Luke Cage finally had a chance to face off against Bushmaster but ends up in the river. The show is still building up Cage’s Jamaican adversary as the biggest threat he has ever faced. He still has to juggle his relationship with his father, protect Harlem and find a way to finally get Maria Dillard behind bars. The bulletproof man has a lot to work through

The opening of the sixth episode finally gives us some small glimpses into Luke’s past. At first, it seems like we only get a few returning shots from the first season until we are surprised by our first official look at his mother. We get a very emotional sequence as we see her dragged away from him. It does mean a lot that the moment that wakes him up is a vision of his father. The main focus of this season is Cage making up with his past and him finally reconnecting with his father. This small moment meant a lot as it gave him a bit more courage to confront his father and show us what happened the last time they saw each other when he was behind bars. This all builds up to them sitting down and talking about the loss of his mother and how the sin’s of the father had pushed them apart. While Erik LaRay Harvey‘s Willis Stryker was received with a mixed reception after the strong performance of Mahershala Ali, it is great to see his story arc still have a strong impact on Cage’s life.

On and On” feels like the turning point for the franchise. They sadly are too late to save Piranha and Cage must face the fact that he won’t always be able to save everyone. Missy joins him in her first act as a vigilante and kicks quite some ass. It is always great to see her get a moment to shine and it will be interesting to see where her story arc is heading. McIver finally gets his hands on Mariah’s fortune and takes over Harlem’s Paradise. He doesn’t stop there, as he infiltrates her home and ties her up. In a small moment of humanity, he frees Tilda and lets her decide what she will do as a daughter. It is these small moments that really cement his character and make him one of the most interesting villains in the MCU. We also finally find out why he hates the Stokes so much and it is quite personal.

Tilda was always an interesting addition to the series, as it is meant to show a softer side to Dillard. Yet, it seems she and Ridenhour may have more history than we thought. This small revelation may be part of a larger revelation later down the line. Shades’ life also comes to a turning point. After realizing his best friend betrayed him, he has to make an important decision. He tracks down Darius as he is meeting Ridenhour, who tries to prove his loyalty by shooting down the captain. This didn’t save his life and Shades moves on.

There is always a bit of silence after a storm. “If It Ain’t Rough, It Ain’t Right” is exactly that kind of episode. It ties up a few small subplots while building up to the latter half of the franchise. Mariah is stuck at the police precinct as Misty once again returns to the force. She is given many smaller arcs that come to fast conclusions only to set up another one. It is quite an interesting idea to keep her story arc interesting while the main plots take their time to develop. She does get a chance to take down Shades and confronts him on what happened with Darius, as their go-to lawyer gets to be as slimy as ever.

Bushmaster is showing his first signs of weakness. HIs special mixture only lasts for so long and he is running out on that what gives him his powers. This gives him some urgency as he is losing his only hope at beating Cage and killing the Stokes. We get more glimpses into the history of Harlem’s Paradise and a hint at what truly drives him forward.

Reg. E. Cathey is a fantastic addition to this season. I love the fact that he punches one of the bad guys because they shot his son, or rather his baby. We see a lot of regret in him and he is truly trying to make up for his past mistakes. Every moment with him is a delight and him being worried about his son even though he is bulletproof is just adorable. We have seen him go through so many phases, we saw him worried, angry and kind that you want him to finally get his son’s forgiveness.

For Pete’s Sake” starts off with our heroes on the run. They finally decided to ask Danny for help and use one of Rand’s latest business to hide away from the Jamaican gang. We get a closer look at Mariah’s ruthless nature and some great back-and-forths between her and Misty. The interesting part is when Cage discusses the true meaning behind Mariah’s position in Harlem. We have two very different ideas about the city they want to protect in their own way. The way she talks about Cage’s role really gives us an interesting introspective into what it means to be a hero in this day and age.

Naturally, they are trapped in a building so we get more great moments between him and his father. Him learning that sometimes a lighter touch is required to get what you want is one that also ties well with his position as a hero. Claire said that he is trying to use too much force, which escalated to him beating up Cockroach. The allegories to God and religion add some interesting philosophy to the overall storyline. Bushmaster is using something that was once believed to bring them “closer to God” only to corrupt its purpose for his own vengeful path.

Let us talk about that scene. That small moment about Tilda’s true heritage has finally been revealed and what a dark truth it is. “Family First” was a motto that haunted the Stokes for many years but there was more hidden in the past. What a strong scene and give more insight into what haunted Mariah that night when she killed Cornell. Her telling her own daughter that she never wanted her was heavy. Alfre Woodard‘s performance was incredible as she balanced anger, malice, and disgust in one short sequence.

I haven’t really talked much about the action sequences. There aren’t too many of them but they went all out this season. The true standouts are the multiple fights between Cage and Bushmaster. Their fighting styles are very distinctive which adds a nice variety to the choreography. Episode 9 especially had a nice balance between shootouts with small character moments, like Mariah hunting down some of the gangsters while mumbling to herself, and Luke’s slap-fu. It all leads to Bushmaster getting caught and giving a speech before escaping in his own unique way. The scene is quite reminiscent of when Kingpin was caught in the season finale of Daredevil.

It only took us ten episode but Danny Rand has finally made his appearance in “The Main Ingredient“. Quite surprised to see them as such good friends after they were at each other’s throat in The Defenders. He certainly has changed since his last appearance and finally graduated from his childish tantrums. Finally seeing the Heroes for Hire hang out with each other is great and they play off of each other well. Danny is more playful and Finn Jones finally gets a chance to shine. Hopefully, this is a sign that the upcoming second season of Iron Fist will continue this new direction for Danny and give us the series we were waiting for.

His appearance ties nicely into the supernatural aspects that Bushmaster brings into the season, as they help expand the MCU’s mythology. Also, this episode featured some of Danny’s best martial arts and it gives us hope that his next appearance will give us the kung-fu we were waiting for. He still somehow manages to use that magical fist to open doors but we got one fantastic action sequence of the two taking out some thugs. He also finally learned to activate his fist without charging it.

Mariah and Shades return to Harlem’s Paradise. The sleazy lawyer once again pulls through and helps her get back what belongs to her. Her better half was quite productive and got his hands on Bushmaster’s adoptive father which will start her path towards revenge. We get some interesting viewpoints on cultural histories and how it influences people.

Nandi’s betrayal actually came back, as it seemed like a rather one-off reveal. It felt a bit like a small distraction to check her character arc off. While some would say it is filler, it does help expand Misty’s character arc and make small side characters feel like people with their own agency. Her turn to “evil” was a bit sudden but it fit her arrogant personality that was highlighted throughout the season. In the end, it was a way to open up the possibility for Misty to become captain.

The sequence at the restaurant is a rather gruesome one. Mariah has finally embraced her heritage as a member of the Stokes and kills everyone in the Jamaican restaurant. Here she even uncovers that Billie was the one that got the information out to Bushmaster. It is a heavy sequence, especially because no one in this restaurant had any direct ties to what had happened to her. Even Shades is disturbed by these events and we see Mariah break down. She has lost her last sense of humanity as she burns the poor man down. It is heartbreaking and gruesome to see happen but the show pulls no punches. It makes you wonder how Shades will handle all this moving forward. The last step to taking over from Cornell is her hanging up his “Biggie Smalls” picture. This episode gave us a lot but mostly focused on giving us a moment to breathe in before we head into the end game.

VERDICT

4.5 hot yoga sessions out of 5.  The show really found its stride after it hit the halfway mark. Cage finally got to reconcile with his father, who gave us some amazingly emotional scenes. Misty gets a rather important story arc as she finds her place in Harlem, as she makes the decision if she wants to work with or outside of the law. Bushmaster is one of the franchise’s best villains and we get an amazing performance. Danny making an appearance is a great bonus and helped give us some hints at a potential future for Heroes for Hire. Mariah, however, truly steals the spotlight with her shift to a true Stokes. A dark future awaits Harlem and it will not end pretty.

ONE-SHOTS

  • Dillard’s “I want to hire you!” was quite an interesting way to end Episode 7. We had small glimpses from the last season that Cage could become a hero for hire but they really ramped it up this season.
  • Bushmaster really loves his sense of irony. The guy who called himself Piranha is eaten by piranhas?
  • “When we had coffee!” is probably going to stick for many seasons to come. Even Misty is using the phrase now!
  • The origin behind Bushmaster’s name was subtle but well done. It fits his sense of irony, as it was Bushmaster rum that led to his father’s death and conflict with the Stokes.
  • I’ll never get tired of Cage’s face slap. It reminds me of Bud Spencer films with that little sound effect.
  • Here is an in-universe nod I completely missed out on. The guys over at CBR caught this great connection to Marvel TV’s latest show Cloak and Dagger. An officer by the name of O’Reilly moved to New Orleans. An O’Reilly makes an appearance on that show and is mentioned to be from out of town, so this might be the first direct connection a Netflix show had with a show from another network. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did feature the Judas bullet from Luke Cage so we are slowly getting more connections between them.
  • “Waiting for a lightning bulb. Was praying with the devil” may be my favorite line of the season.
  • “Magic is just science we haven’t figured out yet.” It seems that Tilda went to the same school as Thor did. An interesting callback to Thor. Also makes sense given that the Iron Fist makes an appearance this season.
  • They managed to get the Black Mariah name from the comics into the show. Cheo Hodari Coker truly knows how to bring even the strangest aspects of the comics into the show.
  • Anyone else loves how Luke Cage pays more attention to keeping Hammer Industries alive in the MCU than even the films?
  • Where can I buy that Power Man yellow?
  • It’s a nice change of pace for someone other than Danny to call him the Immortal Iron Fist.
  • I confess I’d probably just rewatch Luke Cage Season 2 to hear the Jamaican accents again.
  • Turk is back and I want him to get his own mini-series. Who is with me?
  • Danny’s habit of buying real estate is finally in the show. It was a prominent habit of his in the comics so it was great seeing them include it in a creative way.

How are you enjoying the show so far? Where do you think the series is heading?