Iron Fist Season 1 Episode 5: Under Leaf Pluck Lotus Recap


Okay, I know I’m supposed to take this new heroin that’s infesting Rand and our cities super seriously, but there’s an issue for me that I can’t get past. When the flight attendant drug dealer pulls out the stylish new heroin patch, what she pulls out is a medical dressing called Tegaderm made by 3M. It’s used for surgical wounds and to hold IV lines and medical devices to the skin. Metamaiden has been using them since she was ten years old for her diabetes devices. The heroin addiction explains so much, let me tell you.

I guess we now also know that Rand is patterned after 3M, which happens to be my husband’s employer. We’ve been living on the spoils of the drug and tape business for years now. Why do you think I’m so into duct tape? That’s where the cocaine is. 😎

Anyway, we actually open on a group of flight attendants young women with rolling cases headed to various offices. But, seriously, why the uniformed bot look? We hear them explaining the joy of their newest pharmaceutical product which, surprise! Turns out to be a no-muss, no-fuss synthetic heroin, which helpfully comes as pills, patches, powder, and drops. It’s been specially formulated so that the human body never develops a tolerance for it. The final potential client asks to test a sample on an expert, and brings out an addict with track marks all over his arm. No need for that any more! On goes the Tegaderm, which is breathable and waterproof, in case you’re wondering, so you can wear it 24/7, through all of your other activities. No idea how that would affect the heroin, but I’m going to guess they want you to keep a heroin patch or two on at all times. For your health.

The addict passes out for a moment, then wakes up and says it feels like the first time. Orders start pouring in.

Danny’s looking at the chemical analysis of the Steel Serpent drug sample that he had done by one of his chemists. She’s discovered that the new heroin is completely synthetic. Nothing that’s in it is illegal. There’s no need to import it from a foreign country, and it can be made in a lab in unlimited amounts. It could cause a major epidemic in the city. Danny tells her he intends to deal with it.

Joy is dealing with an ongoing lawsuit brought by a group of cancer patients who claim that a Rand chemical plant on Staten Island is causing their cancers. The company has followed all laws and regulations, and they’ve been cleared by the EPA. Legally, they didn’t cause the cancers. Joy tells them that even if they find evidence that the plant is causing the cancers, it’s still not the plant’s fault, since they followed the law. The patients need to take the matter up with the government. Joy ends up looking completely heartless.

Danny brings the Steel Serpent sample to show Ward in his office, and tells him that it’s being shipped in through the new Red Hook pier. Danny explains the situation in more detail, but Ward refuses to listen or help.

Danny goes to further investigate the pier situation, while Joy and Ward discuss their slimy business dealings. Joy still feels a few pangs of guilt over refusing to help cancer patients when she most likely caused the cancer. Ward encourages her to remember how business works.

Danny runs into the mother of one of the cancer patients in the lawsuit. She begs Danny for his help. Danny apologizes and promises to make it right.

Colleen is working with a client, Netflix Marvel staple Claire Temple, who’s learning to fight so that she doesn’t have to depend on her superhero friends.

Colleen lights up when she sees Danny. Guess we’ve turned a corner in that relationship. She asks him what he wants. He tells her that he wants to talk, but Colleen says she’s in the middle of a lesson. But he ordered take out, which is about to arrive. Claire introduces herself.

Danny ordered take out from his dad’s favorite restaurant, which involves tables, table clothes, candlelight, flowers, and fine china. What, too much for a casual lunch? Claire hints broadly that she’d like some too, and finally says she’ll give up the rest of her lesson for some lunch, so that they can start right away. Danny, who says it’s not a date, is a little annoyed, but Colleen jumps on the idea.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer sent the Meachums the video of Danny apologizing for the cancer and promising to make it right. The strategize over how to make it go away. After Joy leaves Ward’s office, he has a drink and takes some pills. Harold texts, telling him to do what Joy says. Ward isn’t sure exactly where Harold’s cameras are, so he gives the finger to every angle possible. I’m realizing that Ward might have simply been the bully in the distant past, but now he’s the hero child, trying to keep everyone else’s crazy balls in the air. Adding Danny’s crazy to the mix was one level of crazy too many, and now he’s cracking under the strain.

Danny says Buddhist grace before he starts eating lunch. Claire asks if the monastery was vegetarian. Danny says that they ate what they grew, but he and his friend Davos would sneak out for some donkey. This scene clearly wasn’t written by a vegetarian, so I’m going to grit my teeth and let the odd way that Danny phrases his description go, even though the whole exchange is so pejorative.

Claire asks what else he did in the monastery. She assumes it was a yoga retreat or something similar. He tells her learned martial arts. She becomes sympathetic, remembering that he was also in a plane crash and orphaned in a foreign culture where he didn’t speak the language. He tells her that he focused on training and renounced anything that interfered with it. Material attachments, indulgent activities, romantic entanglements. Colleen chokes and realizes this means he took a vow of chastity. Claire sits back and enjoys the show for a moment.

Pretty sure Danny’s going to give up that vow of chastity almost as fast as he gave up vegetarianism. Also pretty sure this is a date, with Claire as chaperone.

Then Claire asks why Danny waited so long to come back. He tells her that the way was closed. He had to wait for it to open again. Colleen interrupts him to asks what he came there to talk about. Claire interrupts Colleen to say it’s time for her to go.

Danny tells Colleen about the synthetic heroin and the criminal infiltration of Rand. He can’t go to the police because that will implicate Rand, and the drug traffickers will just move to another company. He wants to get proof that this is happening to give to Ward.

There’s a shipment tonight at the new pier. It will be inspected at the pier, and he can get proof then. He wants Colleen to come with him to watch his back. She balks at the idea, because she’s only a karate teacher. Who fights and wins in illegal fight clubs, he points out. If they can’t shut the heroin down, it will get out into the neighborhoods and affect her students. People will die. He knows she’s restless and wants to use her training, just like he felt in K’un Lun. Then he pulls out the puppy dog eyes, and she gives in.

He tells her she doesn’t have to worry about cancelling her evening class, because he bought her building. She’s getting so immune to the way he just does stuff that she doesn’t bother to argue. Eventually, he’ll tell her that whatever they did the night before counts as a marriage ceremony in K’un Lun, so they’re married now. It worked when Erik vampire married Sookie without her knowing it in the True Blood/Southern Vampire Mysteries books with a lovely knife passing ceremony. Colleen will just shake her head and accept it.

The Rand board meets to discuss the cancer lawsuit crisis. Danny hasn’t shown up for the meeting, of course. Ward doesn’t think they should settle, but the board disagrees. Joy sticks up for Ward.

Danny looks through Colleen’s weapon’s locker and pulls out a sword. He and Colleen each take a turn showing off. Then Danny pulls out her nunchucks and they each have a turn. When the weaponry foreplay is over, it’s time to go. Danny ignores the calls he’s been getting from the office.

The lawsuit video has gone public. Ward drinks, takes more pills, and ignores his father’s phone calls as he watches the news reports. He contemplates the heroin sample.

Danny and Colleen arrive at the pier and find a perch to watch from. Colleen asks Danny if the attention from being famous bothers him. He says he’s used to it from when he was a kid. She warns Danny that people will try to take advantage of him now that he’s a billionaire instead of a homeless man. He says that she didn’t. She notices that the men surrounding the truck have machine guns. He turns into a martial arts snob and says it’s because they don’t know how to fight. Oh, sweet, sweet Danny. Maybe they’re all very proficient in karate or kung fu, but for this job they’d like to be able to kill a lot of people at once, quickly, from a distance. Different tools for different jobs. Sometimes Americans do things the simple way because they’re efficient, not because they’re lazy.

Danny says Colleen can go home if she’s afraid of the guns. She can fight in the fight club instead. Colleen admits that it feels really good when she wins her fights. Danny says that the world hasn’t exactly been kind to either of them, but maybe doing something like this, taking down a drug ring, will help. Then he tells her to walk where he walks, and they won’t be seen.

They make their way through the dock yard, the sexual tension growing as they slip through tight quarters. Danny thanks her for helping him, and being there for him. He asks if she has anyone who’s there for her. She doesn’t answer and acts a little upset. He apologizes for prying. That’s not a good sign.

The dockworkers open the trucks for instruction. They appear to be carrying innocent equipment. Danny slips down to the trucks for a closer look. He hops up into one of the trucks to check some boxes just as the dockworkers come back to close it up for transport. Danny hides, and gets driven away in the truck.

Colleen rushes over to a nearby security vehicle. She knocks out the guard and steals the car, then follows the truck carrying Danny.

Danny hears the sound of a TV coming from behind a wall in the truck. He looks behind it and discovers that it’s set up as a living space. A chemist and a guard are there. Danny and the guard fight. There is a knife involved. The chemist is accidentally stabbed through the chest during the fight.

Danny helps the chemist to the back door of the truck, then uses the Iron Fist to smash open the lock. Colleen is right behind them. She gets as close to the truck as possible, then Danny and the chemist jump onto the hood of the car. Colleen pulls over so they can get inside. The chemist is in bad shape, but is a wanted criminal. He can’t go to the hospital, so they’ll have to call Claire.

Joy wanders into Ward’s office to find him passed out from pills and alcohol. She gets him to wake up, but he sounds like he’s raving. He’s really talking about Harold, and how trapped he feels. No way out. Joy is scared and worried about her brother.

Claire uses Danny’s credit card to help the chemist. The card will help seal his collapsing lung. He begins to breathe normally again. Kids, don’t try this at home.

The chemist wants them to return him. His kidnappers have his daughter, Sabina, and will kill her if he’s not returned. They ask who was holding him.

The Hand.

Claire has dealt with the Hand before, and it turned out badly. This will start a war.

Danny realizes that the enemy he was supposed to fight in K’un Lun has been in NY all along. The chemist says that the Hand is everywhere. He’s the inventor of the synthetic heroin formula. They want him to make it for them so that they can ship it all over the world. Claire confirms that the Hand makes a habit of kidnapping children to control their parents.

The chemist says that Sabina is all that matters. Danny promises to find her. Claire tells him that a rich kid from the Upper West Side can’t possibly take on the Hand, having never heard of Iron Man, I guess. She’s been patronizing with him from the start, assuming that anyone with money doesn’t really know what life is about or how to work hard.

She tells him that this job will take special skills. He makes his “This my destiny” speech, and she makes her “Why is it my destiny to get tangled up with superheroes?” speech. It seemed like she believed him a little too easily, but maybe she recognizes a certain fire in the eye at this point. Colleen says she’ll be there to help Danny.

The guard that Danny fought in the truck describes his opponent to an elderly woman who stands in the shadows. She clearly recognizes that he’s describing the Iron Fist. When he’s done, she executes him for his failure. Then she turns to face the camera, and Madame Gao is revealed.


Colleen lights up every time Danny walks into the dojo. Joy must have told her some pretty good childhood stories.

I’ve seen people criticize Danny for including himself when he says,”The world hasn’t exactly been kind to us.” They feel that he can’t have suffered in any meaningful way when compared to Colleen because he’s a white male while she’s a woman of color. I’m not sure why some people think suffering always has to be a competition, and only the person who can prove they’ve suffered the most gets to talk about it, or how you’d even measure that. But, even if that were the case, it’s not what Danny said. He acknowledged that they’d both experienced a significant amount of suffering, not how they’d suffered, or who’d suffered more. By any measure, Danny has had terrible things happen to him.  I’m not going to guess at what’s happened to Colleen, or who had it worse. It’s not the point right now. The point is that they relate to certain things in each other, and feelings of loss, having to struggle and being alone are some of them.

Danny is an empathetic person partly because of the level of loss he’s experienced. Unlike Joy and Ward, who have experienced some loss but still struggle to relate to people, he lost everything. Everything he’d ever known or loved. It doesn’t matter that you’re a white male when that happens. No amount of previously held privilege can make up for it.

Were we not supposed to have recognized Madame Gao before the end of this episode? Her voice and silhouette are distinctive, and her name has been in the end credits every time she’s appeared. With the way the Netflix verse loves to share characters, I’m more surprised when it’s not someone we’ve seen before.