The first season of Iron First was decent, but the action lagged at times and the character was not as likeable as others in the Netflix cadre of Marvel shows. While the character of Danny Rand (Finn Jones) was not always easy to empathize with, what redeemed the show was Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) and the arc of the secondary characters. This meant I was still looking forward to the second season and I was happy for the wait. There was far more action, less whining and far more focus on the Asian culture within Chinatown, a far more authentic look with Colleen as integral as Danny’s character to the storyline and much more development of the entire cast.
As the season begins, we see Danny tackling the gang activity as Iron Fist, using his mystical powers to take up Daredevil’s mantle after the events of The Defenders. He’s living with Colleen who has closed her school and is working for the local community center. Danny has remained close to Ward Meecham (Tom Pelphrey) who has his own demons to fight and the pair are surprised to be summoned by Joy (Jessica Stroup), Ward’s sister, who asks to be bought out of the company.
Danny soon learns that Joy has partnered with Davos (Sacha Dhawan), his foster brother from K’un-Lun. While Ward tries to make amends to Joy, who is unwilling to listen, Danny attempts to determine what their plans are.
Danny meets a strange woman, Mary (Alice Eve), who has been watching him.
Meanwhile, things worsen between the gangs in Chinatown. While Danny and Colleen try to build a ceasefire, things go from bad to worse. With the help of Misty Knight, they soon learn that Davos’ actions are leading to the worsening situation. If Danny, Colleen and their friends can’t find a way to stop Davos, all of Chinatown will be destroyed along with Danny.
As I mentioned, the plot is filled with far more action. Right from the beginning, the scenes pull you back into Danny and Colleen’s lives. You get to see the real consequences of the previous season and The Defenders. Even better, the writers have tracked all the details, including Danny’s appearances on Luke Cage along with his and Colleen’s interactions with Misty Knight. The story is far more intimate, dealing with Danny’s relationships with Colleen, Ward, Joy, and Davos. While there are occasional moments when his character is introspective, for the most part, the action is a large part of how the relationships are detailed and explored as Danny tries to deal with Chinatown and the people in his life at the same time.
At the same time, the writers don’t lose track of the secondary characters. Colleen is far better developed, gaining her own story arc within the larger whole of Iron Fist. Part of her time revolves around finding a box that leads her to finding out more about her family along with viewers getting to learn more of her background. She also gets to shine big and bright, almost brighter than Danny Rand. If I say more, I’ll spoil her spotlight moments from those who have yet to see the second season but I, for one, am pleased because it returns the focus of the season to the Asian culture and brings them a hero to root for without losing Danny’s impetus as a character.
Beyond Colleen, Ward and Joy as well as Davos each have their arc, developing side by side with the main characters, each integral to the overall story. Ward is still struggling with his addiction and his actions toward Joy, how he can make amends and ultimately find a way to embrace who he is as well as stop hating himself for his past. Joy is working with Davos but her motives are far from dark, as she is trying to explore who she is away from her family and must decide if her path with Davos is the right choice. Davos has embraced his path, to find a way to bring what he feels is morality to New York City, wrong or right. We also get to see more of his past with Danny and what drives Davos to compete with Danny, despite their past closeness. Even the newest character, Mary, an ex-soldier hired to help Joy and Davos, has clear motivations and an interesting background.
One of the most intriguing elements is the introduction of the Asian culture of New York City, dubbed Chinatown. As a non-Asian, I can’t speak for the authenticity but what I did enjoy was the differing views of the people. Colleen sees them as friends and people she wants to help better their lives. Danny views it as a world full of gangs. Misty Knight as a police officer sees the violence and wants to arrest criminals while Danny and Colleen just want to keep a ceasefire between the two groups, their goal about preventing the escalation from spilling out into the streets and harming the hardworking, innocent citizens not involved the criminal activity. We see a variety of occupations and people, Danny’s boss who runs a moving company, the owner of a restaurant, the wife of the crime boss who helps the community center, presenting the ordinary viewer with a hopefully a more believable view of the culture. Nothing is a black and white presentation and feels much better balanced than the previous season.
As far as the actors, they are genuine in their roles. Jessica Henwick (Colleen), heartwarming as she searches for a new purpose. Finn Jones believable as Danny struggling with who he is away from K’un-Lun and whether he even deserves to be the Iron Fist when he only wanted it for the power. Tom Pelphrey is charismatic and heart wrenching as Ward struggling with his addictions and his loss of Joy. Jessica Stroup brings honesty, coldness and conflict to Joy Meechum. Sacha Dhawan is stellar as Davos, his acting enhancing the writing and showing us layers to the character. Alice Eve is adept as she switches emotions from scene to scene, leaving you to wonder what more is hidden in the depths of her past. Not one of the performances missed their mark for me.
There were a few points that dragged, tiny sections as we get caught up with each of the characters and try to puzzle out the secrets. I also would have liked a bit more development of the secondary characters that Colleen works with and who are part of the Asian culture. But overall, the writing and the acting excelled. The action was balanced well with the plot and the depth of diversity from the main characters as well as secondary cast was heartening and enjoyable. I enjoyed the depth of the Asian culture, in particular showing us a more balanced presentation. The writers juggled multiple character arcs with ease and I loved that Colleen’s character gets equal time with Danny’s, coming into her own and being such a strong, female lead. If you have been avoiding this season, I highly recommend you catch it now. It has become complex, diverse, fun and best of all, full of characters that engage a diverse audience. It also ended on a high note, whetting my appetite for season 3!
Rating: 4 Dragons out of 5.