“SAY MY NAME”
Luke Cage, also known as Carl Lucas, was first introduced into the MNU, Marvel Netflix Universe, with the first season of Jessica Jones. He was the protagonist’s love interest, and to be fair, a man with bulletproof skin is a good mate for a woman with super strength. However, he became a temporary adversary to Jessica while under the control of Killgrave, and once he learned of his wife’s death by Jessica’s hand. After mending their relationship to something more friendly, Luke and Jessica part ways, with the former venturing to areas in order to lay low after his escapades with Miss Jones. Luke’s adventure was not over once he entered Harlem.
Luke takes refuge in Pop’s Barbershop; sweeping floors, washing windows, and working as a bartender at the illustrious night club, Harlem’s Paradise. Paradise though is the devil’s domain. Cornelius Stokes, known to Harlem’s underworld as Cotton Mouth, rules the area like a king. After one of Cornelius’s cronies guns down the barbershop, killing Pops in the process, Luke goes on a righteous path of dismantling Cotton Mouth’s operation, and his crooked politician of a cousin, Mariah Dillard. Mariah, while initially rejecting her past, embraces it, but at the sacrifice of her cousin’s life.
Fortunately for Cage, Matt Murdock, also known as Daredevil, assists Luke in his exoneration. Instead of returning to Harlem, Cage is reunited with Jessica Jones and along with Iron Fist and Daredevil, this team of misfit heroes take on the Hand. Luke had finally found a group of peers that he can rely on, these group of Defenders. Luke even found a new love in Claire, the one that connected all of these individuals. After helping to defeat the Hand, Luke leaves for Harlem to rebuild the barber shop and finish what he started a year ago.
Luke begins his retribution by taking out pedaling drug dealers, and lone gun runners. Yet our hero is going through another emotional upheaval as his father has returned to try to reenter Luke’s life. After rejecting his parentage, Luke’s rage boils over until it carries over into his crime fighting, and even his relationship with Claire. He is a man torn in two directions of how to be a hero. Mariah is also facing a similar dilemma over her identity.
Mariah rejects, vehemently so, her Stokes heritage under her gangster grandmother Mama Mayble, and with her new lover, Shades, she is now ready to clean up her act, even if that means selling Harlem’s Paradise. Shades is of a different mindset. He thinks that to reject the club is to turn away everything, good or bad, about Mariah’s past. In this regard, Luke and Miss Dillard are very much in the same mindset; they both reject their past parent figures with absolute vigor. They are both trying to reinvent themselves into something better, yet they both find themselves spiraling deeper into a whirlpool of villainy. All of this makes Luke Cage Season 2 a much more interesting show to watch all the way to the end.
With the format for this article, I have found no shows yet that has interested me enough to continue beyond the third episode, until now. I have continued to watch the second season of Luke Cage until the end, as Bush Master continues to dismantle Mariah Dillard’s whole criminal empire. Luke attempts to mend his relationships the best he can as he comes to terms with his father. Mariah attempts to reengage with her estranged daughter, yet only really for the manipulation and to fuel her public image. This aspect drew me in as did the pacing of this second compared to the first.
The problem that I felt plagued season one of Luke Cage was that I cared less and less about what was going on with the characters. At certain points the story drags, and the scenarios that the characters are put in seem to last too long for my attention span. While it did pick up once Cornel was murdered by Mariah, the series did slow down once more after Luke Cage is wounded with a Judas bullet and must seek out help from the man who gave him his powers in the first place. While this story milestone was great, it took a lot of time before getting from point A to point B.
The main antagonist, Bush Master, is an intimating foe, able to knock down Luke Cage with the speed and power of Black Panther. He seeks to dismantle Mariah’s castle brick by brick, just like Luke Cage. With Bush Master behind the scenes against Mariah and Luke, the story always seems to be pushing further and moving forward, and does not feel like it needs to take a breather until absolutely necessary. It is also a great setup for future confrontations with the villain, if in two to three hits he can kick a bullet proof man to the ground. All of this makes this series an enjoyable time.
A few things did lessen said experience. The Jamaican accents were hard to understand at times, to the point where I could not understand large portions of sentences. Some of the sound effects for Luke’s punches and slaps sound similar to what I can download off of some free domain website. There was no marketing push from Marvel or Netflix so I never knew about until I stumbled upon the tab one day. Other than those aspects, the series so far has been a joy to watch from beginning to end. Check it out on Netflix now.