Luke Cage – Season 2 Episodes 5 – 9 Review

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Luke Cage Season 2 continues to get stronger as more cards are put on the table, and more little plots start coming together for a satisfying whole. Let’s hope this continues through to the finale, because it would be a shame to lose this momentum!

Synopsis:

After getting his backside handed to him by Bushmaster in front of the whole world, Luke Cage is on the hunt for more information that can lead him to a victory in the rematch. Meanwhile Mariah is starting to worry that he clean way out may not be as clean as she hoped…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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Father-son bonding exercise: Looking out for a gang of killers to arrive.

Luke Cage (Mike Colter) – Luke’s relationship with Claire has come to a screeching halt just as he ended up getting a concussion at the hands of the Bushmaster… Still, could be worse?

Misty Knight (Simone Missick) – Misty Knight is now equipped with a cyborg arm and is feeling more like her old self… including being surrounded by suspicious fellow officers…

Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) – Bushmaster is carrying on a grudge from his parents against the Stokes family, with Mariah being his prime target, though if later generations want to get involved, then so be it…

Shades (Theo Rossi) – Shades grew up rough, and spent time in prison with only one true ally… Did he really go through all that just to make a bunch of money through stock manipulation and live the good life?

Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) – Mariah feels like her life is finally going to stabilize without her going down the same path as the rest of her family… Well, maybe “hopes” is more accurate…

Tilda Johnson (Gabrielle Dennis) – Tilda is the daughter of Mariah and therefore a Stokes descendent. She may not be on Bushmaster’s radar at the moment, but she may have already helped his mother’s enemy, unbeknownst to her…

James Lucas (Reg E. Cathey) – James is a reverend, and Luke Cage’s father. When Luke went to prison (falsly) he blamed his son’s actions for making his wife ill. The guilt still overwhelming, James wishes to correct the mistake and reunite with his son…

Plus more!

The Good:

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Round 2: FIGHT!

The main thing here is that Luke Cage is back to his old self, sarcastic, laidback, angry when in a fight… the character we all liked before his wall-punching, girlfriend-shouting antics of the previous chunk of episodes. His chemistry with Daredevil cast member Foggy Nelson is Episode 5 is great, as is his working as a bodyguard for unpleasant yet kind of likable Raymond “Piranha” Jones in the same episode. He needs the money due to being sued, and through dialogue we hear the beginnings of the “Hero for Hire” part of his character from the comics.

The main part of this chunk of episodes is Bushmaster winning, then falling. He beats Luke Cage again (resorting to paralyzing powder to do it this time), forces Piranha to sign over Mariah’s fortune and club to him, and then attempts to burn Mariah and her daughter alive in their family home to complete his revenge (apparently senior Stokes burned his house down with his mother inside in the past…) Then this all comes crashing down as Luke Cage saves Mariah, and soon Bushmaster and his crew arrive at where Luke, Mariah, Misty, Mariah’s daughter Tilda and Luke’s father James have held themselves in and a mini-war breaks out, one that results in Cage beating Bushmaster to a pulp. Now, at the end of the episode Bushmaster explodes himself in the back of the police van, surviving due to his Nightshade-plant-induced powers. Makes sense, that was Episode 9 of 13 so of course he’s not dead, but it was still a good tale of a villain getting everything he wants, before losing it all. I really liked the two fights between Luke and Bushmaster as well, well choreographed, and in the case of the latter, brutal.

Another side story is Shades’ close buddy and fellow Mariah “soldier” Darius “Comanche” Jones, who is also a police informant. The two pretty much state through dialogue that they were intimate, romantically, in prison, but Shades sees prison and out-of-prison as two different worlds with different rules, but Darius feels otherwise. A very interesting direction, and one that adds far more layers onto Shades, a character who has been pretty straight forward for 90% of his screen time. In the end Darius is found out by his old friend, and shoots Police chief Tom Ridenhour in an attempt to convince his friend that he wasn’t an informant, but it just ends up with him getting shot by Shades anyway. Great acting by both Theo Rossi and Thomas Q. Jones as Shades and Comanche respectively, as the latter dies they have a teary goodbye. Good, complex crime drama right there.

Spinning off of this is Misty Knight, who nearly plants evidence in the home of a blatantly guilty man’s home, just like her old partner used to do. When Ridenhour doesn’t punish her for it, she quits out of guilt, only to later find out about the chief’s death, bringing her back in. Talk about ups and downs!

During the time everyone is held up in a Rand Industries building in Episode 9 we see Luke and his father get close again, and we see Tilda and her mother get much, much more distant as Mariah tells her daughter the truth of her birth… it’s a rather unpleasant tale of rape and the harsh upbringing of being under “Mama” Mabel Stokes, that ends up with Tilda being straight up told by her mother that she never actually loved her. She runs off crying as Mariah then takes up arms and shoots some Bushmaster thugs, finally falling down the Stokes path she’s tried so hard to avoid…

The Bad:

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Misty back with two arms just in time to have to shoot a gun in self defence!

Not much, apart from the intruding live musical performances, though even they aren’t as frequent or as long as the start of the season. This is an action packed period of the story arc, moving many characters on in meaningful ways while also leaving plenty to do in the finale. It’s a prime example of a good middle of a story.

Overall Thoughts:

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Luke Cage practices saying “hello”.

Luke Cage Season 2 delivers great action, some really great character drama and plot twists, and makes sure there is plenty for every cast member to do. Judged purely on being the middle of a story, it’s hard to fault it. Let’s hope the end lives up to all this well written action and drama!

5 Star Watch

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