Why did it take me so long to finish season two of Luke Cage? I’m not sure. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it. I chalk it up to, well, the stuff I scheduled for myself for everything else here, with daily TV write-ups, rewatches of other TV shows, movies, and cartoons, plus the AFI Countdown. Some of those are ongoing. Some are temporary.
Fortunately, I was finally able to catch the last two episodes of Luke Cage, and just in time for…ugh, Iron Fist.
Let’s get down to business. This was mostly a fun season. True, like most Marvel Netflix shows, it runs a few episodes too long, and if you somehow decided to skip The Defenders, then you might not know that Luke (Mike Colter) was freed from prison between seasons of his own show. Now back in Harlem, he’s doing what he can to keep the peace using a new signature move of what looks like a gentle slap upside the head to knock various criminals out. He gives a lot of annoyed looks when people try to shoot him, but one criminal even says they have to try and stop Luke so their bosses won’t get mad later. The cycle of violence continues, and all it leaves Luke is broke because unlike the printed version of himself, he doesn’t do hero work for money.
As it is, Luke has some old and new problems. Mariah Dillard (the great Alfre Woodard) is maybe getting the family business clean, but in the dirtiest way possible, and her family’s actions bring a new player to Harlem in the form of Busmaster, a Jamaican who can match Luke’s superpowers thanks to some herbs he knows about. Mariah is also looking to connect with her estranged daughter while Luke’s own estranged preacher father (the late Reg E. Cathey, also great in his final role) is looking to maybe reconnect with him. Indeed, if the first season dealt with the subject of identity, where many characters were known primarily by various nicknames and aliases, this season deals with generational issues for Bushmaster, Mariah, and Luke to varying degrees. It also serves to elevate Misty Knight, now with a cybernetic arm to replace the one she lost in The Defenders until she may almost be an equal partner to Luke in the fight against crime. As for Mariah, much of her plot seems to be a waste of time. Woodard gives it her all, but until the last few episodes, it’s doubtful she even needed to be there unless this is meant to be the conclusion to her own villainous origin.
Much of the season also seemed to examine the role of power when it came to Luke. It’s so easy for him to deal with most people using violence that the show reflects somewhat on what that means when he’s the closest to a WMD walking the streets of Harlem. True, Bushmaster knocks him around a bit, but when dealing with others, he so outclasses people that it makes it look like it could be easy for him to go too far if he ever loses his temper too badly.
Rosario Dawson is back for a few episodes, but she doesn’t stick out the season and may be done with these shows. As for other guest stars, Colleen Wing and Iron Fist each appeared in separate episodes, and if this is a preview to what Iron Fist is going to be like on his own show, it’s a big improvement over what came before. His (shortened) season starts in a few weeks, but in the meantime, Luke Cage was largely fine if once again too long. 8 out of 10 rescinded endorsement deals.