Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for Luke Cage Season 2.
Luke Cage Season 2 just dropped on Netflix and after binge-watching the entire season. I must say this entire season was certainly an experience. So let’s dive into this review and see if Luke Cage Season 2 is really worth all the hype and deserves the attention it’s getting. Careful because there will be spoilers.
Season 2 is basically following Luke Cage’s rise to stardom as everyone in Harlem knows his name, for better or worse. Luke is basically going around and stopping any Gangs, Drug Cartels, and anyone that threatens the peace of Harlem. We also see the Mariah has been continually rising to power on the Harlem food chain from season one. However, we are soon introduced to Bushmaster, this season’s main antagonist. We see that he is out for blood on the Stoke’s family and has no problem turning Harlem into a war zone to get back what belongs to him. Too bad he will have to get through Luke Cage first.
Ok, so I must congratulate Season 2 as it managed to fix many of the issues in the first season. For starters, Bushmaster is a much more compelling villain than the like of Season 1’s Cottonmouth and Diamondback. The moment we see Bushmaster we get this intense scene of him killing off an old acquaintance which sets the tone of the character perfectly. While Cottonmouth dies halfway through the season and Diamondback was just evil due to a Freudian Excuse. Bushmaster’s reasoning for wanting vengeance against the Stokes family and wanting to kill Mariah was told beautifully. It was told so well that I couldn’t help but root for Bushmaster just to take down Mariah permanently.
Personally, I would argue that Bushmaster could be seen as more of an anti-hero as he merely wanted vengeance and to collect what was taken from him. The character dynamic between Luke and Bushmaster really seemed to mirror the dynamic between Daredevil and Punisher. Both lost people they really cared about and then set off with a new purpose because of it and are constantly compared to the main protagonist. While I doubt we’ll get a Netflix series dedicated to Bushmaster, I’m really happy they kept Bushmaster alive for this season because he was too good of a villain to serve as cannon fodder. So, hopefully, we can expect more Bushmaster in the future, perhaps in other Netflix series. Mustafa Shakir did a really good job in this portrayal of the character.
Speaking of compelling villains, “Black Mariah” was no slouch either. Alfre Woodard’s performance as Mariah really helped to encapsulate Mariah’s transformation to an irredeemable villain. You can argue that in Season 1, Mariah was thrust into the family business. However, at the beginning of Season 2, we see her trying to desperately to get out of the business and fly straight. Unfortunately, if you ever watched movies such as Scarface, Goodfellas, andThe Godfather. Then you know that the idea of “going legit” in the gang/mafia business never ends well. Towards the end after Mariah’s restaurant massacre and her arrest. There is a brief moment where we the viewers are lead to believe that Mariah might pull a Kingpin and try to get out of prison, which the very thought of her escaping all she has done was irritating. Which makes her final scene as she is dying feel so satisfying as Mariah loses everything.
We get to see Heroes for Hire in action which was nice. We get to see a more experienced and character developed Danny Rand this season. I say this because, after the events of Iron Fist Season 1 and Defenders, we see Danny is not so whiny or lost as he was in the previous series. Episode 10 really showed that Danny has come along way and has found a way to “center” himself which did help to influence Luke’s character arc. Also, the dynamic between Rand and Cage is a lot better. Unlike, Defenders, where the two of them were almost at each other’s throats. This time they are a whole lot friendlier with each other. While they aren’t exactly best friends like their comic book counterpart(yet), this episode that their relationship is well on that way. Although, I don’t know why Luke can’t believe Danny took on a Dragon.
Choreography made significant improvements. While Luke Cage is not Martial Arts heavy like Daredevil and Iron Fist, the introduction of Bushmaster really helped to show the possibilities for the other series and maybe restore some faith for season 2 for Iron Fist(though that’s still a stretch). The performances were probably the best things in this season. The acting in this season really improved. Though I must say the best performances are given to primarily the villains. Every time Bushmaster or Mariah was on screen, they commanded attention and refused to be outshined by Luke Cage. Now that all the positives are out of the way, let’s pick what’s left apart.
No Claire Temple? Claire was only in the first three episodes of this season of Luke Cage. After a brief fight with Cage the two of them split up and we lose the morality pet of the series. I honestly missed having Claire for the remainder of the show, but part of me thinks that Rosario Dawson lack of presence in this season is due to her potentially leaving the MCU behind. This is still left in the air was don’t see Rosario Dawson at the end, although her character was mention being there in the end. Honestly, if this turns out to be true, it will be a real shame. Because this season really helped to show the importance of Claire’s character as she is the one that helps to ground the heroes and prevent them from losing their way. Which Luke REALLY needed in the end. In all honesty, her character’s departure felt a little bit out of left field and I felt her role in this season was left unfinished.
Luke’s anger issues. Ok, so this was a good idea, but I felt this was executed a bit poorly in this season. So much so that I think this plot point may have served better in Season 1 rather than in Season 2. Claire claims are due to his resentment towards his father which could be supported by the fact that Luke Cage puts Cockroach in the hospital for beating on his son and wife.
However, let’s keep in mind that Luke still could’ve done more damage and it wasn’t like he necessarily intruded. The elderly women called him to help put a stop to it. Although, my main issue is that this theme of Luke having anger issues is not really expanded upon. After the events of Cockroach and that outburst with Claire, we do not see any more elements of Luke losing his cool in a similar manner. He still takes out the bad guys like usual with simple taps on the head.
The only other time this is brought up is when Danny comes to visit at Claire’s request. Then we see Danny giving Luke some advice to center himself. This only feels connected due to the fact the Claire has an involvement. However, like the first example, his anger issues are never brought up again. You can possibly argue that it did appear again in the final battle with Bushmaster where Luke nearly snapped his neck. However, what they did manage to capture was Luke’s internal struggle with what exactly is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, it gets overshadowed usually by the main plot and the Villains.
Luke’s father, and I don’t mean Darth Vader. Luke’s Father was played by Red E. Cathy, who gave an exceptional performance. However, the issue lies in the fact, we didn’t get enough of him. As far as character goes he served his purpose and Luke Cage and his Father had their resolution over the past which was a nice heartwarming scene. Although the character leaving felt abrupt. In episode 9 were Luke and his father speak, while it was nice, it just ended with the two of them getting something to eat, which we didn’t even get to see. Now from the conversation, you could infer that his father went back to Georgia. Though it still felt abrupt and we could have used more scenes of Cathy. However, this might have been due to the untimely demise of the actor. Rest In Peace Red E. Cathy, you gave a riveting performance.
Luke Cage Season 2 was an experience that must be watched and deserves a whole lot more attention. Sure it had its problems, such as Luke Cage staying with Mariah as she is dying instead of walking away from her like he said, which would have made that scene so much more impactful. I like the idea of Luke being the new Sheriff of Harlem in the guise of a crime boss. The ideas and opportunities they can do with that are endless. So, hopefully, they put it to good use. However, my only concern with this is that it may affect the potential of future Heroes for Hire. There were a lot of interesting things this season had to offer, Shades betrayal, Mariah’s daughter, Misty’s arm. If you haven’t watched it yet, then I don’t know why you are reading this article. GO WATCH IT. It had a few hiccups along the way the improvements made were far and in between.