Luke Cage Key Art

Luke Cage Season 2 Key Art. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

**This review contains spoilers for “They Reminisce Over You” and events that occurred in Marvel Netflix shows prior**

“I’ll enforce the unwritten rules, while you enforce the written ones.”

Bravo. This finale really impressed me as it went into bold and surprising directions and didn’t devolve into a silly fist fight in the middle of the streets with a mediocre villain. No, instead it focused on the hard-hitting and unseen consequences of locking up Mariah Dillard, the woman who kept the barrier around Harlem strong–a barrier that immediately began to crumble in her absence. It was haunting seeing the sudden violence erupt around Harlem. Some would say it might even have been overkill—a little too drastic. But it does make sense. With the chaos that has ensued all season with the Jamaicans and Bushmaster, the vacuum left by Mariah was the last straw. The walls around Harlem started to crumble, and there was nothing the police could do about it.

Luke made some drastic choices in order to broker a peace. His brute force wasn’t going to be enough to fix the chaos and get Harlem back to working order.  First, Luke had to barter a peace treaty with Rosalie Carbone. Despite briefly seeing her last episode, we were rather suddenly introduced to the threat she presented in this episode.  Luke essentially became a crime boss in order to quell the chaos and rebuild the wall around Harlem that Mariah and the Stokes family had built–something that quickly got him kicked out of his own barbershop.  Luke may have created peace, but did he go about it the wrong way?

One of my favorite parts about the episode was how Bushmaster ended his journey.  He was defeated. He could not personally complete his vengeance. Instead, he chose to leave Harlem while he could, with what family he had left. But he hadn’t forgotten about Mariah Stokes:  he knew that a fire burned within Tilda. We watch Tilda fall into darkness in order to erase the Stokes name from existence forever. Tilda’s journey has been unexpected and fantastic, as she naturally—and understandably—turned against her mother (and her family) for the final time.  The fact that she was willing to actually kill her for the wrongs she caused was a big step. Tilda has made it clear that she believes her mother to be true evil, someone that deserves her fate. It looks like Tilda Johnson isn’t shying away from her villainess comic counterpart, and I’m sure we will be seeing plenty of her in the future–especially since she doesn’t seem so thrilled with Harlem’s Paradise going to Luke over herself, something that will likely pit the two of them against each other.

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

While it wasn’t too hard to see coming, Mariah’s life came to an end as her daughter locked lips with her in their final moments together.  Before she got that kiss of death though, we did get some great final scenes with Mariah and those around her. Seeing her dragged through court was empowering, and watching her fall felt good—even if it started to blow back on Harlem. We even got to witness Black Mariah’s fury one last time as she cleaned house and briefly made a name for herself in prison. She was vicious and merciless, and she cut down anyone that once had a connection to her. She embodied the worst parts of the Stokes family right up until her death. Thankfully not only did we get a great scene between her and Tilda, but we got fantastic closure scenes with both Shades and Luke.  The Luke scene in particular was great. He may be a hero, but he was certainly happy to watch Mariah suffer and feel the pain of death coming—especially when he was powerless to stop it from happening.

Now I’ve really enjoyed Shades this season.  He has been exceptionally strong in both performance and character arc, an arc that came to a soft conclusion this week. He knew his name on the streets was done.  He may never have wanted out of the life, but he couldn’t stand for Mariah breaking the street codes and causing chaos. He even tried to help Luke fix the current state of Harlem, which gave us a fantastic scene between the two of them.  They rarely interact one-on-one on screen, so we were treated with a tense and powerful scene as Shades tried his best to give Luke information to fix Harlem. While he did ultimately give Luke intel on Rosalie, Luke still threatened Shades with death if he walked in ever again without an invitation (Looks like Luke’s anger isn’t quite in check yet). Even though Shades was able to thwart an assassination attempt and get his final blow to Mariah in before her death, things didn’t quite go his way.  Mariah’s death led to the destruction of his immunity deal, leading a rather cocky Misty Knight to stroll up and lock him away. Things really did go well for Misty this season didn’t they?

The episode concluded in a big way.  To me, how they positioned Luke Cage is one of the boldest moves that any of the Marvel Netflix shows has done.  Luke Cage is now the sole owner of Harlem’s Paradise, taking the role that once belonged to both Cottonmouth and Mariah—his sworn enemies.  Now he is in their position of power. He is the the man left standing to protect Harlem, but he stands upon a corrupted podium. It makes everyone uneasy to see the hero of Harlem in such a position.  You know things are questionable when Luke sends Claire away, and even Misty made sure to let Luke know that she is not afraid to take him down if things go badly.

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Mike Colter as Luke Cage. Photo taken via screenshot of the official Luke Cage season two trailer.

Luke Cage rounded out it’s second season with a fantastic episode that made bold and surprising moves. Status quo’s were shifted dramatically, and we were left on a really uneasy note. Is Luke’s new crown a good thing? I mean, the show has essentially just made it’s Resident Harlem hero a crime boss. That’s pretty daring. The hero of Harlem has now become the King of Harlem—for better or worse.

What did you guys think about the episode? Make sure to leave your thoughts down below!  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:

  • Early on in the episode, it was a nice detail seeing Luke enter the Barbershop still smoking from gunfights in the street.
  • They shouldn’t have had Luke Cage say to burn it all to the ground when being offered the club. Because then we immediately cut to him owning the the packed club. It just came off rather confusingly.
  • It’s interesting for the season to have so much build up for a Heroes For Hire type of situation, but then end the season with Luke in no place close to even going down that avenue.   
  • Luke got the beloved crown shot.
  • Is it really that hard to put Luke Cage in a yellow/orange T-Shirt?  I feel like it’s the easiest thing in the world—except not once did we see that in his wardrobe this season.


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