This Review Contains Spoilers for this episode! Please avoid leaving spoilers for future episodes in the comments section below when discussing this season.
Foggy Nelson! How long has it been since we’ve seen him? It feels like an age. It was such an unexpected cameo and I love that Luke Cage is embracing the wider Netflix Marvel characters, featuring Foggy along with Colleen Wing. It feels like something that Jessica Jones largely ignored, and it’s interesting to see how the show’s integrating these characters. Luke’s facing a lawsuit from Cockroach of all people, and with Luke’s ex-con record counting against him even though he was cleared of all charges, things aren’t looking good for him if he goes to court.
One of the biggest problems that the Marvel Cinematic Universe had to overcome in their post Avengers solo outings was the question “Why didn’t they just call in the Avengers to help with their mess?” and the same question is raised here: why doesn’t Luke just go for Danny to help? And the answer that Luke wants to solve his problems on his own is kind of stupid. Yes, it’s understandable that a hot-headed character like Luke would want to do things his own way, and there needs to be plot to happen that wouldn’t if Luke just went to Danny or the money, but it feels like a cheap, lazy and contrived excuse. I’m sure Danny would be willing to help given that Rand Enterprises, this very episode, gave Misty a new robotic arm, which you could have called from the moment she lost her original arm.
I do like that Luke is slowly turning into becoming a Hero for Hire as the show follows its comics path. It’s a balancing act that the show has to get right between his personality as the cool, collective and the confident, almost arrogant character that the show has him turning into when he’s on top. So far it’s treading a thin line of not going too far either end. Ultimately at the end of the day Luke Cage addresses the fact that heroism doesn’t always pay the bills, and it’s something that few superhero shows have tackled preferring instead to often make the protagonists wealthy to avoid this problem – case in point, Danny Rand and Oliver Queen being two notable examples of this.
It seems that Piranha Jones is Luke’s salvation and offers Luke a job through Foggy. He’s not the most honest-working guy ever, and it’s pretty clear that he’s a die-hard Luke Cage fan with multiple items in his collection. The appearance at Piranha’s party to celebrate the deal with Atreus Plastics is handled well, and it’s not too far off to imagine that it’d be realistic. It’s also worth pointing out the decrease in options that led Luke to this point, having been shut out of professional sports by the fact that every other team in the league would need at least one powered person to make it a fair contest, and wearing a hood as a vigilante is out of the option despite Foggy’s suggestion due to how his fame has already been established and how distinctive he is.
One of the partygoers attackers Luke with a bottle and the party quickly turns south when he’s brought on stage wearing bullet-ridden clothing that he wore earlier at Piranha’s request. Already upset at Piranha’s attempts to shoot him in front of everyone as the bullet would bounce off everywhere, he’s interrupted by attacking Jamaicans who quickly try to grab Piranha. But when their escape attempt is cut short by Luke and Shades, who’s also at the party, Luke is quick to demand a rise in price for being hired by Piranha. It’ll be interesting to see how this new approach effects his heroics in the rest of the season, as to whether or not he’ll end up turning down some gigs because he’s not getting paid.
Mariah, Shades and Tilda’s storyline is fantastic and really one of the bright sparks of the season so far. Shades’ storyline is tense and unpredictable, and Tilda learning the truth about why Mariah lied to the cops was an important revelation that put Tilda for now on Team Mariah. She may have got the money through dirty means, but she’s justifying it by attempting to put money back into the community and so far it’s working. The slow and gradual build-up with nothing eventful happening throughout had me on edge as I was expecting something to kick in, and by the end of the episode, the three heads on pikes behind the door greeting those who entered, was a chilling conclusion that set the stage for the next episode in true cliffhanger fashion, feeling like it was ripped straight out of the last page cliffhanger from the comics. One of the benefits of these TV adaptions is that we at least we don’t have to wait another month for the next episode…