Luke Cage Season 2 comes to a satisfying end as all the loose ends are tied up, with get a dramatic fight, a significant character death, and big things are set up for a potential Season 3. What more do you want in a season finale?
With the Bushmaster injured but on the run, the streets of Harlem still aren’t safe. Luke Cage knows that either Mariah, who has regained her Stokes edge, or the returning Bushmaster will only cause more trouble, but wouldn’t be easier to let them take each other out? Does Cage have it in him?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
You could almost say, these two heroes are for hire! … Well, okay, storyline at the moment means you can’t, but hey-ho… reference!
Luke Cage (Mike Colter) – Luke Cage has made peace with his father and beaten Bushmaster clean in a fight, and although the latter got away, he’s feeling quite good about himself…
Misty Knight (Simone Missick) – Misty wants Mariah behind bars and the streets of Harlem safe, but sometimes doing things the right way is the hardest way…
Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) – Bushmaster is clinging on to life, wishing to live long enough to kill Mariah and end the Stokes bloodline that once killed his mother in front of his eyes…
Shades (Theo Rossi) – Shades is happy to see a more determined and Stokes-like Mariah, but when she goes too far even for him, he has to decide whether he can really continue to serve her…
Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) – Mariah lost everything to Bushmaster, apart from her newfound ruthless, Stokes-like attitude. She soon regains her money and her club, but no longer has a line that she won’t cross…
Tilda Johnson (Gabrielle Dennis) – Tilda is the daughter of Mariah, though as she just found out, is the product of incest and rape, so… hooray for that. Tilda is starting to see that maybe Bushmaster has a point, that maybe the Stokes bloodline should be wiped out…
Danny Rand / Iron Fist (Finn Jones) – Danny has found inner peace, leading to him not being such an unlikeable knob. He now wants his good friend Luke Cage to have the same peace, or at least be less likely to punch holes in walls…
Round 3: Fight!!
The key point of these four episodes is that fact that the lead villain switches from Bushmaster to Mariah, who has gone all Stokes-like in her willingness to do anything in order to keep power and control over the streets of Harlem. Episode 10 is particularly horrific in this sense when she personally oversees a massacre of unarmed, innocent civilians in a Jamaican café that has ties to Bushmaster, then personally burns the man’s cousin and friend alive in gory detail before shooting him dead because he was taking too long to die. It was so horrible that I immediately wanted Mariah to get offed in response. Even Shades, Mr. Stone Cold Gangsta, looked appalled and wanted out of his relationship with the crazy woman.
In the following episode we’re “treated” to a flashback where we see Bushmaster’s mother burnt alive in a house at the hands of Mama Mable, though not as half as unpleasant as the previous episode’s burning, it was still pretty bad. It did make you see that while Bushmaster isn’t right in wanting revenge, you do see him as the lesser of the two evils, especially when he meets up with the only survivor of the café massacre and even sort-of relates to Luke Cage, who is becoming extremely tempted to just let Bushmaster kill Mariah and be done with it. This all leads to the big fight of the season, where a super-charged Bushmaster attacks Mariah, and ends up fighting Luke Cage, Shades and Misty in a three-on-one where he had the advantage. There was some great scenes of people getting knocked through objects and switching between opponents, Bushmaster nearly getting to Mariah only for another person to stop him. Properly great fight. Luke gets Bushmaster in a choke and nearly out-right kills him, if it weren’t for Misty talking him down.
Episode 13 is then a quieter affair, with Mariah being arrested thanks to the testimony of a still-frightened Shades and being thrown in prison, and Bushmaster feeling the after effects of a Nightshade overdose and so quietly getting sent back to Jamaica (which is good, because he was a great character, so anything that leaves a door open for his potential return is good in my books). Mariah’s daughter Tilda is sick of the demon that is her mother, and after seeing Bushmaster off on a plane she visits Mariah in prison and gives her a kiss on the lips, with lipstick coated in poison. During a conversation with Luke Cage a short while later Mariah dies, which frankly was good because I really began to hate her. The actual ending wasn’t the best (see below!) but it was still a great story arc closer for both Mariah and Bushmaster, while setting up Tilda for next season.
Other things of note include Episode 10 heavily featuring Danny Rand / Iron Fist teaming up with Luke Cage, Heroes for Hire style. Rand was much more laidback and funny, like he should have been all along, so that brings me some hope for Iron Fist Season 2. There was a good two versus many fight with them in a drugs lab as well. Misty not only got to see Mariah arrested, but because of Ms. Stokes’ death in prison making Shades’ deal null and void, she also got to arrest him in the end, which was nice as there were scenes where the sunglasses-wearing baddie was confessing all his crimes in interrogation that was sometimes uncomfortable (and well acted by all involved). It was overall a great set of episodes really.
He wears his sunglasses at night, so he can, so he can… still be called Shades.
The only real bad was the final few scenes. So in Episode 13 Luke Cage comes to the conclusion that the only way to keep Harlem safe is to become its new crime kingpin and keep all the other criminals in line via fear. By the end of the episode Luke Cage has taken over the Harlem’s Paradise bar that had been in the Stokes family for generations, and was making plans with a fancy suit on, leading to an almost scene-for-scene recreation of the iconic “Michael?” doors-closing moment from Godfather, only with Luke Cage and Misty. I… just don’t buy it. It does set up an interesting new status quo for Season 3, but I just don’t see Luke Cage ever thinking this would be a good idea. There’s a scene where he’s breaking some thugs fingers one-by-one to intimidate crime boss Rosalie Carbone that just wasn’t like him, and came out of the blue. It reminded me of the sudden out-of-character moments he had in the opening few episodes too much.
Luke Cage finds out what it’s like being a visitor to a prison for once!
Overall it was a great end to the season-long story arcs, and it had a genuinely great fight in Episode 12 as well. A final few shots that failed to land for me knock it back from a 5, but it’s still a satisfying end to what had been set up all Season.