1.8: “The Blessing of Many Fractures”
Danny discovers the scene of Harold’s murder and Ward goes all-in on his cover-up blame game by calling Danny the “cancer” responsible. The episode talks a little about murder and when or if ever it is justified. Ward begins suffering hallucinations amid the aftermath of killing Harold and Colleen and Claire debate whether it’s right to kill the evil Hand lander Madame Gao, with Danny caught in the middle.
Danny, Colleen, and Claire discuss their next move against the Hand. Danny proposes flying to Anzhou to attack Gao at her home base. He gets a little petulant and shows his immaturity when the two women insist on accompanying him but they point out that the last time Danny went up against the Hand in episode 6, he was out-gambited. The heroic trio fly on a private Rand jet to Anzhou to investigate whether Gao is behind the plane crash that killed Danny’s parents and stranded him in K’un L’un. The development can be viewed as dramatically ironic or just contrived, but I personally feel, between the other Defenders shows and Harold’s alliance with them, the groundwork has been laid for this sort of thing. Although you got to wonder if they knew the plane would crash over or near K’un L’un. Hell of a coincidence otherwise.
Speaking of that plane crash, the show doesn’t skirt the traumatic side-effects such a childhood event would have, though only in the briefest way. Although we don’t see how he arrives in New York in episode 1 and no mention is made prior to the show putting the characters in the cabin of the Rand jet, Danny suffers a panic attack when turbulence strikes, causing more flashbacks of the crash.
The trio stake out Gao’s hideout. As we learned in Daredevil season 1, Gao runs her Hand sect with an iron fist (pun intended), keeping her servants and mules blind. Danny fights Zhou Cheng, a direct homage to the “drunken master” character popularized by Jackie Chan. He’s a one-scene wonder played by Lewis Tan, who notably lobbied Marvel for the lead role before Scott Buck was hired as showrunner and subsequently cast Finn Jones. They fight their way to Gao again (Colleen gets a bitchin’ katana fight with a female Hand agent) and Danny remembers how his plane crashed: the pilots were killed using the Hand’s signature poison, that killed his parents and stranded him in K’un L’un. After becoming the Iron Fist, the three escape with Gao as their prisoner.
Back in New York, Ward and Joy are presented with their “severance packages” by the Rand Board’s head asshole Lawrence Wilkins. For added irony, it’s the same buyout deal they tried to get Danny to take in the first four episodes. The show asks us to sympathize with them but all I can think “Start a new company with your $2o0 million dollars, you fucking ingrates.” The two are split on what to do. Recent patricide-enthusiast Ward wants anything to be free of his father’s toxic legacy but Joy, who still idolizes Harold and the life she’s built, refuses to simply walk away. Ward, ever the weasel, tries to undermine his sister by negotiating his own settlement for “only” $30 million but Lawrence tells him Joy already undermined him by rejecting the offer. Ward, you just can’t catch a break, buddy.
We get references to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage but the show keeps both references frustratingly vague. For example, Danny doesn’t inquire about the multiple instances Claire fought the Hand with Daredevil, a potential ally, and Claire is unusually reticent to share about the long-distance relationship that has been going on post-Luke Cage season 1. Joy meanwhile reveals she hired a private investigator (who is good when she’s “sober”) to get dirt on the other Board members in anticipation of such an attempted coup. She tries to get through to him with admiration but he can’t even show her their late father’s secret penthouse without hallucinating blood and freaking out.