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Reason Netflix released the whole season the same day.


In S01.E08, Iron Fist's Real Action Is Taking Place In New York, With Ward

Yes, even given the drunken high jinks in China.

Before anything else, I need to give a shout out to the person on the Iron Fist production team who came up with the idea a few episodes back of having Danny show up for his first day of work at Rand in a suit and white sneakers.


Nothing symbolizes the awkward transition into early adulthood like that look. During the many many years I spent in grad school, I always looked forward to that day in August when brand-new law students tramped by the history department on the way to first-year orientation because, inevitably, more than a few of them were dressed exactly like that. It's as if they paid just enough attention to adults during their teenage years to get the big picture, but hadn't yet learned that details matter. Like dress shoes. Or replacing that raggedy-ass North Face backpack with something made of leather that has handles.

Because the larger message has everything to do with how difficult it is to transition from the moral simplicity and naiveté of youth to being a grownup and learning that adulthood occasionally requires hard choices between two equally crappy options. And, I know, we are not breaking new ground here. Is it possible that show creator Scott Buck managed only recently to attend a wedding where someone read the "When I was a child, I spoke like a child" Bible verse and thought, "Whoa, that's some heavy shit. That's what my new show is going to be about"?

If so, it was a bad decision and the root of everything boring about this program. I'm never been all that big into superheroes, mostly because they are great at fighting but often overbearing the rest of the time, particularly when they're talking. How many times do we have to hear them justify their actions by saying "it's the right thing to do" or listen to them harass other people about "needing to believe in something bigger than yourself"? The success of the Netflix Marvel Universe up to this point derives from avoiding such moral simplicity. Still, despite the complexity of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, I would rank my enjoyment of these series by the effectiveness of the villains, not the superheroes. At the end of the day, the good guys almost always do the right thing for the most obvious and boring reasons. Now add to that a thirty-year old man-child who sees the world with the arrogance and moral righteousness of a self-centered teenager and sneers with contempt at anyone who doesn't see the world exactly as he does, and you've got a superhero show that is either obnoxiously boring or boringly obnoxious.

But -- and I say this cautiously -- things seem to be picking up as we get into the back end of the season. Yes, I know, Danny Rand continues to be a massive disappointment when he is not fighting. And I'm sure I'm not the only person who wants to punch Harold Meacham in the mouth every time he opens it. Now, however, we've got more Claire Temple! Yea! It also looks like Colleen Wing has some ulterior motives in getting close to the Iron Fist. And While Madame Gao is no Wilson Fisk or Kilgrave, she has potential.


However, for my money, Ward Meacham has emerged as the most interesting character over the past several episodes. If the death of Danny's parents left Danny incapable of successfully navigating adulthood, then Harold's refusal to step aside has had an equally debilitating effect on Ward. Following his, shall we say, extreme actions in the last episode, he is now tossing aside his evil corporate overlord identity with all the confusion, guilt, and violence of someone who has been tortured emotionally since childhood by his father, and driven to addiction by a job he has come to hate and a secret he no longer wants to keep.

What makes my appreciation of Ward even more interesting is how much, and how instantly, I hated him in the first episode. It took about five seconds into his first scene for me to loathe this guy. But wonder now if that was a conscious decision on the part of Scott Buck or Tom Pelphrey. Because even as the Daughter of the Dragon and Iron Fist kick ass over in China...


...seriously, both fight scenes are great, particularly the homage to Jackie Chan's Drunken Master films -- I kept wanting to get back to New York and find out if Ward's actions from the last episode would finally result in his being able to free himself of Rand and his father for good.

And I couldn't help but recognizing my complete turnaround on this guy as he sat in Laurence's office, pleading with him for money after learning Joy had rejected their severance package.


Even after turning into a massive tool when he reneged on his promise to tell Joy everything, Ward still remains a character worth my time because he's about the only character in this show who has developed any real depth or complexity. In the end, he may end up being the same jackass as he was when he started, but at least now he's an interesting jackass, and that's a lot more than I can say for Danny Rand.

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