Iron Fist Season 1 Episode 9: The Mistress of All Agonies Recap


For our episode 9 cold open, we’re back at Harold’s favorite body-dumping ground, which he passed down to Ward, like any good father would. It’s been approximately three days since Ward used the swamp to get rid of Harold’s body, after Ward’s murderous but character-defining moment of both insanity and defiance. Sure enough, Harold pops up out of the muck like the God he thinks he is, with the knife that killed him still in his side. He drags himself out of the primordial ooze and turns his face up to the heavens to revel in the next stage of his evolution.

David Wenham is having a fantastic time hamming it up as Harold.

Harold then winds his way through a neighborhood on foot, stopping to cool off in an open hydrant with some kids, which reminds him that he has a son, too.

Danny, Colleen, and Claire have brought Gao back to Colleen’s dojo for questioning. Gao is in the center of the room, tied up in a chair, but you’d never know it from her manner. She sits like a queen holding court, chuckling at Danny’s attempts to intimidate her.

Claire calls a time out when Danny becomes frustrated, and suggests they get some sodium pentothal, aka truth serum, from Rand, instead of escalating to physical torture. Gao hears what they say and doesn’t look worried.

Colleen totally has Gao’s number, unlike Danny. Danny won’t hand Gao over to the police until she tells him the truth about his father’s involvement with the Hand. Colleen calls him on it. What difference will knowing if his father worked with the Hand make, now? He already knows the Hand was involved in his parents’ deaths.


But, but, but, she’s denying Danny his right to angst over a complicated father-son relationship! Surely Danny’s father’s mistakes will say something about who Danny is as a person, even though his father died when he was very young and he was raised by the monks for longer than his bio dad raised him. Don’t worry, Danny already has his complicated relationship with Harold as a substitute.

Colleen looks very spooked, like something more is bothering her.

Joy has discovered that Harold owned the building that Ward took her to. Danny runs into her on his way to get the truth serum. She lets him know that they’ve all been ousted from Rand and asks him about Harold’s building. He tells her to stop asking questions. She blames him for everything that’s gone wrong since he came to NY, which is everything. He brushes her off. She’s wearing a lovely shade of baby blue that matches her eyes, but she’s still Harold Meachum’s daughter and she’s tired of the men shutting her out. This won’t end well.

While Danny’s gone, Gao takes the opportunity to prey on Claire’s insecurities and threaten her mother. Colleen gets Claire out of the room, then Gao notes that Colleen isn’t looking well. Colleen threatens to shove a sock in Gao’s mouth, which is what they should have done to begin with. Gao gets to Colleen before she can get the sock in Gao’s mouth, twisting the psychological knife with threats and insider knowledge of Colleen’s life. She implies that Colleen is hiding something big from Danny that will drive him away.

But, before Gao can finish her villain speech, Colleen is overcome by the poison from the Chinese blade that cut her arm last episode.


Meanwhile, Harold, still in a semi-amnesiac state, makes it to the Rand building, and wanders through the offices. He remembers enough to call his car and trusty assistant, Kyle, to take him home. Kyle fills him in on what’s going on in the present as they head back to the penthouse bunker.

Ward finds Harold there, looking like his old self. Harold tells Ward how important Ward is to him, and how much he’d wanted to be a good father. And, oh yeah, he can’t die. Ward is understandably weirded out, and tells Harold that he’s a monster. Harold cries and tells Ward how much he loves Ward and how sorry he is. Harold begs for forgiveness. Ward’s head is about to explode.

Harold asks Ward what he wants. Ward wants out of the family business, in all senses of the word. Harold explains that he was just trying to toughen Ward up. He’ll let Ward go and replace Ward with Joy. Ward hates that thought, just as Harold knew he would.

Danny returns to the dojo to find Colleen in bed, but insisting that she’s fine. They prepare the sodium pentothal for Gao, who is unperturbed, as always. She seems affected by the drug, and tells Danny that she got to know his mother first, then his father, but it was Harold that worked with the Hand. She says, “When your father found out…” then dramatically passes out, just as Colleen stumbles into the room, with the telltale lines from the poison emanating around the cut on her arm.

Gao stops pretending to be asleep and scoffs at them that of course the drugs didn’t work, she spent most of the 17th century being interrogated. She refuses to tell them about the poison and threatens that her people will be coming for them soon. Colleen has Danny call her Sensei, Bakuto.*

Before long, Gao’s goons arrive, preceded by a canister of gas and a flash-bang. They cut through the dojo roof and drop through, but there are only a few of them, which seems suspicious. Danny, Claire and Colleen take care of them quickly.

Ward stops by the Triad to ask for advice on dealing with difficult parents. The leader tells him a story from his village about a man who made a deal with the Hand like Harold did. Every time the man came back from the dead, he was worse, until he killed his own children. Meanwhile, Harold is busy killing Kyle because Kyle didn’t like the flavors of ice cream that Harold bought for him.

Ward slaps one of Gao’s synthetic heroin patches on as he’s leaving the Triad’s restaurant. When he gets outside, he finds the police waiting for him. They found a handful of heroin patches on the seat of his car, so it’s off to the mental hospital for his 72 hours of observation and chatting with Danny’s doctor friend. It’s hard to decide whether this is karma or wrong. It’s definitely Harold’s doing.

While Ward is explaining his “D*mned if he does, d*mned if he doesn’t,” position regarding talking about his father’s set up, Joy returns to Harold’s building. Harold leads her to the penthouse bunker by way of opening doors at the proper time so she’ll follow the trail. It’s a tearful reunion between father and daughter.

Bakuto finally arrives at the dojo, having taken care of the mercenaries Gao had waiting outside. Gao shows a crack in her composure, snapping at Bakuto that he has no business there.

Bakuto teaches Danny how to use the Iron Fist to heal Colleen. Danny burns the poison out of Colleen, then collapses. Bakuto’s men rush in and grab him and Gao. Colleen jumps up to join them as they get into SUVs and drive away, telling Claire she’s not allowed to come with.

Gao was warning Danny about Bakuto the whole time.

A young Asian man has been wandering around town throughout the episode, observing the places Danny was likely to be. He watches from the shadows now as Danny is taken away.




Harold should pay attention to that knife still in his side. It’s likely symbolic of knife/spear wounds received by both Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth, as their deaths approached. The gods’ chosen ones can still be brought down by the betrayal of the people closest to them.

Gao= Life Goals. I get the feeling that she was actually in charge for the entire episode, similar to Natasha claiming that she was running the interrogation when Coulson calls her at the beginning of the first Avengers movie.

Kyle was such a daring soul that his big dream for wild living was ice cream for breakfast. Remember, early on, when I thought he might be the one to stage a rebellion against Harold? Yeah, never mind.

Harold and Ward would’ve been amazing guests on some reality show that does sensationalist pop psychology like Jerry Springer or Dr Phil. They aren’t that far outside the bounds of real dysfunctional family dynamics, while also being ridiculously extreme comic book characters. My love for their relationship knows no bounds.

This is the toxic father-son bond you could have had, Danny. Go ahead, keep digging into your father’s past. Maybe he’s even still alive somewhere, and just as crazy as Harold.

When Joy finds Harold, she is still in her sky blue dress, symbolic of the place where dreams live. Harold may live up in the sky, but he’s not living a dream (or a living dream). He’s in purgatory, closed off from heaven and Eden, as symbolized by all of that concrete between him and the sky, and the glass separating him from his plants. It’s unlikely that they will turn out to fulfill each other’s dreams, either.

Bakuto is creepy as h*ll. He also just snatched Gao’s prey out from under her, which is no easy feat.

*D*mn it, I try so hard to avoid those dangling sentences. Danny phones Bakuto and asks him to come help Colleen. Danny and Colleen save the Sensei talk for the bedroom, ’cause they’re kinky like that. 😘