1.10: “Black Tiger Steals Heart”
Let’s get this out front: this episode’s big twist is no Red Wedding Like Sacha Dhawan’s Davos, Ramon Rodriguez’s Bakuto was an unannounced series regular prior to the series premiere last Friday. Though there were rumors of the former, the latter was completely unexpected, showed up a couple episodes ago to establish himself as mysteriously-knowledgeable presence and then shows up here to do so even more before the twist. It left me more baffled than curious during Bakuto’s monologues. Dhawan on the other hand is welcome addition, a character with a clear motive and sense of self, plus a sorely-needed connection to Danny’s time in K’un L’un. Davos is basically Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo from Doctor Strange, a comic book villain revamped as character’s ally to add depth to their inevitable conflict. In the tradition of the Marvel/Netflix shows, he’s the Diamondback.
Danny recovers at Bakuto’s monastery (school? community center? It’s never quite clear), which Colleen reveals was where she grew up. Again like Strange, there’s a distinct Kamar-Taj edge here. Most of the episode is taken up by the aforementioned Bakuto monologues during which he info dumps about the Iron Fist to the present Iron Fist. It’s all incongruous, even before the reveal, and makes Danny look like an idiot who either took for granted this amazing power he was given or was dull enough to not learn more about it before leaving K’un L’un defenseless. The sudden appearance of this convenient character is hilarious in real terms and standard in comic book ones. Of course he’s not only Colleen’s mentor/father figure but of course he also knows all about the Iron Fist, even more than Danny himself who earned the title. Which brings us to the truth: Bakuto is a Hand leader and Colleen is a member.
I don’t begrudge the reveal, which both explains Bakuto’s knowledge and adds dramatic tension to Danny and Colleen’s relationship, with Davos almost forming a love triangle. Bakuto is also instantly more interesting when his rhetoric is married to a clear motive. It makes it clear the Hand isn’t a big happy family but undergoing a schism after Nobu’s death, with Gao’s fear-based heroin operation running in tandem and occasional conflict with Bakuto’s better angels-based recruitment drive. Tellingly, he takes his philosophy straight from the similarly-abusive Harold: hire them young at twice their worth and get their everlasting loyalty. Look how that worked out for poor Kyle.
As Joy reacquaints herself with her father, she gets her first inklings all is not right with Harold, who is determined to take back control of Rand from the Hand. Once more, these corporate shenanigans pale in comparison to the drama elsewhere. Bakuto takes over as Gao’s captor, deposing her as the New York Hand leader and Iron Fist antagonist. Bakuto prevents Danny from leaving, leading to a fight. Davos intervenes to save Danny and the two fight their way through Bakuto’s students, who are all brainwashed high-schoolers and college students as far as I know. That probably explains how they mow through so many. Conflicted Colleen even lends a hand. Together, the three escape the Hand compound.
Alright, guys, three more episodes to go in Iron Fist‘s first season. What are your thoughts on episodes eight through ten? Sound off in the comments!