting is entertaining, if a little curious. Earlier in the episode she gave one of her students shit for participating, but joins up, kicks the ass of some roided out Zangief type, and moves on like it was nothing. The fight itself shows some good grit on Colleen, though it does make her character motivations somewhat more murky.
That being said, there are a lot of logical issues with episode 3, and despite two decent fights, “Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch” (it’s got electrolytes!) is a dud. See you tomorrow for episode 4: Mango Extremo Kick!