Luke Cage 2.08 “If It Ain’t Rough, It Ain’t Right”
This Review Contains Spoilers for this episode! Please avoid leaving spoilers for future episodes in the comments section below when discussing this season.
Having lost everything, Maria is on the ropes, and she’s only seconds away from losing Shades too. It’s an episode that tackles both characters plotlines very well, and Shades’ in-your-face speech to Mariah is handled strongly. The decision to spend plenty of time with the villains this episode helps too. We explore the relationship between Tilda and Mariah and learn more about Bushmaster and his powers, which weren’t always exactly clear before.
One of the big themes about Luke Cage in regards to Mariah’s character so far is how the past stays with the character. Despite that, she’s doing her best to move on. The villains this season and Mariah’s character remain utterly compelling. Season 2 steps up a notch as the characters manage a level of consistency that has escaped the other villains in the Marvel Netflix shows – aside from maybe Kilgrave and Wilson Fisk.
The direction that Luke’s father is reformed is welcome, as it twists the trope. This season has put a lot of effort into characterizing him and it’s refreshing to see it step out of the predictable. Hopefully the show continues on with this commitment.
There’s conflict between Mariah and Misty too, and It’s pretty clear that Misty doesn’t like Luke saving Mariah from the fire. At last Tilda is able to find out who Luke Cage actually is, several episodes later than everyone else, and whilst she wants things to go back to how they were, Luke is adamant that there is no normal anymore. It’s only what’s next. It’s something that has been a factor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the introduction of Iron Man, with every sequel promptly trying to one-up each other in terms of bravado and scale of action.
Shades ends up getting brought in as a person of interest as his vehicle was near Ridenhour’s shooting, and considering his criminal connections, that’s enough to warrant some police attention. He may be on the edge but there’s no evidence to hold him permanently, and there’s more pressing matters for Luke to contend with when Reverend Lucas refuses to move from his stomping ground at the Church when he comes under attack from gunmen. It’s an exciting showdown that ends the episode on an interesting note, with Misty and Nandi also involved in conflict with the Stylers as well before they’re joined by Luke and Reverend Lucas.
This is where the Marvel Universe begins to flex its continuity strengths once again. Iron Fist wasn’t the most well-received show, but his character improved dramatically in The Defenders, which wasn’t great itself – but hopefully, given the overall consistency that Luke Cage has managed to achieve so far and the fact that they are heading into more comic book accurate territory, the prospect of Danny and Luke teaming up as Heroes for Hire is no doubt delightful news for fans to hear. It’s also an opportunity for Finn Jones to handle himself with a different creative writing team.