Luke Cage Marvel Netflix Television

Luke Cage Season 2, Episode 2: “Straighten It Out” Review

Parental resentment is all the rage. Come check out our review of Luke Cage Season 2, Episode 2: "Straighten It Out"!
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Mike Colter as Luke Cage. Photo taken via screenshot of the official Luke Cage season two trailer.

**This review contains spoilers for “Straighten It Out” and events that occurred in Marvel Netflix shows prior**

“Hate only wears you down…it does not wear down your enemy.”

Luke’s hatred of his father is affecting him more than he realized, and the closing shot of him coming to this realization was a powerful one.  It wasn’t until he had a young boy’s father near death that he realized that his own anger and resentment was eating away at him since his father’s return. This anger has also been fueling his mindset that he is indestructible.  He feels driven to become the public figure he has become, largely because his father doesn’t believe him capable of being successful. Even after being seriously injured by weapons–disproving his indestructibility–Luke is still bent on upholding that unbreakable image. Claire pointed out, however, that his resentment toward his father may just be his new Judas Bullet.

Luke’s inability to move past his feelings about his father really got to Claire. I understand Claire pushing Luke to try to get past it all.  I do. Anyone in that situation would. But Luke literally blames his father for every bad thing that has ever happened in his life. It’s not something he can just snap his fingers and get over.  Claire should realize this, and it shouldn’t be causing this rift that it seems to be causing between the two of them. Perhaps what’s bothering her more is Luke’s anger generally, rather than the specific target.  

As for the plot, the pieces started moving more and more. Luke and the crew are piecing together Mariah’s buyers and actively seeking out the players.  This led to Luke meeting two of the three potential buyers, both essentially being taken off the board by the episode’s end. I do enjoy the ethically grey area when it comes to Mariah’s motivations. She wants to peacefully offload her illegal arms trade to go legit. It’s almost a goal we want her to achieve. But Luke can’t see past the fact that Mariah is Mariah, and that she has an arms trade to sell in the first place. In a sense, Luke is actively seeking to keep Mariah from going straight. It’s a very intricate and intriguing plot line.

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Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard. Photo taken via screenshot of the official Luke Cage season two trailer.

Luke is not the only one dealing with parental resentment and hate.  In this episode, Mariah met with her estranged daughter. Mariah is trying to reignite a connection with her as a PR stunt, but so far, we can only superficially understand the resentment between both parties.  I don’t fully understand why Tilda came back to her mother at the end of the episode, as she seemed very dismissive of her in the shop and showed very little interest in humoring her. We’ll have to see where it goes from here, but it would seem her decision was influenced by seeing Bushmaster purchase those special ingredients.

Speaking of Bushmaster, his power source is still a mystery. But now we know he essentially has an herbal routine that either strengthens or recharges his strength and abilities. On top of that, we know that he seriously wants both the heart (Luke) and the crown (Mariah) of Harlem. Though his return to the area didn’t seem to be taken to kindly by Anansi at the Jamaican restaurant. There is some further backstory there I look forward to seeing.

As for Shades, things did not go well for him in this episode.  He snapped. On the spur of the moment, he pulled out his gun and shot Arturo, their needed buyer, point blank in the head. His rash decision is going to have some serious consequences, and his influence with Mariah will be hurt. That influence is already being weakened thanks to the return of his daughter.

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

Misty didn’t get to do too much in this episode. Really it was more of the same for her, as she tried to establish that she was okay; that being at work wasn’t weird; and that people need to stop asking her if she is okay. Really though, a vast majority of the detectives she works with are complete asses. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Misty split off from the force permanently and do it all Luke’s way.

A strong thematic episode brought to light the power of anger, and how destructive it can be if left unchecked. Luke and Claire’s relationship is being tested as Luke’s resentment towards his father is affecting every aspect of his life.  Mariah’s quest to go legit hit even more roadblocks, and Bushmaster is winding up a punch. Something tells me he’s going to give Luke that test real soon.

What did you guys think about the episode? Make sure to leave your thoughts down below! Please be courteous by not talking 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:

  • I am loving the continuous reference to the events of The Defenders. It makes it all feel important, unlike how Jessica Jones Season 2 handled it.
  • I like the lightly threaded plot of Bobby setting up sponsorships for Luke in the background.

 

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

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