Marvel's Iron Fist episode 4 viewing notes: Eight Diagram Dragon Palm


These viewing notes contain spoilers.

Iron Fist, the fourth and final member of the Defenders, has finally made his debut. As with previous Netflix series, we’ll be reviewing an episode a day highlighting the characters, reference points and easter eggs we spotted. Feel free to read along as you watch too, but please don’t spoil future episodes for anyone in the comments!

Episode 4 is definitely a leap up in terms of quality for Iron Fist, in that it at least resembles the show it probably should’ve been from the start. Brought into Rand-Meachum and aware of Harold’s fight against the Hand, Danny attempts to find his place in the world, as Joy and Ward attempt to manipulate him. Meanwhile, Colleen is still doing illegal fights to raise money to keep her dojo open, though she also crosses paths with Danny again.

I didn’t have high hopes for this episode given that the resolution to Danny being pushed out of a window was him hanging off a sound stage that wouldn’t put Batman ’66 to shame, but it quickly improved. Although the way everyone’s motivation flipped around so quickly makes me wonder if the writers are even reading each other’s scripts. I spent the whole initial scene with Harold wondering whether it was a dream sequence or not because it seemed to fit so little with any depiction of Harold or Ward that we’d previous seen.

But afterwards, I liked what happened. Buddhist in the Boardroom is a show I would watch an entire series of, Colleen’s fights are genuinely exciting (probably because she isn’t both the world’s greatest kung fu master and the title lead, which work in Danny’s favour jeopardy-wise) and the stuff with the Triad/Hand is exactly what I’m here for in MCU terms. There was even some interesting stylistic direction in the now-obligatory corridor fight scene.

I also liked Danny calling Hogarth “J-Money”, but mostly because it made me imagine a series where Danny Rand returned to civilisation unaware that nu-metal was no longer the dominant aesthetic movement of popular culture. I’m disappointed he’s not spending this entire series in a Korn hoodie.

While I mention music… I’m finding the soundtrack choices odd. It feels like Netflix’s notorious content-generation algorithm at work. People like the synth soundtracks of shows like Mr Robot and Stranger Things… so here’s something like that. Which makes sense, except that it ignores how those shows have a valid aesthetic reason for that kind of soundtrack. When Danny disappeared he’d probably have owned a PS2.

Anyway, reference-wise, there’s a bunch here…

After his press conference, Danny says “As Yu-Ti, the August Personage in Jade, says, ‘Kindness is the eternal law.’” He’s talking about Master Yu-Ti, aka the Dragon Lord, the ruler of the mystical city of K’un L’un. As ever I’m unsure how much to say without accidentally spoiling stuff about Danny’s origin, but put it this way: he first appeared in Marvel Premiere #15 (1974) and he’s quite important to Danny.

The stickers under Danny’s father’s desk are Jack Kirby monsters, from the days when Marvel was known as Atlas.

Colleen’s white tracksuit during her fight club scenes looks like a clear reference to her comics outfit, which is usually an all-white jumpsuit, but has been through various modernisations.

The reporter for the Bulletin mentions that the editor shouldn’t give the front page to Karen. That’d be Karen Page, who’s apparently doing quite well for herself since becoming a reporter for the paper in Daredevil season two.

And, finally, we get to see the Iron Fist symbol on Danny’s chest which we already knew was there because of the promo material. Meanwhile, the package Danny receives is one of the heroin wraps from Daredevil season one which I mentioned last episode. As I said before, that’s the Steel Serpent logo. But I expect we’re going to find out a lot more about that soon…

Read James’ viewing notes on the previous episode, Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch, here.



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