IRON FIST [Season 2 Review]: Into The Bad Man.
I’ll begin with the most difficult category and one of the most difficult I’ve ever had to deal with in a review. Unlike the first season, every character had exceptional moments of both strength and weakness, offering a complexity to every character that was mostly absent beforehand. Danny Rand (Finn Jones) has greatly improved and his interactions with Ward (Tom Pelphrey) come off as genuine, making both characters infinitely more likeable. Davos (Sacha Dhawan), Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) were particularly strong characters and choosing between those three is nearly impossible.
Colleen’s story arc in this season is arguably the best character arc in any Marvel Netflix show. Her entire journey makes sense and culminates in one of the greatest moments we’ve seen thus far. Davos is absolutely terrifying as a villain and the mere idea of his presence creates incredible tension, but flashbacks to his relationship with his mother make the choices he makes understandable while remaining unforgivable.
My favorite character, though — and for the second season in a row — was Joy. I explained in my review last season that, as a character, she lived in a grey area between good and evil and this season she does that even more masterfully. Her actions and alliance with Davos unquestionably make her a villain, yet when he crosses a line beyond her moral boundary she has the courage to face him and attempt to bring him down despite being mostly defenseless. The way she’s able to manipulate situations to her advantage when everything appears to be going against her is truly impressive. As much as I liked every other character, she’s an excellent example of one of my favorite types of characters: an intelligent, courageous, morally flexible, and conflicted person who’s able to manipulate both heroes and villains despite being completely outmatched in power. As much as I liked Defenders, Joy is a much better version of Sigourney Weaver’s character from that show.
This is an even more difficult category than the last. There wasn’t much filler in this season, as every subplot developed characters so they could influence the main plot. For that reason, there aren’t any characters that really feel superfluous or wasted. The only character who gave me any sort of negative feeling was the leader of the hatchet men, who’s unearned bravado was annoying throughout. Even he has a good character moment when he stands up to Davos towards the end, but he was still the least likeable character that had a presence on the show. It feels quite a bit like a cop out of an answer because he’s not one of the main characters in the show, but the character work this season was incredibly strong for every one of those characters.
Once again, this is an incredibly difficult choice to make and is also impossible to do without getting into spoilers so you’ve been warned. As an honorable mention, Ward’s speech at his NA meeting where he ends by admitting that he’s spent so much of his life defined by others that he doesn’t know who he is is one of the best character moments and a great scene. The Davos/Joy and Colleen/Danny double dinner date was another great scene because of how hilariously awkward it was until Colleen forced everyone to face their problems with each other.
As great as those character scenes were, however, the best scenes were either fights or scenes that expanded on the Iron Fist mythos. The fight between Davos and Colleen at the very end was fantastic, but the honor of best scene is a tie between two scenes: The first is the cage fight between Danny and Colleen where Danny has to push himself to be ready to fight Davos that ends with Danny coming to realization that he shouldn’t be the Iron Fist and passing that honor along to Colleen. The fight itself is my favorite fight of the season while the ending is a complete gamechanger for the Marvel Netflix Universe. The second scene is the final scene of the movie that shows Colleen channeling the power of the Iron Fist through her Katana and Danny using Chi-powered guns that he apparently stole from Orson Randall, effectively opening up the world of Iron Fist to explore the mythology set up in the comics.
WORST SCENE & EASTER EGGS
Just like with Worst Character, this answer is a bit of a copout. The worst scenes are all the flashback sequences to Danny and Davos’ childhood that don’t involve Davos’ parents. Their interactions as children seem like attempts to drive home the point that these were brothers growing up, but the scenes aren’t as effective as their conversations as adults. The acting in the scenes between Finn Jones and Sacha Dhawan are so well acted that they believably convey two brothers who’ve reached a point of no return. The reason I feel this is a bit of a cop out is that the scenes aren’t bad and do add to the heartbreaking nature of their relationship, but they’re just the least effective aspect.
One of the best things about this season is that many of the easter eggs are actually incorporated into the story. The big ones include Orson Randall’s guns, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing talking about the name Knightwing (a reference to Knightwing Investigations), and the story that Colleen’s mother told her about the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay which Danny later confirms is Wu Ao-Shi, the last woman to defeat Shou Lao and take up the mantle of the Iron Fist. Those don’t just serve as Easter Eggs, they seem to indicate the future direction of this show.
The fact that I had so many honorable mentions for best character and best scene and had to struggle in order to even come up with copout answers to the worst should be the first indication of how much I loved this season. The cautious optimism I had going in was rewarded with a near perfect Iron Fist show that even makes Season 1 slightly better by expanding on the good parts and dealing with the consequences of everything that happened and leaves me beyond excited for the future. I simply can’t wait for Season 3, which is a complete turnaround for how I felt at the end of Season 1 and Defenders. The action was exciting, the story was compelling, the character work was captivating, and — overall — the show was damn good fun.
This truly was as compelling as an Iron Fist story could be while being set in New York, which is why I’m so excited that they’re delving further into the mythology of the Iron Fist going forward and potentially introducing not just other Iron Fists, but other Immortal Weapons. As a matter of fact, if Season 3 brings in Fat Kobra as a recurring character it might get an automatic 5 bibles. With as good as Luke Cage Season 2 was and as much as I liked Jessica Jones Season 2, though in general it was a bit polarizing, the second phase of the Marvel Netflix shows is on a hell of a roll right now. 4.5/5 Iron Fists.