Luke Cage Season 2 Episode 2 Review: Straighten It Out

Luke Cage tests his powers in season two's second installment. Spoilers ahead in our review...

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

This Luke Cage review contains spoilers.

Luke Cage Season 2, Episode 2

Following last episode’s waste of Judas bullet, Luke Cage has realised that he’s stronger than ever. (Hands up everyone who expects him to be unconscious within three episodes.) Naturally, on hearing this, Claire decides they should learn how strong through the medium of gratuitous cameo of a sportsperson I only know was real because the Internet made sure of it: Todd Bowles of the New York Jets.

While I enjoyed the sequence of Luke testing his powers, part of me would have preferred something a little more methodical. We know Luke is fast and can chuck a giant tyre around, but what does it take for him to actually feel it when he gets hit? What does it take for him to hurt? How much weight can he hold before his knees start to buckle? Maybe I’m just a giant nerd (yeah, maybe…) but when someone says they’re going to figure out how much stronger he is now, I want to see a proper test.

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Meanwhile, Shades and Mariah, the most unusual on-screen power couple since Cersei and Jaime Lannister (I don’t watch Game Of Thrones, I have no idea what I’m talking about), are having trouble going legit because one of their buyers just got collared. Not to be deterred, Shades and his boy Commanche get on the case and end up killing him. There’s no way this ends well for anyone. I am legit loving Shades, though. He makes quick decisions motivated by extreme pragmatism but always in service of his ideals, and as an INTJ I respect that, even though I’m not so sure he should go around shooting people.

Also meanwhile, Bushmaster is popping bullets in the opposite direction: out of his chest, revealing that he’s significantly less bulletproof than Luke is. Er, does anyone have those Judas bullets lying around? The revelation that his powers are related to some strange Jamaican folk herb strikes me as a little problematic, but I trust that showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker knows what he’s doing, so let’s see where it goes. It is a little like a British person claiming they got their powers from a special blend of tea though.

Luke also meets up with his father only for Claire to push him towards making amends, with predictably frosty results. There is 100% trouble in (Harlem’s) paradise for those two, and not just because Rosario Dawson is significantly higher-profile than everyone else on this show. I’m not sure I can handle watching another superhero with daddy issues though. Mariah is actually bucking the trend by having some daughter issues but still. Aren’t there other stories to tell than “my parent/kids don’t understand me?”

The episode ends with Luke tracking down Cockroach (six-barrelled shotgun and all!) and then beating the hell out of him, which makes it pretty clear that the story we’re seeing here is about Luke’s capacity for anger and issues with restraint. Interesting territory and something rarely explored in the context of an action hero.

Mariah’s daughter, Tilda, is based on the character Nightshade from Captain America #164 (1972). There her mastery of chemicals allow her to develop serums that turn people into werewolves and then control them using hormones. I am about 70% sure Bushmaster will not be turning into a werewolf. Well, 65% sure.

When Claire mentions “Matt” she’s talking about Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, the best superhero. You know him, he’s like if Batman was good.

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Commanche is presumably around for the long-haul (or, you know, as long as anyone on these Netflix shows can be) and first appeared in Luke Cage season 1, but only in flashback. Now he’s part of Shades’ operation. He first appeared in Luke Cage: Hero for Hire #1 (1972) and was an archer.

Ben Donovan reappears in this episode – the character previously appeared in the first season of Luke Cage, but he first appeared in Daredevil season two as the Kingpin’s preferred lawyer. In the comics he’s known as Big Ben (presumably because he’s able to clock people*) and first appeared in Heroes for Hire #14 (1973).

*I know, Big Ben is the bell. But I couldn’t exactly say “because he’s also a giant bell” without sounding rude.