Luke Cage – Season 2 Episodes 1 – 4 Review

Luke Cage S2 P1

Luke Cage’s first season was part good, part dull, so fingers crossed Season 2 learns from past mistakes. So far I can say it’s been good, but with a few flaws, which is how Season 1 started! Anyway, while it’s far from perfect, it has some good action, good humour, good drama and sets up the new big villain really well. That’s a good start to a season! Let’s take a look…

Synopsis:

Luke Cage, the bulletproof defender of Harlem, has become a celebrity, and the life is starting to change him, and not for the better. Meanwhile Mariah wants out of the illegal gun smuggling trade, and a new threat from Jamaica soon arrives in New York…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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Luke Cage, enjoying his time as a hero… Surprising how that’s a novel concept nowadays…

Luke Cage (Mike Colter) – Luke Cage has become a hero to the people of Harlem, and he’s dedicated to keeping the image up and the streets clean, especially from the drug peddlers who have put his name on their latest creation…

Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) – Claire is still in love with Luke, though she is becoming increasingly worried about his tunnel-vision to do with stopping all the crime in Harlem…

Misty Knight (Simone Missick) – Misty lost her arm during the whole team up fight with The Hand (ironically!) and she’s becoming content with staying retired… until some of her old cases become null and void due to her corrupt ex-partner’s past being revealed…

Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) – Bushmaster comes from Jamaica to join his Yardie brothers in New York. He has a grudge with the Stokes family, and he doesn’t care if their current head has changed her surname to Dillard…

Shades (Theo Rossi) – Shades is happy with his close relationship with Mariah, their criminal empire slowly growing, so it’s a shock to him when Mariah tries to “go legit” and take a big money pay-out…

Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) – Mariah is still haunted by her family, stuck between trying to escape from their shadows and keeping their names alive. She sees a new opportunity to make legit money as a way to finally bring respect to her lineage.

Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) – Colleen had her life saved by Misty Knight, at the expense of Misty’s right arm. Colleen wants to help her friend get back on her feet and fight, but it’s not easy…

Plus more!

The Good:

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“Ta-dah!”

Misty Knight was probably the stand out protagonist in this batch of episodes, thanks to an odd choice of characterisation for Luke Cage. Her trying to deal with having only the one arm but still trying to do her job was good drama, the fight scene with her and Colleen against some thugs in a bar was particularly good. It’s almost a shame she gets her robo-arm next episode, they’ve done a convincing job in showing her that she can live a normal life with just the one arm…

There are scenes in the first few episodes where Luke Cage is beating on local thugs and drug dealers that are good fun. I may have issues with Luke Cage in later episodes (see below) but seeing some drug-dealing criminals pull guns on him, Luke just saying “Really?” and the thugs responding “we gotta know we tried, man…” before Luke sighing, putting on his headphones and motioning for them to try and shoot him is good fun, as was the ensuing beatdown. There is also a good scene where Luke beats up a bunch of Yardie members in front of Bushmaster, and an amusing scene where Luke get exploded in a truck carriage and just walks up to the perpetrator pissed off. I like a confident Luke Cage, but … well, again I’ll get to that in the bad…

The two villains of the story are well set up here, especially Bushmaster. His thick Jamaican accent and general swagger feels fresh, and he has so far out-smarted and beat both Luke Cage and Season 1 baddie Mariah (with Shades) at every corner. I’m looking forward to how far he pushes it before his inevitable beatdown by a renewed and re-focused Luke Cage at the end of the season…

Mariah and Shades still make a convincing criminal duo, if not a very convincing pair of lovers (I think it’s just Shades looks like he’s only in it for his own gain all the time that I just don’t buy it…) and her attempting to go legit much to her partner’s chagrin is an interesting side-plot. Mariah trying to reconnect with her daughter purely for PR is also a good side story (and a sadly realistic one…). Mariah’s daughter being the MCU version of Nightshade is also something I’ll be looking out for, though she already seems extremely different from her comic counterpart… (though that’s the case for most of Luke Cage’s enemies due to… well, less than politically correct 70s and 80s comics…)

Luke’s supporting cast is also still really good, especially kindly old Bobby Fish, whose conversations with Cage, especially reminiscing about their old friend “Pops” are still extremely believable and heart-warming. It’s a shame he leaves in Episode 4, though not in any kind of life-threatening way, so he may be back down the line. Luke Cage’s father is also introduced in this batch of episodes, a super-religious reverend who seemingly looks down on his son, but wants to reconnect. Luke is having none of it, as his father never helped him when the love of his life died, or when he went to prison… so, I can see Luke’s side of the argument, really… Anyway, he’s neither here nor there at the moment. A wait and see.

The Bad:

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A new baddie for a new age… or something. I was going to write a sentence using Jamaican syntax, but I thought that would just sound wrong… in several ways.

So Luke Cage has gotten a bit full of himself, being all bulletproof and heroic, that’s fine. I can understand that, and pride comes before the fall etc, but when he talks to his girlfriend Claire about how he can’t stop to be with her, then goes on a loud, shouty rant about people like him being persecuted (including describing himself with the n-word, when using that word was something he threatened kids about last season…) and then when Claire brings his father up, he punches a hole through the wall in anger. What’s going on?! Luke has always been the laid back, nice guy of the Defenders, where did all this come from? It’s the literal opposite of what we know about the character, and gaining a bit of an ego isn’t an excuse…Very unpleasant scenes, and I don’t blame Claire for leaving his arse. I’m sure by the end of the Season he will have gone through an emotional journey and become a better man, it’s just annoying because he was already a better man in all his other appearances, changing his character so he can then return to how he was isn’t a good bit of writing, really…

While I know a lot of scenes happen in Mariah’s club, but do we need several minutes of musical performances each episode? Can’t they just play in the background and maybe the camera focuses on them for a few seconds? No need for a whole few minutes of just them playing, with a few scenes of the cast doing things being silently intercut with it.

Oh and I get some police officers can be bastards (particularly when we’re dealing with black lead characters, sadly realistically) but why were so many members of the police making fun of Misty’s lack of an arm? Seems overly harsh humour, to say the least!

Overall Thoughts:

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Awww, they’re so cute….?

Luke Cage Season 2 gets a lot of things right, in fact the scenes with Misty (including funny banter moments alongside a more in-character Luke Cage) and the new antagonist Bushmaster are really good, and are setting up a good story. I just hope we now get a more… normal Luke Cage instead of whatever the hell that was in Episode 3… It really brings this batch down a peg, but as it’s only the start of the season I hope it won’t effect the overall score at the end…

3 Star Watch

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