Luke is on the run again, and Mariah and Shades form an unlikely alliance
PREVIOUSLY: Luke Cage episode 12 recap
The introduction of Diamondback threw Luke Cage for a loop and shook the show up too much. Since we met Willis Stryker, the show became less about the Harlem of it all and more about his vendetta against Luke, which, as I said before, is kind of boring. However, this episode finds the show re-centering itself and getting back to what made the show so interesting: Luke Cage finding his place in Harlem.
It seems as though Mariah’s attempts to sully Luke’s reputation with the people of Harlem hasn’t been entirely successful. Word has spread that he’s innocent and Harlem now views him as a folk hero or Harlem’s Captain America, to borrow Cottonmouth’s name for him.
After Luke escapes from the police transport, one of his guards catches up to him, but lets him go because he believes in him. “More people rooting for you than you think,” says the cop. The show returns to this point later on when Luke, while on the run, takes time out of his day to stop a bodega robbery and happens to run into Method Man, who was just as jazzed to meet Luke as Luke was to meet him. Luke asks if he’d be down to trade sweatshirts, and Method Man gladly takes his bullet-ridden one.
Following that encounter, Method Man goes to Sway’s radio show and talks about the importance of Luke Cage. “There’s something powerful about seeing a black man that’s bulletproof and unafraid,” says Method Man. Yes, that quote combined with Method Man’s ensuing rap about Luke Cage is meta and self-congratulatory. But, you know what? I don’t have a problem with it because a superhero show as progressive and socially conscious is allowed to be meta and self-congratulatory.
Method Man isn’t the only one with Luke Cage fever; it sweeps Harlem and we start to see more and more residents don hoodies with bullet holes as a sign of solidarity with their folk hero. Harlem’s acceptance of Luke Cage is comparable to how I feel about the show itself: I’m overjoyed that it’s on the air because, and this is probably a cliché at this point, there’s nothing like seeing yourself represented on TV.
But, Luke isn’t letting his adopted neighborhood’s support of him get to his head. He’s still pounding the pavement looking for Diamondback. That eventually leads him to Turk, who gives up Stryker’s location. Unfortunately, by time he gets to the warehouse, all that’s left of Diamondback are the bodies of Domingo and his crew and a bomb. Luke manages to escape the building just in time.
NEXT: A meeting at the barbershop
Meanwhile, the dark side is starting to stumble. Diamondback orders Zip to kill Shades after he’s release from prison, but Zip fails. And Mariah, realizing the horror she’s unleashed on her beloved neighborhood, decides it’s time to jump ship, too. So, she and Shades join forces and decide to form an alliance with Luke Cage. Their hope is that Luke and Diamondback will kill each other.
So, Luke, Mariah, and Shades rendezvous at Pop’s Barber Shop. (ASIDE: Another sign the show lost track of itself: This is the first time we’ve seen the barbershop in a long time. END ASIDE.) Mariah and Shades offer Luke the information he needs to clear his name in exchange for his help. Right as they make their deal, Diamondback shows up at the barbershop wearing a suit that gives him Luke-like powers, which leads to this hilarious, beautiful and classic Luke Cage exchange.
Bobby Fish: What kind of Jean Paul Gaultier s—t is this? What are you, a pimp storm trooper?
Diamondback: No, I’m the angel of death.
As we head into the season 1 finale, the stage is set for Luke Cage and Diamondback’s final battle. While I’m enthusiastic about an entire episode devoted to a brawl, I am also excited to see how everything shakes out and to see what happens to the neighborhood afterward.
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