Luke Cage learns the truth about Reva, and Mariah turns Harlem against Luke

Spoiler alert: Luke Cage is fine. He survives the acid bath and Claire and Noah are able to remove the shrapnel from his body. The show desperately tries to force suspense, but there isn’t any because he’s the main character and Marvel isn’t foolish enough to pull some Batman v Superman nonsense in the middle of the season. However, the one upside of the entire sequence was seeing Claire Temple be the smart and capable healer that she is.

After Luke wakes up, he proceeds to examine the stuff on Reva’s flashdrive and discovers she had been lying to him. She knew about Rackham’s prison fight club, which was apparently more part of Noah Burstein’s experiment, and had been keeping tabs on Luke. The video is definitely a hard pill to swallow for Luke, who is still in love with the idea of her. And, we know he’s just in love with idea of her because he says exactly that, because the dialogue on this show is rather clunky.

Luke gets a taste of the truth and decides he wants more. So, he and Claire take a trip to his hometown in Georgia for some answers about Willis Stryker. A little trip down memory lane in his father’s now-abandoned church helps him realize Stryker is indeed his brother and hates him because their father hated the idea of Stryker. God, people have so many ideas about feelings in this episode that I’m losing track!

From there, the Luke and Claire road trip returns to Harlem to find a significant part of the neighborhood turned against him. In his absence, Stryker decided to provoke the police into buying his weapons by dressing in a hoodie, putting on some gloves that mimic Luke Cage’s powers, and punching and killing a cop as he yells “I’m Luke Cage,” which made me laugh too hard.

Obviously, the police force doesn’t like it when one their own is killed. So, they go into stop-and-frisk mode and start harassing the black and Latino residents of Harlem looking for Luke Cage. One cop takes things way too far when he beats Lonnie (the kid Luke shielded from Tone’s assault on the barbershop) for information about Luke Cage. At Diamondback’s urging, Mariah is ready to pounce on this and use it and the dashcam footage as a way to stoke people’s fears about Luke Cage. She blames Lonnie’s beating and the persecution of people of color in Harlem on Luke Cage and urges the community to support arming the police with the weapons they need to fight metahumans like Luke. Luke Cage hasn’t strayed away from tackling social issues in its run, but this entire subplot felt weird and made me feel uncomfortable. Part of it, I think, is her using Lonnie’s beating to advocate for increasing the militarization of police, which is an issue we’re facing in the real world right now.

Luke Cage decides it’s a good idea to visit Mariah’s rally at Harlem’s Paradise. When he arrives, he sees Misty, who figured out who Stryker is and Luke’s real name, ascending the stairs to Cottonmouth’s Diamondback’s office. She confronts Stryker, but he shoots her. Thankfully, Luke arrives before he can finish the job. At this point, everyone knows Luke is there and is making it rain bullets from machine guns. As the episode ends, Luke and a wounded Misty are taking cover behind the bar.

Additional Points:

  • The Reva twist definitely helps explain why I didn’t find their relationship convincing, especially that cheesy motel scene. In hindsight, it feels like she was holding back from him.
  • In one of Luke’s flashbacks, we see Luke’s mother chiding his father for caring more about the congregation than his own family. I think that creates a very interesting parallel between Luke and Mariah. Similarly, Mama Mabel was there for victims of domestic abuse in Harlem, but she tried to brush Pete assaulting Mariah under the rug.
  • In her speech at the rally, Mariah mentions “that woman in Hell’s Kitchen” who “snapped a man’s neck because he was mind controlling her.” Now, I’m wondering what that means for Jessica Jones. Is she in prison now?
  • Meta Moment of the Episode: “Those people need to look at that dashcam footage and ask themselves if the world is ready for bulletproof n—-rs that eat cops for breakfast,” says Stryker to Mariah as he outlines his plans for convincing the police they need his weapons.

Episode Recaps

Marvel's Luke Cage
The third colloboration from Marvel and Netflix, Luke Cage is based on the comic of the same name. Mike Colter plays the titular character, who is a former convict with superhero strength. Cheo Hodari Coker developed the series.
  • TV Show
  • 2