Danny wakes up from Joy’s drugged tea strapped to a bed in Birch Psychiatric Hospital. There’s a man dressed like a doctor sitting next to his bed who speaks to him in a kindly voice, telling him where he is. Danny asks to have the straps and cuffs removed, because he’s not dangerous, but the “doctor” refuses, on the grounds that a guy down the hall said the same thing, just before he bit another doctor’s nose off. We’re in for a wild ride this episode, kids!
The doctor tries to reassure Danny that, even though it’s disturbing to wake up in a place like this, the staff is there to help. He knows just the thing. Danny needs to kill himself. It’s the only solution for any of us. He’s tried four times, but they keep saving him. He grabs a fork and holds it to Danny’s jugular vein. He says, “Give me the go ahead, and it’s done.” Existentially, he’s correct. Practically, it’s might be too radical a solution to Danny’s problem.
Nurses and orderlies run in just as the doctor/Simon is looking to see if Danny is nodding yes. Simon says he was just saying hello to the new guy. He’s not a doctor, he’s a long term patient. The orderlies tell Danny that they’re going to clean him up, as soon as he takes his
prison in a pill medication.
Joy and Ward discuss the property purchase that Harold charged Ward with. Joy brings up Danny. She feels bad about drugging him, and still wonders if it could be the real Danny. Ward makes it sound farfetched for Danny to have survived. I’m not sure why they’re so sure, when there were never any bodies. It sounds like they purposely didn’t search too hard.
Danny has continuous nightmares and flashbacks to the plane crash. He wakes from reliving it, again, to find a doctor sitting next to his bed watching him sleep, again. Geez, this hospital is creepy. Danny tells the doctor that he was meditating, not sleeping. He’s trying to focus his chi, but the drugs keep him too muddled to focus. That’s the point of the drugs, of course.
The doctor says that Danny has to stay there for 72 hours, or go to jail. He might as well make the most of it. Danny asks to be unstrapped. The doctor removes the chest strap, but not the cuffs on his hands and feet.
They begin the intake questions. Danny gives his name, which the doctor recognizes. Danny tells the story of the aftermath of the plane crash in the Himalayas. His father and the pilots were dead. His mother was gone. He decided to try to survive. Finn Jones’ body language in this part is compelling. He’s so hunched, tight, and still, but with his head up, like he’s still strapped into his plane seat and holding on for dear life, hoping for a different outcome this time. The doctor leans forward, completely involved in the story, until Danny mentions that it was Buddhist warrior-monks from the Order of the Crane Mother who found him. Then the doctor pulls out a passport for “John Anderson” and wants to know the truth. The sequence is incredibly annoying, because we’re talking about a culture on the other side of the world, but the doctor reacts as if Danny should be telling a story that takes place in NYC. For that matter, culturally, you can find almost anything you want in NYC. The doctor is being Eurocentric.
Colleen walks through the neighborhood streets. People start following her who may wish her harm. She’s eventually jumped by four people, but she’s able to fight them off. They turn out to be her students, and this was a training exercise, which the students failed.
Danny gets a tour of the psych ward from Simon, who shares important survival information. The hospital is full of the criminally insane. Both people who are truly violent, and those whom the hospital can probably scam for Medicaid payments. Everyone is kept heavily drugged, and no one gets out. It’s the Hotel California for the homeless and mentally ill. The most violent patient antagonizes Danny, who fights back. Danny’s blamed, and heavily medicated again.
Simon helps Danny phone Colleen to ask for help, but she refuses.
Harold has cameras throughout the hospital. The story about the monks puzzles him, since there are no monasteries near the plane’s last known coordinates. You’d think if the plane went down near its last known coordinates that they would’ve been able to find it, wouldn’t you? Yeah, not much of a search.
Ward doesn’t care. He wants to nip the problem in the bud by surgically or chemically lobotimizing Danny. Harold refuses. He wants a more considered approach, after they’re done information gathering. Harold does want Ward to do talk to Colleen, to find out why Danny called her.
The doctor appears again the next morning while Danny’s trying to meditate. Danny says the drugs make him feel like he’s under water. The doctor replies that he’s on a high dose, because he’s uncooperative. No therapeutic value, just drugged into submission, in other words. A prison cell in a pill.
Danny admits that he lied about the passport, but not in the way that the doctor wants to hear. He tells the doctor that he bought a stolen passport in Morocco so that he could get back into the States. The doctor walks out on him again, as he does every time Danny doesn’t give the answer the doctor is looking for. As soon as the doctor is out the door, the orderly is in with the latest dose of medication.
Ward visits Colleen to question her about her contact with Danny. She doesn’t tell him much. He mainly wants to know if Danny hurt her at all. It’s a point of pride with her that Danny couldn’t. Ward wants Colleen to sign papers saying that Danny made her feel threatened and uncomfortable. In exchange, he’ll write her a big check. Colleen still doesn’t want to, but Ward insists she think about it. Pretty sure Ward is the one trying to make her feel uncomfortable and threatened, and he knows he doesn’t have to use his physical presence to do it.
Danny is called into the psychiatrist’s office this time. The doctor shows Danny an old commercial starring the Meachums and the Rand family. It makes Danny tear up, and remember the day the commercial was filmed in great detail. His family went to the circus after filming the commercial, as a bribe for Danny agreeing to do the shoot. This is not what the doctor expected. He thought this would be what got Danny to break down and admit he’s John Anderson. Danny shoves everything off of the doctor’s desk in anger. He’s sedated, again, and taken back to his room to be restrained in bed.
The doctor calls Joy. He asks her about her memories of the day they shot the commercial, to see if she’ll confirm the circus trip. She does and remembers it as a bribery trip for Danny. Danny wanted to be an acrobat and was always jumping around. Joy is suspicious about the doctor’s reason for asking such an unusual question.
Meanwhile, Harold has been watching Danny, and has questions. He decides to sneak over to the hospital himself to visit Danny. Harold tells his meek assistant, Kyle, about his own father, who whipped or beat him every time he failed to live up to expectations. Now Harold doesn’t apologize to anyone. He misses his father.
Harold has an orderly give Danny a hallucinogenic drug, then dims the lights in his room so that Danny thinks Harold is a dream. He asks if Danny remembers the song that Harold used to sing to annoy him. Danny does. It was Danny Boy. Harold hums it, because he’s an *ss and can’t resist. Danny says he thought Harold was dead. Harold says he thought Danny was dead, too. Now they are both members of the Not Dead Yet Club!
Harold asks about the monastery that took Danny in. The dead know a lot, but not everything, you see. Only the amount that a good surveillance system can tell them. Danny says that he was in K’un Lun, one of the seven capital cities of Heaven. Danny thinks that he probably shouldn’t have left, because he understood his place there. What was his place?
Danny: “I was a warrior. Only in the middle of a fight did I fully come alive. The harder someone hit me, the more everything came into focus.”
Harold: “What kind of warrior are you? What do you mean you’re a warrior?”
Danny: “I became one in a long line of Iron Fists. Living weapon, sworn enemy of The Hand. It is my duty to destroy The Hand.”
Harold: “And this is something you can do? You can destroy The Hand?”
Danny: “I am the only one who can do it. Please Harold, you have to get me out of here.”
Harold promises to take care of everything. He returns to his bomb shelter penthouse and tells Kyle to research the Iron Fist. There is a message written on the outside of the window pane: “Where did you go?” With a hand print underneath it. I think we have a sense of why Harold lives the way he does now.
Joy pulls out a box of old family photos that she keeps in her office. She sees one photo of her and Danny eating M&Ms, and turns to grab a bag from the case full that she has in her cabinet. I totally believe that she stays a size zero and keeps 1 lb bags of M&Ms next to her at all times. And eats them so quickly that they don’t go stale. Maybe season 2 will be about Joy’s eating disorder.
Danny receives the package of M&Ms from Joy. He understands the message, and starts sorting them.
Ward shows up at Colleen’s dojo again with a $50,000 check. He just wants everyone to be safe, including Danny. Tom Pelphrey is doing a great job making Ward more and more ghoulish every time he appears.
Colleen visits Danny at the hospital. She wants to hear his side of the story. He finally reveals that he does, in fact, understand that he probably owns more than half of the company and is thus a major financial threat to the Meachums. I had forgotten that Colleen didn’t know his name yet.
Colleen explains that the Meachums want to bribe her to help put Danny away for good. She asks if Danny’s a threat. He says that he’s not a threat to her, but he’s very dangerous to the Meachums. He’s always told the truth to her. Colleen won’t sign the papers, but she doesn’t want to be involved. Danny asks her to deliver the M&Ms back to Joy as one last favor. Colleen figures, what the h*ll, she’ll see what the top of Rand Tower looks like.
Colleen brings the M&Ms straight to Joy, who dumps them out on her desk. There are no brown M&Ms. She starts to cry, and says, “It is Danny.” He’s the Buddhist Van Halen. Colleen drops the unsigned papers on Joy’s desk and leaves.
Ward sees Colleen leaving, and checks on Joy. He doesn’t care about her tears, only the unsigned papers. Joy tells him about the brown M&Ms. When they were kids, she and Danny would eat M&Ms together, all but the brown ones. Ward dismisses the M&M test, because he does not believe in anything good in this world. Joy wants to get Danny out of the hospital immediately, but Ward insists that they leave Danny where he is. Joy asks Ward what he’s so afraid of, then tells him to be more like their father, and grow some balls. This was an excellent scene for Joy, who is a complicated, ambiguous character overall.
Danny’s 72 hour observation period is almost up. Dr. Edmonds has more questions for him before he determines whether Danny should be released. He asks where Danny went to school. Danny says that he was homeschooled. No wonder I like him so much. Also explains why he’s not falling back into socially acceptable patterns so easily. He wasn’t indoctrinated into pretending to be “normal” at a young age.
Danny passes all of the doctor’s test questions. Dr. Edmonds asks where he’s been for the last 15 years. Danny explains:
Danny: In K’un Lun. [Where is that?] It exists in another dimension. [Another dimension?] Yeah. It only appears on this earthly plane every 15 years, give or take, depending on the celestial tilt.
Dr Edmonds: Is this all a part of you trying to focus your chi?
Danny: Yes. If I can focus my chi, then I can summon the Iron Fist.
Dr Edmonds: And the Iron Fist is…
Danny: The Iron Fist is me.
Dr Edmonds: Are you Danny Rand or the Iron Fist?
Danny: I’m both.
You’d think the doctor had never heard of a secret identity or something. He diagnoses Danny with an anxiety disorder with psychotic features, after explaining how trauma brings on mental illness. You could, of course, find a diagnosis to fit virtually everyone’s mental state if you wanted to. None of us is the picture of perfect coping and whatever the DSM thinks is a “normal” belief system. Especially someone raised and living outside of government sanctioned “normal” methods, as determined by the gatekeepers of social norms. This is the symbolic reason that Danny hasn’t worn shoes much up until now, to illustrate that he thinks and sees the world differently, not because he’s too poor or stupid to cover his feet.
Danny had become more open and hopeful, but now he’s hunched in on himself again, closed up around his backpack. The doctor feels he’s given Danny good news, because now he knows how to treat Danny, by which he means how to fine tune the medications they’re pumping into him. Danny can’t be released yet, for his own safety, of course.
Danny insists that he’s telling the truth. He is the Iron Fist and he can focus power into his hand. The doctor says that ever since “the incident,” he’s seeing a lot more people who think they have super powers. He doesn’t specify which incident. The Chitauri? The fall of SHIELD and HYDRA? The fish oil that creates inhumans? The various extremis-related incidents? It’s been a busy world for the last 10 years. He asks Danny to convince him by showing him the Iron Fist. But Danny can’t, because the drugs are disrupting his powers. The doctor asks him to consider accepting that his powers aren’t real.
Be average, Danny. It’s easier for everyone.
Harold has been watching Danny’s session with the doctor. We see a glorious shot of Harold in his penthouse bunker, his back to us, with sunlight streaming in through the arched, church-like windows, symmetrical except for Kyle on the left throwing it off. He will betray Harold eventually. Kyle’s outfit is color coordinated to match the color scheme of the bunker. He’s still loyal for now, but Harold doesn’t see him, or sees him as part of the furniture. Like a piece of furniture, Kyle hears everything.
Kyle reports that his research into the Iron Fist has turned up empty. These guys rely way too much on the internet. Harold looks up at the message from The Hand, which is still on his window.
Harold calls Ward and tells him to have Danny moved from the psych hospital. Ward assumes that Harold wants Danny killed or otherwise neutralised. Harold replies that, no, he wants Danny kept safe, since Danny is the sworn enemy of The Hand. Danny is valuable to him. Ward is resistant, but Harold orders him to do it. Ward takes a pill, and calls the hospital.
The orderly drugs Danny again and puts him in a straight jacket, telling Danny that he’s being moved. Danny’s then locked in an isolation room with the three most violent
inmates patients, who proceed to beat the s**t out of him. One tells him that Ward Meachum sends his regards. That’s the catalyst that Danny needs for his metabolism to burn through the drugs so that he can manifest the Iron Fist. He takes down the thugs in short order, then escapes from his cell.
Danny runs down the hospital hall with the Iron Fist glowing. As he reaches the end, he leaps and smashes through a sealed steel door using the Iron Fist. It looks pretty cool. He stops for a moment, to savor how good it feels to be fully himself again. Then he steps out into the street and runs.
The doctor’s ethnocentrism immediately takes him out of Danny’s story about how he survived the plane crash. In North America, it would be unusual, though not outside the realm of possibility, for monks to find you after a plane crash. (There are, in fact, monasteries all over the US, both Buddhist and Christian, and probably other religions.) The doctor clearly decides that monks are fantastical creatures who disappeared in the Middle Ages. Guess he’s never heard of the Dalai Lama. There are thousands of Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayas. Warrior monks are also a tradition that has continued into the modern era.
The fact that this show has not one, but two main characters with fake deaths right out of the gate will never stop amusing me. Will all of the Rands show up again eventually? Maybe Mama Meachum?
The M&Ms bit really is genius. It seems silly, but it refers back to a clause in Van Halen’s tour contracts in the 80s that was meant as a simple way to make sure that every detail of their contract had been read and followed. The tour sets were elaborate and heavy. They could become dangerous if the venue wasn’t prepared, or they weren’t properly assembled. They knew that if the M&Ms clause wasn’t followed, others were probably missed or skimped on as well. But, instead of reporting the truth, media reports, to this day, sensationalize the story as spoiled, destructive rock stars looking for a reason to trash rooms and antagonize innocent, hard-working people. Just like Danny, Van Halen did trash rooms occasionally, but it didn’t mean that they weren’t also right. Danny’s story seems crazy, even stupid to American sensibilities, and the Meachums don’t want to believe it because of what it means for them, but it’s true. The M&Ms test proves it.
Danny sees a hawk at various times during the episode. The shadow hawk?
I love the exploration these episodes are doing of the hazy boundaries between crazy, different, normal, and criminal.
Below, a screen cap Harold and Kyle in the penthouse bunker. Harold is in the dark, but looking toward the light, in a part of the room that’s ordered and symmetrical. He has a plan, and a chance for a future outside of the bunker. But he’s looking away from the camera, and away from Kyle. He’s not paying attention to everything that’s important. Kyle blends in with the room, is off to the side, throwing the frame out of balance, and the image grows very dark when you move beyond him. He’s the weak link in Harold’s future. Harold thinks he’s bought loyalty, but he treats Kyle like a thing, and someone who’s been bought can be repurchased by a higher bidder. Kyle’s going to be tempted to move toward that darkness.
Harold is surrounded by circles and curves. Kyle’s side of the frame is filled with diagonal lines. Kyle’s look is off-kilter and Film Noir. Lies and secrets. Harold’s evokes a sacred place, or a place of learning: a cathedral, a museum, a university hall. Not sure why that’s associated with Harold yet, other than his great wealth and isolation, like he’s in an ivory tower. Will he end up as a sponsor, protector and friend to Danny? He’s already trying to protect Danny for purely selfish reasons. Hmm, the M&Ms that had so much meaning to Joy were also a bag of circles. All of those circles suggest that the familial bond that Danny feels toward the Meachums isn’t completely broken for Harold and Joy, either.