Week of July 30, 2023:

Soliloquy of Chaos (Luke Cage s1 e12) released September 30, 2016 (where to watch)
You Know My Steez (Luke Cage s1 e13) released September 30, 2016
Erik Bates | December 18, 2023

Soliloquy of Chaos
I got a chuckle out of Zip literally trying to take Shades' position in the hierarchy by literally wearing sunglasses indoors and immediately getting called out for it.

Diamondback's plan is horrible, and it's proven by literally all the survivors of the nightclub incident backing Luke's story.

In a department that is trying hard (or so I thought) to shake the "dirty cop" reputation, they sure as hell like to ignore everyone's request for a lawyer. Shades' constant requests for a lawyer, and Ridley's constant denial of that right started to wear on me to the point that even the fake-out didn't even amuse me.

The Method Man cameo was fun, and it was a clever way to work in yet another stellar track to the soundtrack of this series.

I was a bit curious if the killing of Shades would actually work. I'm still not 100% sold on whether I like him as a character, but I didn't necessarily want to see him go, either. Also, was that the world's slowest elevator? Even for a freight elevator it moved slow.

Did I look down at the wrong time or doze off for a while, because aside from the souped up Power Glove, I didn't know that this entire power suit existed, and that it somehow makes Diamondback as bulletproof and strong as Cage?

The criss-crossing of alliances and who is on whose side is getting a little confusing at this point, so I'm glad that we're close to wrapping up the season and hope that it will tie up a few loose ends so we can hit season 2 with a fresh perspective.

Erik Bates | December 18, 2023

You Know my Steez
I guess we needed a little more filler to pad the 13-episode order. Let's look back at Luke and Willis learning how to box for some reason, but still not really get to anything deeper to explain Diamondback's hatred of Luke beyond what I can only assume is because "Daddy loved you more." I was really hoping for something more substantial than something that could have been solved by a few weeks of family therapy where we all come to the agreement that "daddy was an asshole philanderer."

Curious how Cage is going to get out of Seagate this time. Break out? Get out legally? Given a brief reprieve to fight his superpower half brother again (a one-man Suicide Squad, if you will)?

Scott Hardie | January 18, 2024

Soliloquy of Chaos: I'd have liked more scenes over the course of the series like the one here where Luke Cage interrupts the bodega robbery. It really reinforces that he's a neighborhood hero, not some larger-than-life figure who fights a series of costumed weirdos like Diamondback's final form, which looks like he made a Daft Punk costume out of stuff from an Army surplus store. The Method Man rap afterwards was pretty good, too; it's one thing to invite popular Black artists to perform their hits on a nightclub stage, and it's another to hire one to compose something original just for the show. Did anybody else catch the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Stan Lee cameo right at the start of the bodega robbery?

When Luke is being chased by the cops at the beginning, he runs into a dead end in an alley, which raises a question that I've been wondering from the beginning: Does his super-strength not allow him to jump high? I totally get that this show doesn't have the budget for wire work; Jessica Jones can fly and her show only portrayed it once. But just between us viewers, it does seem like a man strong enough to stop a car speeding towards Raphael Scarfe a few episodes ago ought to be able to jump up and grab onto a fire escape, right?

I like the scene where Shades Alvarez escapes from his own murder; it's a well-worn trope but executed well here (no pun intended). He remains full of surprises, like his clever proposal to Mariah Dillard that they work with Luke Cage to take down Diamondback. The existence of a file exonerating Carl Lucas and the willingness of Shades & Mariah to hand it over are a little too convenient, but otherwise, I'm impressed with that twist, and psyched for the season finale even though it seems like it will place the increasingly ridiculous Diamondback at its center. (7/10)

You Know My Steez: The outcome of Luke's fight with Diamondback is no surprise, but it would still be nice if Disney+ would stop spoiling plot details in their one-sentence episode descriptions. Honestly, the battle with Diamondback is probably the most disappointing aspect of this episode, partly because it's so ridiculous that a crime boss who is smart enough to hide in the shadows and ruthless enough to murder every threat to him would come out in a big, public way to punch his biggest foe into submission. Are we supposed to assume that Diamondback has been driven insane by Luke's irritating interference in his work? It just makes no sense. What is his plan here?

Erik, you're right about Diamondback's nightclub plan being idiotic, too. I just don't understand how the legendary, mysterious crime boss discussed in ominous tones in the first half of the season devolved into such a moron. It's a big failure in the writing, but not enough to sink this particular episode, since the rest of the hour around it is so good. But before I get into that, I'll also register my disappointment at the way the writers resolved the Diamondback street fight: At first, I really liked how Luke refused to fight back, because it showed character growth and demonstrated the traits of self-sacrifice and restraint that have come to define him, and it made him more mature than his tantrum-throwing brother. But at some point this was all forgotten, and the crowd started chanting his name and Claire started rooting for him, and this gave him the strength to fight back and win, as if a lack of will to fight was the problem. What the...? If Kelly were watching, she'd probably tell me to stop overthinking it because it's just superheroes and so of course the story is going to end with punching, but I'm tired of overthinking this stuff; why isn't it doing more thinking of its own?

Anyway, much better is the post-fight material, in which Luke Cage finally explains himself to the police at length so that they can clear his name and put away Diamondback. Holy shit, Luke Cage can speak more than one sentence at a time! Watching this series again, I feel bad for Mike Colter, who has a masters degree in acting and yet has to play a man who says and emotes so very little, getting outshone by even the minor guest players in his own starring series. Whose decision was it to make Luke so quiet and introverted? He's much better here when he finally gets time to talk. He's also immensely charismatic when he gets the chance to be; there's something about his humor and flirting in the break room that feels like the character has finally, finally come to life. And this makes his arrest hit that much harder. I was surprised at how moved I was by it, especially since I've seen this once before.

In a good season finale, I love the sense of so many different plot threads coming together and paying off; it's one of my favorite feelings that TV can give me. You've put in your time for 12 hours of sometimes less-than-stimulating setup, so the payoff had better feel worth it, and in this case it does. And the characters are in position to tell even more interesting stories from here. I will drop no spoilers for season 2, but I will say that I'm looking forward to it even more on re-watch than I was the first time. (7/10)

Scott Hardie | January 19, 2024

season rating: 7/10 (It ruled.)
best of season: "Who Will Take the Weight?"
worst of season: "Take it Personal"

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