Wednesday, September 19, 2018

An Old Nerd Wonders How That Iron Fist Season 2 Thing Happened

The real stars of Season 2
On a scale of one to ten, when the first season of Iron Fist dropped on Netflix, I’d say my interest in watching the show was about a 7.

On a scale of one to ten, when I finished watching the first season of Iron Fist, my interest in watching the second season was about a 0. The first season is notoriously bad. Never Work In This Town Again bad. Except the guy who ran it had another gig running Inhumans, which was No, Really, Never Work In This Town Again bad.

After The Defenders, that 0 turned into maybe a 2? One and a half? Iron Fist in The Defenders was a complete dumbass but at least some of the other characters realized it.

When Danny Rand guested for a single episode of Luke Cage, my interest in Season 2 jumped to a 5. And I gave it a try.

After Season 2, my interest in Season 3 is a goddamned nine and a half, measured from the top, and that’s some fucking alchemy right there.

How did they do it? Well, first and foremost, they gave Danny Rand an actual arc that turned him from a mildly annoying idiot (the evolution from an irredeemably annoying idiot happened off-screen between seasons, it seems) into a real, self-aware person, comfortable in his skin and aware of his flaws.

Second, they went 10 episodes instead of 13, leading to a tighter, faster-moving story without unnecessary subplots.

Third, they gave like half the screen time to Colleen Wing and MIsty Knight, both of whom are better characters and better actors than Iron Fist. Not to mention better fighters with more convincing stunt doubles.

Fourth, they gave solid narrative arcs to the four medium-duty second tier characters - ally Ward Meachum, ally/antagonists Joy and “Typhoid” Mary Walker, and antagonist Davos. All fairly compelling and not too dumb.

And most importantly, they upended the status quo of the show(s, since Misty is part of it) in a huge way at the end, both with how the main story ended and the finale’s tag scene, a welcome lift from Agents of SHIELD season finales where you get a glimpse of what’s going on next season but no idea how or why and it’s SUPER FUCKING COOL.

And that, really, is the alchemy of Iron Fist Season 2. It took something dorky and stupid and obnoxious and, by the end, filled it with SUPER COOL. That shouldn’t have been possible. So I’ll forgive the season its various flaws thanks to the degree of difficulty of the routine it pulled off.

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