Luke Cage Season 2 Review
Luke Cage’s second season begins with Cage hailed as a hero and celebrity of Harlem. A great weight was lifted when Luke’s name was cleared, but now he faces a new threat while also dealing with the disdain he has for his father who wants to reconcile.
Misty Knight‘s plight focuses on her crushed psyche caused be the loss of her arm in The Defenders and the fallout of being Rafael Scarfe’s partner in Luke Cage season 1. Simone Missick delivers another great performance. The late Reg E. Cathey portrays Luke’s father (James Lucas). He has wonderful chemistry with Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and the deep emotional moments between them help explain why Cage is off his game.
Meanwhile Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) and Hernan “Shades” Alvarez (Theo Rossi) are trying to go legit by selling their guns and buying Atreus Plastics. A company that is about to make money hand over fist. With the help of some insider trading, they hope their machination will come to reality. The development of this arc shows different sides of the villains in season 1 while introducing new ones; including one of the main antagonists, John McIver aka Bushmaster. There were a decent amount of people who felt the second half of season 1 took a dive after the death of Cottonmouth. If you share that opinion you can relax, Bushmaster is that dude. His hatred for Mariah’s family is so nefarious, it will intrigue you. McIver is a scene stealer who when his side of the story is told he becomes sympathetic. These type of antagonists are always the best. It’s easy to debut a new villain, the true challenge is making sure the character isn’t one-dimensional. Indeed, Bushmaster is “The stone that the builder refused”.
I enjoyed the variety of villains in this 13 episode story. Mariah, Shades, and even Comanche (Thomas Q. Jones) were extremely well written. The interaction between Shades and Comanche in the barbershop had one of the most surprising and subtle reveals in these Marvel/Netflix shows. Season 2 is also more twisted than the last. If you thought Mariah was dark in season 1, you ain’t seen nothing yet. She’s even colder and more manipulative. Her scene with her daughter Tilda (you’ll know it when you see it) is beyond evil. It takes Mariah to a different plateau of disturbing. In other words, actress Alfre Woodard owned that shit.
Luke’s anger is more prevalent. Dealing with his estranged father, how society sees him, and trying to protect Harlem starts to take its toll. The emotional argument with Claire Temple tosses gasoline on the fire. Luke explains his understandable frustrations while Claire does her best in vain to be the voice of reason. As Black man I related to Luke’s anger and felt actor Mike Colter nailed the scene. There’s a plethora of people who can relate to their back and forth; the climax and Claire’s reaction (good job Rosario Dawson) will tug at your heart strings.
Season 2 doesn’t rush things. Before Misty Knight gets her new arm, her arc successfully develops her more. Seeing Claire and Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) try to help their friend was a nice touch. Speaking of Colleen, There’s a nice Daughters of the Dragon tease for nerds like myself. Unlike season 2 of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage’s sophomore season doesn’t forget about the events of previous Marvel/Netflix shows. Every member of the Defenders is mentioned. I want to be rewarded for watching the other shows and I enjoyed this season more because it was not only done, it was done well.
One of the most enjoyable things to happen in this season is how Iron Fist (Finn Jones) was portrayed. The character is now likable to the masses. He’s no longer naive, flawed, and conflicted. He’s now chill, hip, and surprisingly funny. Every time he’s done talking, you’ll wish he’d continue. Seeing him team up with Luke Cage will make you wish they had their own show together. We might not get a Heroes For Hire series but we’ll probably see another team up down the line. It took only one episode to make Danny Rand entertaining to the masses. Something former showrunner Scott Buck couldn’t do during the entire first season of Iron Fist. Danny was such a pleasant surprise that if he was in this season more, I would have rated it the best out of all the Netflix/Marvel shows.
And yes I have ranked them…
- Daredevil Season 2
- Daredevil Season 1
- Luke Cage Season 2
- Punisher Season 1
- The Defenders Season 1
- Luke Cage Season 1
- Jessica Jones Season 1
- Jessica Jones Season 2
- Iron Fist Season 1
How the show handles Luke’s war on two fronts is a well written dynamic with story arcs that may seem slow to some, but payoff at well their conclusion. Season 2 is socially aware and doesn’t shy away from showing how Luke feels society perceives him. His internal struggle isn’t forced and is easy to comprehend. The supporting cast is phenomenal and it was nice to see them have their time to shine. You could argue they are given more time than Cage himself. My only gripes are some of the special effects could have been better, and more Danny Rand would’ve been delightful. There are some themes that will surprise a lot of people and the ending is something that even I didn’t expect. Season 2 of Luke Cage proves Marvel still has a lot left in the tank.