1.9: “The Mistress of All Agonies”
I was pleasantly surprised when David Wenham’s face emerged from the murky depths of that Central Park pond aka the Meachums’ favorite mass gave. I genuinely thought he went the way of Cottonmouth. Harold crawls to shore like a newborn child and pulls the still-lodged knife from his stomach where Ward left it. He’s clearly dazed, his mind not caught up with his body, and he goes wondering through New York. We already knew that the Hand traded their death cure for Harold’s freedom and control of Rand Enterprises and we previously saw the undead Hand leader Nobu Yoshioka return after being immolated and only seemed permanently put down when he was decapitated by Stick, Daredevil’s mentor and leader of the Chaste, another sworn enemy of the Hand. The curtain is very slowly being peeled back on how the Hand and its tricks work. But at the core, it’s just great to have Wenham back, who brings such an evil but entertaining energy to the show.
The show rather egregiously cuts to Danny, Colleen, and Claire already back in New York post-China adventure, with Gao restrained, having a conversation you think they would have had back in China, or at least on the plane: what to do with Gao? Did they just sit in silence on the plane or was there small talk? We know Gao is powerful not only in status but in physical power, being ageless and super-strong. She wants to be there. Their quandary, whether to kill Gao or turn her over to authorities, remains unresolved when Danny goes to visit Joy.
Gao is left out in the open so of course she started needling her captors, beginning with Claire. While it’s a stupid character decision, it allows the show to show off one of its best decisions, namely the enlarged role for Wai Ching Ho’s understated villain. Danny is obsessed with getting the truth about his parents’ deaths and Claire mollifies him by sending him on a mission for truth serum, though what effect such a human drug would have on an otherworldly being is nebulous. Under the influence, Gao admits she manipulated his father through his mother about a Hand-Rand alliance (she must have liked that it rhymed) but was rebuffed, causing her to ask Harold instead. Colleen falls ill, revealing that she was poisoned by the Hand back in China. She tells Danny to call her sensei Bakuto. He arrives in force, helping them take out Hand agents looking for Gao. The inexplicably powerful and connected Bakuto not only knows who Danny is, but guides him to use the Iron Fist to heal her.The technique saves Colleen and causes Danny to pass out. They leaves Claire and take the two into a van, watched by a mysterious figure who loves him some throwing stars. Allow the show to introduce Davos aka Steel Serpent.
Harold slowly regains his memories and gets his assistant Kyle to pick up. He’s shockingly concilatory to Ward, who is absolutely floored that the father he murdered is alive again, and hugging him no less. Befitting his personality, Harold is actually pleased because now he knows he is effectively immortal. He thinks it will let him have a fresh start with his family. Ward wants nothing to do with any of that weirdness and goes to visit the Hatchet Men about how to end his father permanently. Not only does he not get an answer (although we know it, thanks to Stick), but he’s told that Harold will deteriorate and destroy those he loves in an insane immortal state.
To hammer the point home, the show gives us what is perhaps the most unpleasant and disturbing on-screen murder in the Marvel/Netflix shows. Harold, in his post-death afterglow, treats his naive doormat of an assistant Kyle to ice cream after the latter admitted he would eat it day and night if he could. When Kyle asks for vanilla instead of any of the flavors, Harold snaps and begins beating his head in with an ice cream scoop. It takes a minute for him to finish the job as the kid crawls away. Suffice to say, the scene got to me.
Harold arranges for his son to be arrested for drug possession and placed in the same mental institution he put Danny in back in episode 2. With Ward removed and Joy curious about the building he showed her, Harold decides to reunite with her in defiance of the Hand.