Marvel’s Luke Cage – Season 2
Season 2 of Marvel’s Luke Cage lands us back in the ghetto landscape of Harlem. Picking up mere weeks, months or whenever the hell after the events of Defenders. For all it’s corrupt decadence and urban gang banging that season 1 celebrated we are reintroduced to a Harlem tempered by the steel of Luke Cage. His impenetrable skin and superhuman strength promotes fear amongst the lowlife scum. Yet for all his well deserved hubris, Luke Cage cannot fathom a means to shut down gangland activity for good.
Enter Jamaican criminal mastermind, Bushmaster, as the key to bringing a second season of Luke Cage fueled with a rancid cocktail of vengeance and anarchy. Early on in the season show runner Cheo Hodari Coker carefully molds Bushmaster into the spoon fed antagonist of the series. I say spoon fed because the flavour Bushmaster feeds us is the initial stage leading to Mariah Dillard’s eventual downfall. Bushmaster isn’t just a secondary protagonist. He’s the weather of storm. He’s an agent of chaos in an otherwise unsuspecting Harlem. Purpose built for an otherwise unsuspecting Luke Cage. Even if Bushmaster himself doesn’t realise it.
Season 2 of Luke Cage chronicles the downfall of Mariah Dillard and her bloated empire. She is the chief antagonist. The power hungry warlord (or, war-lady) extending her influence so far leaving herself wide open for invasion. This season is littered by constant references of protecting your kingdom and unadulterated power. Constant themes of power, corruption and the weakness of emotional connection direct the story more than the actual story does. Here we have an umbreakable Queen who crosses the line committing unspeakable atrocities. Mariah’s downfall takes the wheel after she reconnectswith her daughter, admission of incest and finally letting her guard down, allowing her daughter to tear down the kingdom.
Luke Cage Season 2 teaches a corrupt superhero variant of Lord Acton’s “absolute power” lesson.
The character of Luke Cage is a guide traversing the murky waters of greed, sorrow and power. His anger reaches all new heights with his obsession to end the violence in Harlem. An obsession resulting in his own relationship with Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple crumbling down. A torn down foundation allowing for the development of a televised Marvel character edging on stale. The development allows for Luke Cage to reconnect with his Father, played by Reg E Cathey, a relationship bare and broke eventually evolving to a status of mutual respect. A swan song for his last role. Sending him out on a high. Rest In Peace, Reg.
Luke Cage season 2 answered the question of what Misty’s robotic arm would look like televised, courtesy of CGI. More importantly, we got what we’ve been begging for since Defenders – an Iron Fist/Luke Cage episode. With the two heroes kicking ass, not bothering to take names. This is the first time Finn Jones’ rendition of Iron Fist has been likeable. Ditch the individual series lads and let’s have a Power Man/Iron Fist series. Leaving Luke Cage with damnable words of wisdom. That with money comes power. This acts as the catalyst for Luke Cage to overthrow Bushmaster and Mariah Dillard.
Luke Cage season 2 brings out a new side in the character of our beloved Power Man. While it touches on numerous Easter eggs, it highlights acting gold from Alfre Woodard as a woman to be reckoned with and Reg E Cathey as an actor to be remembered. MVP is Mustafa Shakir, taking us on a ride of intense hatred towards Bushmaster to regretful sympathy and back again.
The exit of Rosario Dawson’s character combined with the Iron Fist team up means good things are on the horizon. While a Jessica Jones/Luke Cage wedding in the near future is doubtful, it’s a good call for Netflix execs to align the characters with the comics. The formula of writing stories about people who just so happen to have super powers is the secret to televised Marvel longevity. The “nightshade” of life, if you will.