Luke Cage recap: Season 1, Episode 9
PREVIOUSLY: Luke Cage episode 8 recap
“DWYCK” might have been my favorite episode of the show so far, which surprises me since it was also the show’s longest so far. With Luke injured, the show had an opportunity to really explore Misty Knight, giving Simone Missick a chance to shine, and Mariah, who just can’t seem to escape the criminal world no matter how much she tries.
In the wake of her blow-up with Claire Temple, Misty Knight has temporarily lost her badge, and the only way for her to get it back is to sit down for a very long chat with the force’s psychologist in an interrogation room. Obviously, Misty is reluctant to open up at first, but slowly but surely she starts to let her guard down. In the end, she figures out that she flipped out on Claire because she hated not being in control, which is something that’s very important to her. However, she’s been without it recently and her encounter with Diamondback pushed her over the edge. Unfortunately, there’s a CCTV photo of it, so she keeps reliving that moment because her mind palace ability, and Missick’s meticulous control of her face, insures we understand how traumatic and upsetting that is for her.
Then, there’s Mariah, whose story in the episode also gives Woodard an opportunity to play a wide range of emotions. At the beginning of the episode, she’s in the morgue talking to Cornell’s corpse. The heartbreaking scene is shot in close-up on Woodard’s face as she recounts how Cornell came to live with her and Mama Mabel and how she tried and failed to protect him.
Following her visit to the morgue, Mariah decides she’s going to sell off Cornell’s criminal resources and legitimize the family because she doesn’t want to be like Mabel. So, she asks Domingo to arrange a meeting with the city’s other important crime bosses. The volatile Diamondback interrupts the meeting and proceeds to kill everyone there except for Domingo and Mariah, who, using her experience as a politician, quickly comes up with something to save her life. She tells Diamondback he should also legitimize his weapons-selling business by providing weapons like the Judas to the police force to help them handle “super freaks” like Luke Cage. Diamondback likes the idea and forces Mariah to help him implement the plan even though she wants nothing to do with it. Each time she gets out, they just pull her right back in.
I found this episode particularly powerful because we spent over half of it with black female characters, which isn’t a perspective you often see on TV and especially not on superhero shows. Watching exceptionally talented actresses like Woodard and Missick chew on these meaty and complicated characters is honestly a treat. It’s episodes like this that make it easy to let Luke Cage‘s general unevenness slide.
NEXT: Luke Cage makes a political statement
Episode 3 was a highlight of the show’s run because it meant something to see a black man dressed in a hoodie not die from getting shot. However, the show takes that up a notch in a very stirring scene in this episode.
After narrowly escaping Diamondback, Luke Cage finds himself wounded and limping through the city. At one point, two cops stop him because he’s a black man in a hoodie passing through a predominantly white neighborhood. Yes, there’s an APB out for Luke Cage, but they stop him even before they recognize him. This is a situation many young black men (like myself) face today, and it’s clear the show wants you think about the real world parallels because it tells part of the scene via a dashboard camera. However, once the cops recognize him, the show goes back into superhero mode. Seeing no way out, Luke Cage tries to escape and in the process flings a cop onto the car, crushing the camera. Someone leaks the dashboard camera to the internet and it goes viral, which surprises one of the minor characters because apparently he doesn’t use the internet nearly enough.
What’s interesting, though, is that Luke Cage also makes sure to show compassion for police officers. First, we have Luke, who sees one of the cops about to take a shot and shields another one to make sure he isn’t hit by a ricochet from his body. (Unfortunately, the only clip that goes viral is Luke tossing the cop). Then, later in the episode, Misty opens up to Ridley about what it’s like to do her job. “People hate us until they need us, and I hate that. But, I love it, too,” she says. She does her job every day — she “stalks justice” — even though there are people who want nothing to do with her, and that’s something honorable that the show doesn’t want us to forget.
As the episode ends, Luke Cage and Claire manage to track down Dr. Noah Burstein, the prison doctor who put Luke in that healing bath, because they need to find a way to get the Judas bullets out of him. Some science mumbo jumbo later and they end up dipping his body in a vat of acid. The episode ends with Luke going into cardiac arrest.
- The show still needs to do some work on Shades. His ambition seems to have come out of nowhere. Was this what he had in mind when Diamondback sent him to keep an eye on Cornell?
- That final scene with the acid reminded me of that time Clark Kent went in that similarly designed Kryptonite memory machine on Smallville.
- “You gotta go big pharma on this s—. You invent the disease, then you sell the cure,” says Mariah to Diamondback as she explains her plan to him.
- I’ll admit that I’ve been remiss in highlighting the phenomenal work Simone Missick has been doing up to this point.