Greetings and salutations folks.
So everybody and their mama is talking about Netflix’s new superhero series ‘Luke Cage’ and, you know what, it is pretty great. I already did a review of episodes 1-2 (you can read that here) so for this post I will be reviewing the other 11 episodes.
If you have not completed binging the series then this SPOILER ALERT is for you. Still here? Well let’s do this! Here is my ‘Luke Cage’ Season 1 Review in four easy to chew and digest slices:
#1 The Origin of Power Man (Episode 3-5)
In my original review I mentioned that the first couple of episodes were action-lite. Well they made up for that and then some with Episode 3 and Cage’s all out attack on the Crispus Attucks building. We had scenes from it in the trailer but Sweet Christmas it was awesome. Tense, action packed and just overflowing with cool. I may be stoned for saying this but I enjoyed it slightly more than the famous ‘Daredevil’ hallway scene. And we also had the murder of Chico by dirty cop Scarfe which I did see coming a mile away but was still well done.
At the end of that episode Stokes pulls out a rocket launcher (where does he get those fabulous toys) and blows the hell out of the building containing Cage and his landlady Connie Lin. Episode 4 we get the origin of Cage and oodles and oodles of fan service. I thoroughly enjoyed all the prison stuff, Cage’s relationship with Reva and getting his powers. And putting on his original costume and remarking “I look ridiculous” was just the best. Things were a bit slow in Episode 5 but we did get Cage’s biting eulogy at Pop’s funeral where he threw more shade at Stokes than an awning.
#2 The Judas and the Traitor (Episode 6-8)
In Episode 6 Scarfe gets too big for his britches and decides to blackmail Stokes. Very…bad…idea. He gets a bullet for his troubles and Cage has to go all Clint Eastwood in The Gauntlet or Bruce Willis in 16 Blocks to protect Scarfe, though he still got dead in the end. This edge of your seat episode was one of my favourite of the season.
Stokes gets arrested but in the following episode gets released faster than you can say “spin doctor”. We also get a Wilson Fisk mention to whet our appetites. I liked the flashback with Moriah Dillard, Stokes and ruthless mobster Mama Mabel. Netflix continues its trend of giving dimension and motivation to their villains and Stokes’ especially was quite tragic. And then Cage gets shot with the Chitauri bullet/Judas bullet (the alien bad guys from the first Avengers/Jesus’ traitor from the Bible) from what I thought was a random thug but would later learn was Willis Stryker aka Bible verse quoting crime boss Diamondback. I found him a less compelling villain than Stokes but he was not too bad and did psychopathic well.
And then – shocker of shockers – Dillard flies into a rage and murders her cousin Stokes. I was a fan of Mahershala Ali’s performance and was sad to see him go, but it was necessary to move the plot along and advance Dillard’s fall into darkness. In the following episode we see Claire Temple trying to help our wounded hero. Cage battles Stryker and he hits him with another bullet and the revelation that he is his brother. Whaaaaaat?
#3 Worst Hot Tub Ever! (Episode 9-11)
I will fast forward a bit through Episodes 9 and 10. Claire and Cage go on a road trip and find the shady scientist Dr Burstein that gave him his powers. The Claire Temple character is what Agent Coulson was to Phase One of the Marvel movies and I was glad she got so much play in ‘Luke Cage’ compared to her appearances in ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones’. She really steps up and saves Cage’s life – that acid bath scene was difficult to watch – and she encourages him to stop running and be the hero he was meant to be. We also learn that Reva knew all along that she was going to put Cage through the experiment. Naughty, naughty. I have a feeling that whoever Reva and Burstein were working for will be revealed in ‘Luke Cage’ Season 2. I was not a fan of the scenes with Misty Knight and the psychologist as I found the former had gotten real annoying at this point.
We also saw Stryker doing his best Cage impression and fooling the police into buying his Judas 2.0 bullets. The police harassment of young black men in their search for Cage and the beating of Lonnie is a clear discourse on what is happening in the US right now. I was glad this was handled with subtlety but the point was not lost. And, of course, Dillard spins it for her own gain.
Episode 11 was a lot of fun with the hostage situation at Harlem’s Paradise and I could watch Cage clout fools down any day of the week. It is hilarious. Knight also gets shot in her arm – an Easter egg for her losing her arm and getting a bionic one in the comics – bonds with Claire and finally stops acting like a complete nag. Props to Mike Colter (the actor who plays Luke Cage) for the arrest scene as you could feel the pain he felt at the possibility of returning to jail.
#4 The Snake and the Cage (Episode 12 and finale)
In Episode 11 Cage is on the run from the police and runs into who else but rapper Method Man. The scene in the shop was so funny and I had a time with Meth’s “Bulletproof Love” rap. I have not mentioned super cool Shades yet but his murder of Zip and the other goons was beautifully brutal. We went back to the start at Pop’s Barbershop and the parlay between Cage and Dillard/Shades. And then Stryker breaks up the party dressed in a costume from Hammer Industries (remember Justin Hammer from the not so great Iron Man 2) and reminiscent of his look from the comics.
After switching the main villain in the second act ‘Luke Cage’ switches it up again with its finale episode by having the final battle at the start and not the end. We have the climactic showdown between Cage and Stryker at the start and it is visceral, bone crunching and worth the wait. There was also an added dimension to it with the flashbacks to when they were teenagers and the theme of the sins of the father was well explored.
The rest of the episode was mostly a wrapping up except for the vicious murder of Candace by Shades and Cage’s inspiring speech which was thankfully not too preachy. I thought Cage and Claire had good chemistry but I was hoping that they would not get together just because she also had a brief thing with Daredevil aka Matt Murdock. We don’t want her to be a hero groupie now. We end things with Shady Dr Burstein attending to Stryker in hospital – that will come to no good – and Cage heading back to Seagate Prison to face his past.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of ‘Luke Cage’. You had the action from ‘Daredevil’ and the deeper messages of a ‘Jessica Jones’ with a strong black superhero protagonist and a mostly black cast. And, with the current state of the world, that is not only the hero we deserve but the one we need right now.
Rating: ‘Luke Cage’ Season 1 get 3.75/4 Sweet Christmases.
So what did you think of ‘Luke Cage’ Season One? And how does it compare to ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Jessica Jones’? Feel free to comment below and if you enjoyed this you can share with your peeps. Sharing is caring.
For my ‘Luke Cage’ Episode 1-2 review you can click here and for my look at the ‘Luke Cage’, ‘Iron Fist’ and ‘Defenders’ teaser trailers you can click here. And for more super powered reviews you can check back redmangoreviews Monday to Saturday for new posts or follow me on Twitter @suprememango012 for updates.
Julien got your back like a chiropractor. l8rs