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‘Luke Cage’ Review/Recap

Sabrina Petrafesa ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Publisher

Beware Spoilers ahead.

Any Marvel fan knows that Luke Cage has been one of the most highly-anticipated Netflix shows since its announcement in 2013. The hype surrounding the show is well deserved. Going in, expectations were high and they were met.

Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is the bulletproof black man in a hoodie who saves Harlem. Last time fans saw him, he was hanging out with Jessica Jones in Hell’s Kitchen. Now, he’s hanging out in Harlem trying to stay under the radar when he gets caught in the crossfires of Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali) and his illegal operations.

This show brings racial biases to the forefront. For the bulk of the second half of the season, there is a plot alluding to the Black Lives Matter movement. The police have now become a part of the problem. The show’s shining moment is when Harlem stands in solidarity with Luke by wearing hoodies covered in bullet holes and willingly inviting the police to stop them and taking the heat off of Luke Cage himself.

Luke Cage brings racial biases to the forefront, but it also plays with gender roles in the best ways possible. Cottonmouth and his cousin, Mariah, were raised by their grandmother to adhere to gender roles. But Mariah grew up to be a councilwoman, and Cottonmouth to run the illegal businesses. It becomes increasingly clear that each want the other’s life. This tension comes to fruition in the most amazingly violent way when Mariah kills Cottonmouth with a microphone stand. This is one of the most brilliant things Luke Cage presents in the show. Mariah is never seen as a threat, but of the two, she is the bigger threat than her cousin.

Mahershala Ali in Luke Cage. Photo Credit: Netflix
Mahershala Ali in Luke Cage. Photo Credit: Netflix

The real villain didn’t show his face until the seventh episode of the season. However, Diamondback’s presence was there from the first episode. He is the ominous supplier of the illegal Hammer Industries weapons, and he is a spiteful man with a grudge. Every choice Diomandback has ever made was to destroy Luke Cage. Diamondback is a special kind of crazy, but without him, Luke Cage would not exist; as we learned in Luke’s flashback episode, he got his powers in prison—and Luke went to prison because of Diamondback. He proves to be a powerful villain armed with the only technology that could actually penetrate Power Man’s skin.

Nothing makes an avid viewer happier than references to the greater Marvel Universe. The inclusion of Trish Talk (the radio show run by Jessica Jones’ foster sister), the Incident, Justin Hammer, and any mention of Daredevil left fans absolutely giddy. It truly connects the shows to the universe in a way that was lacking in both Jessica Jones and Daredevil. It was very frustrating when Luke would not take up Claire’s offer of the amazing lawyer she knows (just accept the offer, Luke!). It would be irresponsible not to mention the ultimate reference of the entire show: Luke Cage in his original outfit from the comics. Decked out in the neon yellow shirt and metal head and arm bands, Luke Cage promptly decides he looks like an idiot and takes off the metal headband. The moment was definitely squeal-worthy, though.

Let’s talk about Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson). She is the voice of reason and a godsend to the vigilantes of the Marvel Universe and must be protected at all costs. Her introduction to this show specifically left a mark; she was mugged and did not take that sitting down. She chased after her mugger and took her bag back. It was incredibly impressive and all-around awesome. Rosario Dawson as always brings amazing talent to the table. She has chemistry with every actor she works with, creating some of the best dynamics in the whole show. Claire and Luke are definitely the power couple of the show. Their relationship is one of the most compelling things to watch—although some fans may not like the romantic relationship that was happened in the last couple of episodes.

Mike Colter in Luke Cage. Photo Credit: Netflix
Mike Colter in Luke Cage. Photo Credit: Netflix

Luke Cage is definitely worth the watch, whether in a thirteen-hour binge or a casual viewing. Luke Cage is one of the most relevant and important characters on television. Coupled with the current political and racial climate in America, a show like Luke Cage brings so many issues to the surface while still being entertaining and making history.

Luke Cage is currently streaming on Netflix

Overall Grade: A+

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