We’re at the final episode of Luke Cage Season 2! Mariah is finished, Bushmaster has gone home to Jamaica, Misty is a police captain, and Luke Cage is the King of Harlem.
Here are five thoughts about “They Reminisce Over You.”
1. Mariah was a terrible CEO.
With Mariah in prison, Harlem erupts into chaos. Rival gangs are waging open warfare on each other for control over Harlem. The vaunted “wall” around Harlem has collapsed because one person is in prison.
We’ve seen Mariah careening from distraction to distraction since the start of the season. Who was running day-to-day operations in Harlem all along? Not Shades; he was too busy whining about Mariah’s plans and ruining them when he had the chance.
If selling access to Harlem was a plot point last episode, then it seems to me that the ability to control access needs to be a plot point too. What was Mariah selling?
This crisis was necessary for the plot to work, but the seeds could have been sown earlier by showing Harlem starting to deteriorate as Mariah lost her focus.
2. King Cage.
Luke’s decision to accept the Paradise and take the throne seems almost natural.
But only almost.
Luke struggled with his role as both a protector and a role model for Harlem throughout the season. Over the last few episodes, we saw him start to adjust and maybe even thrive a little. Taking a more visible role as Harlem’s leader makes sense. Punching thugs out one at a time and marching them to the precinct doesn’t scale.
But this looks like much more than that. Rather than moving his nascent “Hero of Hire” business to a more visible location and making a bit of a ruckus, Luke appears to have replaced the Stokes.
Over and over we heard, often from Luke himself, how limited his options are and how careful he needs to be because he is an ex-convict. So now he’s Harlem top gangster?
And who plants the idea in his head?
Yeah. Shades. The guy who, if he told you to invest in Apple stock, would make you want to buy an Android phone. The guy who, if he did McDonald’s commercials, would drive you to veganism.
D.W. calls it what it is, with a darkly humorous reference to The Godfather and then another that acknowledges the existence of our current President and his politics in the MCU. (I was mildly surprised that Disney let that go since Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D already had President Ellis.)
Misty disapproves too. But she reverts to her tough cop role when she confronts Luke in a disappointingly one-dimensional scene. (See below.)
Where is Luke’s father? What would he say? It’s possible his role was cut short by his illness, but it also seems to me that James Lucas would not have condoned Luke’s actions either.
And finally, when Claire arrives, Luke refuses to see her, making it clear to us that even he questions his own decision.
It’s only that final touch that kept me on board with the show and saved the season for me. That little bit of self-doubt made King Cage ring true.
3. Captain Misty
Misty is back on the force, and her misgivings appear to be behind her.
So much so, that when she met Luke at the Paradise, she spoke to him as if he was any other suspect.
“What about the law, Luke?” she asked as if she had no reason to trust him.
“Don’t think that I will hesitate to take you down if you start acting the fool,” she says, just like any other comic book cop.
All of the time they spent not just working together, but helping each other out was forgotten in less than five minutes.
One the one hand, I’m still not sure Misty really belongs on the force. There were many times during this season where she seemed too creative and too free-spirited to be bound by a strict hierarchy and rules.
On the other, it often seems like that’s all she knows how to do. When the going gets tough, her home is the badge.
We’ll see, I guess.Continued below
4. Bye Shades
It turns out being a cocky punk doesn’t always pay off.
Shades’ running his court-appointed lawyer off was more than just a way to show how reprehensible he is, it was what sent him to jail, hopefully forever.
His lawyer might have at least quibbled with the fact that his immunity was contingent on Mariah’s conviction. Of course, I could ask why she let him start giving his statement before explaining the agreement to him, but I’ll let that slide.
As I mentioned above, Shades shows up at Pop’s and tries to convince Luke he should take over Harlem. He was an odd choice to deliver this message. It could have been an opportunity for Sugar to show a little agency, or maybe Sheldon before he made his exit. Insight from a train wreck like Shades didn’t work for me.
His last words to Luke, however, were surprisingly insightful, commingling the current debate over “civility” in politics with Luke’s shift from his preacher’s son to King: “See? You’re not polite anymore. That’s how it starts.”
Shades headed for the door, and I hoped off the set.
Alas, no such luck. But at least when Shades showed up again, it was to get just a little bit of what’s coming to him.
5. An excellent season.
Despite my misgivings, I enjoyed this season, and it’s among my favorites, rivaling even the first season of Jessica Jones. I saw plenty of action, lots of character development, and enough twists and turns to keep me guessing.
Moreover, Season two of Luke Cage shook up the status quo and set a few things in motion for the rest of the Netflix-verse.
Rosalie Carbone appeared in episodes 12 and 13. Her name should be familiar to Punisher fans. Where will she show up next?
We saw an improved Iron Fist and a badass Colleen Wing. The second season of Iron Fist seems like a much more exciting proposition now, doesn’t it?
There’s also the mystery of Atreus Plastics and their new parent company, Glenn Industries. Was this a set up for the upcoming season of Daredevil?
And, lest we forget, Turk is an aspiring entrepreneur now. Will he move to New Jersey if marijuana is legalized there?
That’s it for “They Reminisce Over You” and the second season of Luke Cage. What did you think of it? Who was your favorite villain? What was your favorite development? Let us know below in the comments.