While the first three episodes started things off a bit slow, the next three really picked up the pace. Mariah desperately tries to escape from the family business, but that becomes exceedingly difficult as her rivalry with John ‘Bushmaster’ McIver comes into the forefront. Misty struggles with doing her job the right way when she’s prevented from conducting detective work because of her injury. And once the conflict between Mariah and Bushmaster get’s out of hand causing a gang war on the streets of Harlem, Luke finds himself the middle protecting Mariah’s enthusiastic money man.
It’s hard to live up to Cottonmouth last season, but so far Bushmaster has been very compelling. Him being from Jamaica adds an international and immigrant perspective to the show. The scene between him and his restaurant friend in episode 6 was really powerful. Bushmaster has the view that it shouldn’t matter what other people think of them, but his friend reminds him the the rest of the Jamaicans have had to work to survive in such a cruel place. He reminds Bushmaster that you can’t change the past, just build something for the next generation. An outlook that Mariah shares. Bushmaster also offers a physically imposing threat to Luke because of his abilities and skills as a fighter. Mustafa Shakir had big shoes to fill, but he’s done a great job balancing the ruthless gangster with the friendly Jamaican greeting friends he hasn’t seen in years.
Tensions between Mariah and Bushmaster have gotten so high that there’s now a gang war in Harlem. During their conversation in the club in episode 4, Bushmaster asks if Mariah knows the name of Quincy McIver. It’s possible that Mabel or someone screwed his father or grandfather out of their business and he’s held a grudge ever since. It’s still unclear what exactly Mariah’s family did to Bushmaster’s, but I don’t think it really matters too much. And Bushmaster’s grudge continues to make things difficult for Mariah who’s trying to get out of the family business. Part of Mariah’s desire to get out seems to motivated by her longing to reconnect with her daughter Tilda, played by Gabrielle Dennis.
But it seems that Mariah tying to go clean is also motivated by a genuine urge to do good. She’s acutely aware of the decades of pain caused by her family. Pain that she’s helped inflict. However, Mariah doesn’t regret what she’s done, but looks toward a brighter future. When showing off the Family First initiative, Mariah compares Mama Mabel to several historic and altruistic black women. But Tilda points out the irony that Mama Mabel was a sex-trafficker. Mariah uses that opportunity to explain to Tilda what she’s trying to accomplish, saying, “You want to talk about what we came from? I want to talk about what we’re made of! Focus on our bright future, not our painful past.” This line of thought is quite convenient for Mariah because it absconds her of her past sins, but it also parallels Pop’s philosophy of “Always Forward, Never Backward.”
They dealt with Luke’s concussion after his fight with Bushmaster in a really cool way. Luke’s affected by what happened for the rest of the episode and not just physically, the video continues to him. He’s also still dealing with everything that went down with Claire. And being famous certainly doesn’t help. Luke’s fame also feels weird, but it’s definitely become a big part of his life. You can see that he’s uncomfortable with it when D.W. was selling the video of him getting beat up. But it’s really cool to see his fame dealt with in a realistic way with getting brand deals and reality TV offers. Luke being a modest guy, who never sought the spotlight, turns them down. But it’s less easy to refuse these offers once he needs the money.
Luke finally gets faced with the consequences of his actions when Cockroach tries to sue him. Although, it soon becomes clear Cockroach is faking the severity of his injuries. But Luke did assault the man, albeit defending the guys wife from physical abuse. And even though Luke has expert legal representation, he still has to fork over 100k. This pushes Luke to take the appearance gig from Piranha who has a strange obsession with him. While most of the guests at Piranha’s party just ask for pictures, it gets heated when a guy breaks a bottle over Luke’s head, and later when Piranha offers to test Luke’s invulnerability by shooting him. But Luke puts all that aside when Piranha gets kidnapped by Bushmaster’s men. Luke saves him and we get the beautiful line, “You want to hire this hero? The price just doubled!”
The newly appointed Hero for Hire, Luke protects Piranha and the two of them get to know each other a bit better. Of course it’s really convenient that the guy who hired Luke to attend his party just so happens to be Mariah’s money man. While they’re talking, Luke figures all this out and comes to the realization that whoever controls Piranha, controls Mariah’s fate. This is a huge blow for Mariah because her future and financial security lies in the hands of her enemy.
Meanwhile, Misty has been investigating what’s going on with Bushmaster and his gang the Stylers. She’s also coming to terms with her disability and how it impacts her identity as a detective. Misty desperately wants to bring down Cockroach, both to help Luke but also to protect his abused family, and finds herself morally unstable ground. She remembers how Scarfe would break the rules but that doing so he would get results. Even though she intended to plant evidence that would put Cockroach away for good, she comes clean to Captain Ridenhour. He acknowledges what she did was wrong, but her coming clean about it shows that she’ll still do the right thing.
Danny and Colleen also hooked her up with a badass metal arm! Looks like it’ll take a little while for her to figure out how to use it properly. But her strength at the end of episode 6 is very promising. And Luke will need all the help he can get because thing’s aren’t looking too good.
4 heads out of 5. After some of the pacing trouble with Jessica Jones, I was a bit concerned when this season started off a bit slow. Especially because of how strong last season started. But things really picked up and none of the characters or storylines seem extraneous. Everything going on with Misty is connected to Mariah and Luke. And Shade’s relationship with Mariah affects what’s going on with Piranha. This makes everything going on feel connected and important. So while these three episodes weren’t perfect, the show is definitely moving in a great direction.
- There’s been so many great references this season and we’re only on episode 6! I’m sure I missed some but so far we’ve had: Power Man, Hero for Hire, Hammer weapons, and my personal favorite: “Where’s my money honey?”
- While most of the fight choreography this season has been really good, whenever Bushmaster does a crouching spin kick it just looks really silly. Not sure why, and for the most part his fights with Luke have been pretty awesome.
- Shades’ history with Comanche seemed to come out of nowhere. They’ve only been shown to be friends so their previous relationship seems a bit tacked on. It seems like they’ve been hiding what went down from those around them, but there have been other scenes with the two of them alone. Curious to see how (or if) this’ll be address in the coming episodes.
- Hope that isn’t the last of Bobby Fish this season, he’s a great character and played beautifully by Ron Cephas Jones
- Who knew Foggy was so into Hip Hop?