Sunday, March 19, 2017

Every Lame Conceit Comes Out In Iron Fist When "Immortal Emerges From Cave"

The Good: Madame Gao & Claire Temple's characters/actor's performances
The Bad: Terribly boring plot, Stiff acting, Unremarkable character development, Terrible dialog
The Basics: Iron Fist confronts the champions of Madame Gao in "Immortal Emerges From Cave!"

The unfortunate aspect of super hero works is that they tend to follow a very clear pattern. Most super heroes - be they fantastical or street-level heroes - end up fighting, getting tested and challenged and trying to save innocent (or not so innocent) lives. By the time Iron Fist gets to "Immortal Emerges From Cave," it has become clear that the show is committed to the formula, as opposed to challenging it. It was about this time in the first season, as the Iron Fist went through a crucible of fights, that I came to believe that I would be fine with a Squirrel Girl television series . . . so long as it did not degenerate into the same, banal, over-choreographed, fight scene as other Marvel works. Iron Fist is not that show, though.

"Immortal Emerges From Cave" picks up with Madame Gao calling forth her champions after the events of "Under Leaf Pluck Lotus" (Season 1 reviewed here!) and it is basically a prolonged fight sequence broken up by a hospital sequence. It is an episode fans have seen in Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage before now. Unfortunately, "Immortal Emerges From Cave" is unrelenting in its brutality without adding anything truly significant to Iron Fist or the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Madame Gao calls forth four champions to take on the Iron Fist. Joy hires a crisis management team to deal with the situation caused by Danny Rand telling a litigant he will help her. Joy is frustrated because she recognizes Ward is a bit strung out, but she gets Ward to promise her that he and Danny will be at the meeting. Danny, when Ward confronts him, is reluctant because he has figured out that Gao has the chemist's son somewhere in custody in, he suspects, one of the Rand warehouses. Investigating the warehouse system, Rand and Ward find the severed head of the guard that Danny defeated in order to get Radovan away from the Hand. Rand is challenged by The Hand with a message from Gao with the severed head and Danny agrees to the impending fight because if he defeats Gao's champions, he will get the heroin chemist's daughter back.

Over Claire and Colleen's protests, Danny enters Gao's crucible. While Rand fights for Sabina's life and his own, Claire Temple works to save the life of Radovan. As Radovan's health fails and Ward has increasing hallucinations based on the trauma of seeing the severed head and his withdrawal, Temple and Wing must work to save Radovan's life and Joy and Ward struggle to save Rand Enterprises.

"Immortal Emerges From Cave" is a plot-heavy, painfully simple hour of television. In addition to the obvious carnage of Iron Fist fighting Gao's champions, "Immortal Emerges From Cave" features Ward so strung out on drugs that he willingly destroys his hand in the attempt to get painkillers and the gore of Radovan bleeding to death. "Immortal Emerges From Cave" is thoroughly unpleasant for the full duration of the episode.

Early in "Immortal Emerges From Cave" the episode mortgages almost all of its potential for being reasonable or even remotely original. Ward calls a number of shots, badly, and he goes largely unchallenged. Ward Meachum lies to Joy - a lie that is made all the worse by what is revealed in later episodes and by the obvious transparency of his lies - and Joy does not call him on it. Ward claims he is only high because he has some back pain . . . before pulling out several bottles of pills. Ward is so obviously lying and the lack of push back from Joy undermines her character.

On a similar front, Claire Temple quickly realizes that she has had more direct experience with fighting The Hand than Danny Rand has. She is incredulous, but when Rand says he cannot go to the police, Temple and Wing fold like a cheap card table. And here's the thing . . . "Immortal Emerges From Cave" is the most organic story point in Iron Fist for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to make a reasonable crossover. Claire Temple knows Daredevil and that he has a legitimate fight with The Hand and the ability to fight The Hand. Temple objects to the idea of Danny just going into a fight with Gao's champions and suggesting he not go alone into the fight - or contacting Daredevil on her own to send Matt Murdock into the battle with or for him would have been the best possible way for Matt Murdock and Danny Rand to meet.

Instead, viewers get a dumb, bloody episode that includes Rand beating the piss out of Gao's champions and Gao putting a big ass knife to Sabina's throat. "Immortal Emerges From Cave" is not entertaining, it is not character-building and it is not good television.

For other works with Suzanne H. Smart, please check out my reviews of:
Daredevil - Season 2
Orange Is The New Black - Season 3
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season 1

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Iron Fist - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!


For other television season and episode reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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