Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

A blast from the past hits Luke Cage

October 03, 2016 at 10:03 PM EDT

PREVIOUSLY: Luke Cage episode 7 recap

The twists keep coming in this jam-packed episode of Luke Cage. While at the same time cementing Mariah as a Big Bad, “Blowin’ Up the Spot” also introduced what looks to be the series’ ultimate Big Bad: Diamondback. And, he makes quite the entrance. 

The episode takes its time revealing this, but Diamondback, a.k.a. Willis Stryker, is the one who shot Luke with the Judas at the end of the last episode. And, their beef goes way deeper than just Luke Cage messing with Cottonmouth’s business. It turns out Luke and Stryker grew up together, and Stryker has been behind some of the misfortune in his life, including his torture in prison. For reasons that have yet to be explained, Luke feels guilty for doing something to Stryker, who accuses Luke of leaving him to rot in the gutter.

In his first appearance on the show, Diamondback seems to share part of Kilgrave’s sadism. He has a big smile on his face as he chases Luke and Claire through the streets of Harlem and seems almost gleeful when he disarms Misty Knight and prepares to execute her in an alley. (He changes his mind at the last minute because he wants to make Luke suffer.) Erik LaRay Harvey plays Diamondback very broadly and seems to be having a lot of fun menacingly taunting Luke with Bible verses. His scene-chewing performance is definitely at odds with the show’s tone, but I like how much he contrasts with Luke’s stoicism, which is heightened by the fact that he’s very wounded.

“I gave you wings…I sent you to hell and you come back with superpowers,” is just one example of Diamondback’s theatrical dialogue. 

Their chase eventually leads them to the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights (we ain’t in Harlem anymore, baby!), and they finally come to blows. I continue to be impressed with the show because its fight sequences are still interesting and it’s branching out from just having Luke throw people around. Since he’s wounded, he’s forced to face off with Stryker in semi-hand-to-hand combat, and Stryker is definitely a trained martial artist, which makes the scene more dynamic than other fights we’ve seen so far on the show. 

Eventually, their fight returns to the streets. Right before he takes another shot, Stryker tells Luke he’s his brother, which is news to Luke’s ears. But, before he has time process it, Diamondback fires off another Judas round and Luke falls into a conveniently placed garbage truck and is whisked away to places unknown.

NEXT: Misty Knight smells something fishy 

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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.
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