What’s On? – Luke Cage (Part 2)
Well. I certainly wasn’t prepared for that.
Hello, internet! Welcome to our conclusive episode… er… article? Welcome to the part two of the Luke Cage review, all right? In this segment we’re going to be tackling all the tough questions brought about by episodes 7 -13. Who portrayed the best villain for the series? Was Misty Knight right or wrong in all of this? And, most importantly, is Luke Cage On… or Off?
Be warned, here there be spoilers.
So jumping right into it, the second half of the series picks up after Detective Scarfe has gone to meet his son in… actually, he probably won’t be seeing his son in the afterlife. Or maybe he will. Then again, this is the Marvel Universe and since Ghost Rider is confirmed to exist in this cinematic universe as well… it’s probably safe to say that dude is well and truly burning in hell for Mephisto’s amusement. But I digress! Following that, Cottonmouth was arrested, only to ultimately escape. So where do things go from here? Honestly? I can’t very well say they went AT ALL how I was expecting. The layers and layers of cloak and dagger and murder swirling around this second half are so thick, you couldn’t pierce it with a jackhammer. But is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well… I honestly am a little mixed, if only because where the story wound up going was a departure from the story I’d honestly been wanting to see.
Without saying much, the series takes a hard turn clear and away from dealing with Cottonmouth, and without a terrible lot of resolution to his arc. I honestly wanted to see more of him. To me he was a very charismatic villain. One whose complexities and demeanor were interesting to me. The next batch of antagonists were… decidedly less interesting for me to watch, personally. They weren’t bad, but what I honestly wanted for this series was for Cottonmouth to remain the focus, at least for the duration of the show’s first season. He was a well realized character, probably because of the amount of time he was given and the drastic differences from one of his appearances to the next. When other antagonists showed up, you pretty much knew exactly what you were going to see, expect maybe with the exception of not knowing whether or not they were going to just kill someone because… villains.
Cracking that one open a bit, the next most entertaining to behold were perhaps most easily Diamondback and Shades. While the former survives almost entirely on the hugely amusing performance, the latter is just… there’s really nothing to call him other than “cool.” However… that’s about it. One more or less comes down to ‘If Daddy Issues Were Sentient,” and the other is… honestly not all that interesting outside of look and demeanor. However, and I’ll be honest, I… honestly am not feeling the use of Black Mariah in this. Now don’t get me wrong at all. I’m not saying her comic book counterpart is in any way superior because… yikes no. But ultimately I wasn’t feeling the arc. I get what they were trying to do with her. They wanted to more or less paint a picture of her slow descent into madness and evil and corruption, yadda yadda. Buuut this show ain’t Breaking Bad, and she ain’t Walter White. She really… really isn’t. And I think part of the issue is honestly just that they don’t really delve into her background… at all. We get a few scenes that are honestly more about Cottonmouth than her, and a few throwaway lines. That’s… that’s pretty much it. On top of that she’s not all that entertaining to watch, so that doesn’t make up for it. One could argue that she’s one of those characters you’re supposed to “love to hate,” but… I don’t enjoy hating her. I just hate her. I enjoy hating Damien Wayne. Meanwhile Jason Todd can go die in a fiery pit and never return, for all I care. Mariah’s in that second category for me.
Side note: I would appreciate it if once, just ONCE, the good guys can actually save a targeted individual after giving them this hopeful monologue. Because literally every civilian they give the hopeful monologue to… dies. It got to where I called it the instant any character looked like they might survive being targeted. At least one triumph would’ve been nice.
So let’s talk about the police and Misty Knight. More and more I’m beginning to adore her character in this. Also, spoiler alert – at one point she gets shot in the arm. The sheer volume of references to the robotic arm was something I very much appreciated. And no, that’s not a thing in this series just yet. But one day, True Believers! One day! Anyway. The police. Yeah, they’re uh… they’re kind of awful in these few episodes. And part of me can’t help but feel like that was something done mostly in reference to the troubles with rising tensions between civilians and law enforcement, today. The series more or less used it to turn Luke into something of a walking symbol for the plight faced by African-Americans. The extent to which the effect was achieved is something I’ll leave to you. There were things in there I agreed with, things I didn’t, and things I can’t determine if they were serious about or if a character was just saying because a moment was emotionally charged. That being said, watch it, decide for yourself. This isn’t the site to get up on a soap box. My job’s to make you laugh with my unique brand of non-humor. See? It’s working. Anyway. Delving into the psychology of Misty’s character was honestly equal parts fascinating and perhaps a tad bit overlong. It didn’t overstay its welcome too much, but it could’ve been trimmed a tad. That said, was she wrong in the long run? Those of you who’ve already seen it know what I’m talking about and… who can say? Should she have trusted the system? She seemed to do so blindly before and it got her into just as much trouble. Now that trust has waned significantly and… yep. Still trouble. What should she have done? I welcome your thoughts.
What other things are there to talk about? There are some more revelations regarding Luke’s past, of course. Though I honestly don’t know what to think about that at this time. As I watched it, I didn’t really feel anything. Possibly my mind deciding (slowly, as usual) between being emotionally impacted in the way they wanted, and being annoyed. Annoyed is generally an effect that a moment will have on me if it tried to bring out the waterworks and miserably fails, along with all the writer’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations. This didn’t exactly crash and burn, so much as just… spin out.
The last thing I really want to unpack in this series is the dynamic of Luke and Claire, who really share the spotlight in this half of the series. And spoiler alert – it gets romantic. If I’m honest? I can’t tell if I don’t buy it because it was so… quick, or I simply prefer the idea of them just being besties, rather than romantically linked. I just know that as things are, presently… not a fan. BUT their banter was entertaining and they play off of one another well. Honestly? Claire plays off of pretty much everyone well. Her interactions with Misty were amazing.
With all of that said, let’s see what we’ve got. A restrained but not uninteresting protagonist, solid supporting characters, a mostly entertaining but otherwise pretty meh cast of antagonists when compared to the initial one (who I would have liked to see more of, if only to see how he became the way he did, based on the snippets we see of his past, here), strong dialogue, nice action (especially the final fight), surprisingly good tension for a series about a man who’s nigh invulnerable, an overall hopeful message, and something I’ve yet to mention. The series honestly analyzes the idea of what the world would be like if, suddenly, people like Luke existed. It isn’t like in the comics where they’ve been around for ages. This is a new thing to their world, still, and it’s interesting to see how all walks of life deal with it.
So with all that taken into account, is Luke Cage still ON? Or can you skip the second half? The verdict is in and Luke Cage may be a bumpy ride in the second half, but it is most definitely…
Thanks for reading, guys. Keep up the awesome and, as always, take care.