Season 1 | Episode 105 | “Under Leaf Pluck Lotus” | Aired March 17, 2017
There have been some criticisms hurled at Marvel since Iron Man first premiered in 2008. Many of them are earned. Marvel has a villain problem. Everything Marvel makes drags in the middle. Marvel has a third act issue. And while Iron Fist, definitely, definitely, definitely has not been a perfect show, it also seems like it might be the show that breaks the Marvel mold.
That distinction hasn’t made Iron Fist a great show. But it seems more likely with each episode that it is making it an entertaining show. If not on a content level than at least on a meta-level. If you don’t find Danny Rand’s adventures as Iron Fist interesting, then you might find it interesting to sit, watch this show, and think “This is the same company that made The Avengers.”
As we enter episode four, Under Leaf Pluck Lotus, Iron Fist is dangerously close to having a plot. The first several episodes have been spent watching most of the cast chase each other in a circle around questions like “Who is Danny Rand” and “Can we trust each other.” Now that most of that nonsense is done, we can actually get down to the serious business of super heroics. I want to see Danny punch somebody in the face with super powers!
Appropriately enough, this episode centers around the idea of duty. After allowing Danny to wax poetically on the theme of destiny in episode three, it’s only right that Marvel gives him the opportunity to actually do something this time out. Most of his efforts this episode are put into an attempt to break up a heroin ring. I know, that sounds like something a superhero would actually do. Strap in, it’s going to get crazy. Meanwhile, Colleen experiments with new ways of working out her aggression, and secrets drive Wade and Joy farther apart. Oh, and Claire Temple shows up.
This episode opens with some very attractive, high heeled heroin dealers pushing their wears around town. They pop into all the usual venues: drug dealer hideouts, high-end office buildings, doctors’ offices. Like you do. Their new synthetic heroin goes on like a bandaid and and aparently gets you super high. So, you know, if that’s what you’re looking for, they’ve got you covered.
At the Rand Corporation, Danny has put his best people on investigating the heroin sample he received at the end of the last episode. I know, Danny has people now. The whole thing is insane. I actually paused the episode to see if they had pulled a Daredevil style show-runner swap half way through the season. Anyway, Danny asks Sandy the…
doctor lab tech white coat owner to keep investigating where the heroin is coming from.
Elsewhere in the building, Joy is meeting with a lawyer representing families of former Rand Corp employees. They are upset because a disproportionate number of people who worked at one particular factory got cancer. We see two sides of Joy in this meeting. She is determined to keep blame away from Rand in the boardroom, but she feels genuinely bad for these families after the meeting. While the acting on this show is still leaving much to be desired, we are starting to see more nuance to these characters than before.
Danny isn’t as morally nuanced, though. Outside he is hoodwinked by the cancer victims into admitting corporate guilt. The lawyer for the group secretly records him apologizing for what is happening to the families. He also tells them that he is going to do everything in his power to make it right. But, considering that his last bout with naivety made him a front page hero, let’s not consider this a complete loss just yet.
Then Danny hoofs it on over to Colleen’s dojo. She’s giving a fighting lesson to everybody’s favorite Night Nurse, Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson). Danny interrupts the class with a very fancy take out date which Claire unceremoniously crashes. Danny and Colleen swap stories about eating donkeys. Everything is really cute until we find out that Danny took a vow of chastity to become the best Kung-Fu fighter he could. That pumps the breaks on the ‘ship pretty quickly.
Sensing the awkwardness, Claire grabs a couple of arms full of takeout to go and hits the road. Then Danny and Colleen get down to business. Danny tells Colleen about the heroin importation. He says that he needs her help because he can’t cover his own back. After a bit of cajoling, which involves Danny revealing that he’s now Colleen’s landlord, the two set off to fight for justice.
Back at the Rand Corporation, Joy and Ward are fighting tooth and nail against owing anything to these cancer patients. Ward, in particular, does not want to settle. He’s worried that it will show weakness. Joy’s personal feelings are that the company should pay. She is affected by the connection between these people and her father, Harold, who dies of cancer before being resurrected by the Hand. Despite her own misgivings, Joy backs her brother’s position to the board.
Danny and Colleen are getting ready for their big night out on the town. They play with swords, and nunchucks, and all sorts of things that they probably shouldn’t be playing with. There’s a flirtiness to it. These two are definitely going to touch mouths soon. It’s going to be great. Look! Now, this show has got me invested in a relationship! I’m telling you, it’s changed since the first episode.
Anway, Colleen, and Danny go the pier. There are bad guys there. They sneak around in the shadows because no matter how much this show has changed, it still won’t show a fight scene unless it absolutely has to. While they sneak around Danny and Colleen talk about people’s real intentions. It’s an interesting conversation, but probably not one that’s appropriate for a stealth mission.
Perched high up on some crates, Danny and Colleen have a view of the Hand unpacking three shipping containers that have just come into port. The first is filled with supplies of some kind. The second is definitely full of guns. The third has a bunch of cardboard boxes in it. But Danny will not be daunted. He is so sure of his lead that he runs down to the container and sneaks inside. But when the Hand agents close it up, and it starts to drive away on the back of a truck, Colleen has to improvise. She quickly steals an SUV and races off after Danny.
Inside the truck, Danny finds a scientist behind held hostage by a generic looking bad guy. The henchman in question pulls a gun on Danny, but that’s nothing a little Kung-Fu can’t handle. Danny avoids harm in the scuffle and successfully knocks his enemy unconscious. The chemist is pretty badly hurt, though. He took a bullet through the chest. So Danny uses his incredible super power for the first time this episode, to punch open the back of the truck. Then he and the scientist jump onto Colleen’s SUV and drive back to the dojo.
At the dojo, Claire goes full Night Nurse on the chemist and fixes his lung with a credit card. Unfortunately, the Hand has the chemist’s daughter. Claire is understandably upset that she’s involved with the Hand again. But she’s also able to explain how they work to Danny. Claire explains that the Hand kidnaps children and uses them to blackmail the parents into doing what they want. Danny and Coleen decide that they owe it to the chemist to save his daughter.
Elsewhere, we finally see who is running the Hand. The old woman, whose voice we have heard talk to Harold so many times this season, is furious with the man Danny fought in the truck. She is so enraged that she stabs him through the head. The camera pans up to show us that this woman is Madame Gao from Daredevil season 1.
The show actually has a plot now! It still isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty massive step in the right direction. To find out if the improvements will continue, and to see if Danny ever actually makes any use out of his super powers, be sure to stick with us. Recaps will post at 8:00 am every day for the next two weeks. We will also have a special edition of the podcast at the end of the run of recaps. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all our ongoing Iron Fist coverage.