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Mike Colter as Luke Cage (left) and Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard (right). Photo courtesy of Netflix.

**This review contains spoilers for “Soul Brother” and events that occurred in Marvel Netflix shows prior**

“What’s my name?”

Luke is back, and much like Jessica Jones, he’s in the public spotlight.  The big difference here is that he very much enjoys the attention, and is a man of the people.  Luke is essentially his own brand. A hero fighting to clean the streets, an idol to many. But why is Luke doing all of this?  As he put it, it really is an endless struggle—like punching water. He’s on the verge of being pushed out of the barbershop, and his cash is running low.  People all around him won’t stop nagging him to use his abilities and influence to make money for himself. For those at all familiar with the comics, this is clearly a set-up for a Heroes For Hire situation down the line.  This is a really exciting prospect because the idea of the show becoming a Luke and Danny team-up would be amazing. Sadly for now though, Luke is wary of making people pay for his help—even if that does make his life harder.

Speaking of making his life harder, Reg E. Cathey joins the cast as Luke’s father.  His presence is immediate, and strong. You could feel his character radiate from the screen as he rehearsed his pastoral speech in front of the mirror.  That’s not to mention the tense meeting between father and son. There’s a deep, fractured history between the two of them that I look forward to exploring more.  It’s hard not to note all of the recent (and upcoming) parental themes in these Marvel Netflix shows.

While the episode caught us up with our cast and introduced us to new ones, nothing much happened.  It was a lot of talking and set-up, without many inciting incidents occurring. Not that there weren’t cool action moments:  that introduction with Luke Cage busting up the dealers in the opening minutes was fantastic. It shows how far the show has come in portraying his powers in a fight (something they struggled with in the past).  While those moments were cool, I think a little too much of the episode was spent establishing Luke’s idolization within the community. Had they dialed it back a tiny bit, they could have given more time to the conflict of the season and given that more momentum.

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Marvel’s Luke Cage

After the events of The Defenders, both Misty and Claire are struggling with the fallout.  Misty is directionless without being on the force, and the loss of her arm drags her down (don’t worry Misty, you’ll get a new arm soon!).  It doesn’t take long for Misty to be led right back to the force, as a familiar face from her past shows up on her doorstep. As for Claire, she and Luke are still at it, but she is haunted with how close she came to losing her life.  At the same time, she feels that she should still be allowed to help and take the risks that Luke and Misty take on a daily basis. Besides Dontrell’s reintroduction into Misty’s life, not much happened for both of them. As was the course of this episode, they were mainly just re-established to us.

Mariah’s reintroduction showed us that she is aiming to get out of the game, but in a peaceful manner.  She wants to hand over their arms business to someone of stable mind, that will keep the peace in Harlem and the surrounding areas.  An oddly noble desire coming from her, but it does make sense given the events of last season. Also by her side is still Shades, who clearly seems to be enjoying his seat of power by Mariah. For me, Mariah’s retreat from the game is the most intriguing element of the plot so far.  Clearly she won’t be able to go legit that easily—especially when Bushmaster has something to say about it.

Bushmaster…we don’t know much about him, but if his last scene is anything to go by, he is going to be one hell of a threat to Harlem and Luke.  I mean, that kill shot with the knife across the face was brutal–it could even be near the top of the most violent MCU moments. Not only that, but he is super-powered, thick skinned, and extremely agile.  How he put his remaining men in their place, under his command, was a badass moment. Needless to say, the first impression of him is a good one. While I’m not sure he can fill the hole left by Cottonmouth, he already shows signs of being on a similar playing field—and not a dud like Diamondback.

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Theo Rossi as Shades (left) and Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard (right). Photo courtesy of Netflix.

While Luke Cage started the season off with a slow start, there is plenty of potential going forward. The few action sequences were a clear improvement, and Mike Colter has really found his stride as Luke Cage. The build to his Hero For Hire status is going to be an exciting one, and Bushmaster looks like a terrifying and formidable foe for our Judas bulletproof man.

What did you guys think about the episode? Make sure to leave your thoughts down below! Please be courteous– don’t talk about any details or spoilers from future episodes.  Also make sure to check out our Luke Cage Season 2 HUB to keep up to date on all of our reviews for the new season!

Bonus Notes:

  • There is a lot of parental themes happening in these recent (and upcoming) Netflix shows
  • Jessica Jones went an entire season without mentioning the fallout of the Defenders. I’m very pleased that it is one of the first things that is addressed in the episode, with Matt mentioned by name.
  • I guess since we saw Hulk’s butt, Netflix allowed Luke’s butt to make an appearance.
  • Rest In Peace Reg E. Cathey.
  • I really do like the idea of drugs being stamped with Luke Cage’s name on them.


You can catch Luke Cage Season 2 available now on Netflix.