Liam Hoofe reviews the first episode of Luke Cage season 2…
After last being seen on our screens in the colossal disappointment that was The Defenders, Luke Cage returns this week in his second solo outing, and after one episode, it would appear as though normal service has resumed in Harlem.
The show wastes no time in explaining how Luke got out of prison, instead it just presumes that fans watched The Defenders, which means we don’t get an exposition-heavy opening episode to kick the season off. The opening episode, and most likely a lot of the season, explores Luke dealing with his new-found fame, and all of the issues that come with it.
This narrative is nothing particularly innovative for a superhero show but the strength of Luke Cage as a show has always been its ability to tie these tropes into a topical narrative and ‘Soul Brother #1’ is another example of that. Luke isn’t just struggling to deal with his fame, but also his own worth as an African-American man. Numerous times throughout the episode we see several of the show’s characters discussing how much they believe they are worth based on either their skin colour, their family name, or where they have come from. It’s an interesting route for the show to go down, and it should be interesting to watch Luke slowly become a ‘hero for hire’.
Elsewhere in the show, Misty Knight is struggling to deal with the fact that she now only has one arm, and has been forced into an early retirement as a result of that. Fans have been calling for a Daughters of The Dragon spin-off show ever since Misty Knight and Colleen Wing were both introduced to us, and it looks as though they are building their way towards that. It also looks as though Claire may be taking on the ‘night nurse’ persona at some point during the show, which they decided to tease by not so subtlety playing the Gregory Issacs song of the same name during a scene between Cage and Claire.
The second half of Luke Cage season 1 was a total misfire from a creative point of view but one of the few strong points was the relationship between Mariah and Shades, which I’m glad to say, is still as twisted as ever at the start of season 2. Mariah wants to get clean and invest in money in something a little bit safer, but Shades is slowly trying to manipulate her into changing her mind. We are also introduced to the big bad of the whole season in the closing moments – Bushmaster. We’ve seen in the trailer that he looks as though he causes some real problems for Luke, so let’s just hope he is more Cottonmouth than Diamondback.
Talking of Diamondback, Luke’s father also popped up at the start of this week’s episode. His opening dialogue was great but I hope the series doesn’t get dragged down by family politics like season 1 did.
On the whole, the first episode of season 2 did exactly what it had to do. It established several key narratives that will run through the season, it introduced the big bad, and it got everyone caught up on any changes that may have happened since the end of season 1. Welcome back, Mr Cage.