This Review Contains Spoilers for this episode! Please avoid leaving spoilers for future episodes in the comments section below when discussing this season.
Reeling from the fight with Bushmaster and his defeat on the bridge, On and On picks up where we left off in the second season of Luke Cage as we’re now well into the season. Of course, to make things more complicated, Piranha has gone missing from his father’s care and although Luke needs to find him, his father is quick to remind him that he needs rest. There’s a lot of back and forth going on between these men and it’s having an effect on both of them.
It was underwhelming to say the least to see Luke’s paralysis vanish almost immediately, what could have been an interesting turn of events is rendered rather flawed and disappointing. It completely undercuts the dramatic build-up that the cliffhanger created, and makes you wonder why it was there in the first place.
The Stylers have Piranha, and his rather ironic death makes for a big game-changing moment in this season. Luke and Misty have arrived too late, after watching them play an entertaining buddy cop duo in order to get to him, and they find out that he’s been beheaded and fed to a bunch of piranhas like his namesake. The Stylers sure do know how to make a set-piece. It was interesting to see that Mariah didn’t even know where Piranha was too, but of course, it was never going to end well for the character the second he wasn’t with Luke’s father.
Tilda and Mariah have an ongoing clash about Mariah’s position. She can’t leave the conflict with the Stylers behind showing her daughter just how much their legacy is worth, and it’s something that nearly works. Ridenhour could cut a deal with Mariah, but it forces her to make a choice that involves Shades. It’s a tough break for her. Although it’s not one that she discounts entirely, forced to choose between a life on the run from Bushmaster or a life on the run from the cops. More tidbits were dropped about Tilda, with Ridenhour asking whether or not she knows who she really is. It’s something that she will inevitably find out as nobody can keep a secret on TV shows nowadays – but for now, she’s in the dark.
And now Shades has discovered Comanche and Ridenhour together, having tailed Comanche. It’s a brutal moment, and another big twist in this episode that shows that Luke Cage’s showrunners aren’t afraid to kill off major supporting characters, by having Shades dispatch Comanche despite loving him. But in the meantime, Shades has let his guard down and Mariah and Tilda are at the mercy of Bushmaster.
Bushmaster has mainly come into conflict with Luke so far this season so it’s refreshing for a change of pace to see him go head to head against Mariah as we learn more about why he hates her family so much, with her grandfather and his father both being partners in New York before Mariah’s grandfather double-crossed his father. He gives Tilda a choice to be a better offspring than he was, and thanks to the intervention of Luke, she’s able to save Mariah, who then decides that the best course of action would be to hire Luke.
It’s an interesting premise that sets up Luke’s Hero for Hire position very nicely – if he’s being paid at the end of the day, why does it matter that the money comes from? It creates a fascinating moral dilemma and is another move that upends the status quo that the show has established here, which was something that On and On set out to do on multiple fronts. And it looks like the show has succeeded in creating a game changing moment for the second half of the season. Now comes the show’s real test as to whether or not it will fall into the same trap that Season One did…