Here we are, episode 11, “Now You’re Mine,” approaching the end of everyone’s favorite new series, and just like Netflix’s other hit hero dramas Daredevil and Jessica Jones, these next few episodes will prove to be the most exciting.
We’re at a point in the series now where everything kicks into high gear. Within the next three hours of footage, Luke will find and defeat most, if not all, of the villains, be prepared to become a Defender, and probably hook up with Misty Knight or Claire Temple. The show’s pacing issues are significantly less troubling in this episode, as we’re finally getting down to the brass tax of it all. That being said, there were still a handful of scenes that lost my attention. So far, Luke Cage has excelled at telling a meaningful and culturally relevant story about a modern day black superhero in Harlem, and while Luke will remain a modern black hero throughout this episode, race took a back seat. Addressing Luke’s race is one of the show’s strongest assets, so to see that fade away is a bit disappointing, but awesome action scenes we’ve been craving since Jessica Jones, and the anticipation of the inevitable showdowns to come are more than adequate compensation.
The episode picks up right where the last one left off, Luke shielding a wounded Misty behind the bar of Harlem’s Paradise during a spectacular shootout. Guests flee for their lives while friends of Diamondback are attempting to light up the bullet-proof man. Misty’s been shot, Claire is captured, and Luke is trapped in the kitchen, effectively making this one of the most thrilling opening sequences we’ve seen from Marvel’s television programs.
To add to the heightened situation, we start to see the bad guys unravel a bit. Shades and Diamondback disagree several times throughout the episode, hinting at a possible switching-of-sides later on in the show. Until this episode, I wasn’t a fan of Shades, but this one really showed that he has a spine and is a smart guy, which totally boosted him up the scale.
This episode also allows for fantastic performances from Rosario Dawson and Simone Missick. Dawson received more character development than she has since the first few episodes of Daredevil, and we finally got to see a softer side of Misty, which only made me like her more than I already do. These two ladies are exactly what the MCU needs, strong female characters that can carry storylines on their own.
In perhaps one of the spookiest scenes in the show, Diamondback forces Councilman Damon Boone to flip through his personal bible. Boone finds it annotated and dissected beyond belief, the margins littered with notes and highlighter streaked across the pages. It’s scenes like this one, where the action speaks louder than words, that make this show so great. The scene is meant to startle both characters and audience, which it does more than any scene in the movies ever has.
Blake Tower, from Daredevil season two, makes his first appearance in the series in this episode, which helps to build the world that is the MCU. Seeing characters crossover like this (or even on a small scale, like Jeri Hogarth popping up in Daredevil season two — one of my favorite MCU cameos) is why we are invested in the MCU. Even though he’s a small character, he plays a decent role in the narrative, so I can appreciate the attention he gets.
Noticeably absent from this episode is the music. While there is of course music playing underneath some of the more intense scenes, the only diegetic music we get is Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” It fits in with the plot nicely, as both Luke and Diamondback are the children of a preacher, but sacrificing the music turned out to be a bit of a mistake, as I missed it throughout the episode.
Also absent was the consequences of race as mentioned above. The show has done a fantastic job of implying and outright stating the consequence of being a black person, much less, a black superhero. This episode, which doesn’t address it at all, felt a bit out of place. On the other hand, not addressing the racial difference between Luke Cage and Matt Murdock serves as a tool and indicator of equality in its own right, but at this point, the show should be utilizing the excellent balance they’ve already established.
The viewer satisfaction that always comes with the end of a superhero story started to come about at the end of this episode too, as Shades is arrested. Shades never proved to be much of a menace, more of a supposedly threatening presence, but him being locked up—and his signature glasses being smashed—were immensely satisfying to watch.
4.5 / 5 – This episode provides some great content. We are finally getting to see Luke in action scenes worthy of his powers (like several thugs raining down bullets on him from above, busting through walls, throwing away thug after thug like their used tissues, etc.), we got to see the women of the MCU play a hugely important role, and we got a bit more information about mysterious Diamondback. That being said, I feel that the absence of the music we were promised would rule the show, as well as a deviation from the implications of being a black superhero take away just the smallest amount (a half point, to be exact) from the episode. Plus, the episode lacks Alfre Woodard’s Mariah Dillard, one of the greatest characters in the show taking away from the villainous empire the show has set up so far. Otherwise, the show was great. As usual, the cinematography was fantastic, and time and time again, I felt like I knew Harlem, despite never having been there. The actor’s portrayals were great, especially Simone Missick’s and Rosario Dawson’s; they proved they’ve earned their coveted spots as MCU women.
- The one liners in this episode were better than ever. Lines like “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Willis” (Shades), “Your family is jacked up.” (Misty), “Me, medical shit; you, bullet-proof shit.” (Claire), and “Bye, Felicia.” (Diamondback) bring a humor to the series that until now has been stiff and even occasionally uncomfortable.
- Misty’s arm is injured badly, having been shot straight through near an artery (as far as Dr. Luke Cage can tell), and several times, the loss of her arm is threatened. In the comics, Misty has a bionic arm that gives her mild superpowers, similar to the Winter Soldier. This all may just be one big Easter egg, but hopefully, it’s a sign that Misty is on her way to becoming a superhero herself.
- Claire is called “Night Nurse” by one of Diamondback’s thugs. This is an obvious nod to her role in the comics, which it seems she’ll be fulfilling as she cares for more superheroes.
- Blake Tower’s mention of Frank Castle helps to tie the MCU together. Easter eggs like this always help to make an episode a bit more exciting and rewarding.
- Claire and Misty’s newfound friendship is refreshing. As the MCU’s list of strong female characters grows, it’s nice to see some of them getting along, especially two characters that don’t seem to get along with many other people. Not to mention, they kicked Shades’ ass in a major way, which is always fun to see.
- Claire stepping on Shades’ shades at the end of the episode makes her that much more of a badass, and was pretty hysterical. Whatever will he do now that we can always see his eyes?