Luke Cage: Manifest


Well, that took a turn…

“Manifest” is the seventh Luke Cage episode. It starts off with an amusing scene of Zip trying to do a gun deal. Cage walks up, and everyone runs off to his, “Do I even have to say it?” Zip makes an ominous comment and then runs off after his clients while Luke makes short work of the guns.

Back at the precinct, Misty is glaring at her wall dedicated to the case. Her captain cautions her to keep control of herself. We see why as Stokes manages to wiggle out of his arrest. There are a lot of reporters waiting outside, who he more or less ignores. Cage and Misty exchange a look across the street before he walks off, clearly not happy.

Back at Harlem’s Paradise, Stokes is feeling cocky and untouchable, somewhat understandably given the circumstances. Shades tries to warn him about being overconfident, and Stokes first brushes it off, then turns on Shades. Considering Shades seems to have a position of power with Diamondback, and Stokes seems to respect that, this probably is not a good idea. Then again, Stokes seems to do a lot of not so smart things. The end of this scene shows Stokes getting a gun from a special box and facing it at the mirror.

They spend a lot of time on Stokes’ past this episode. With Daredevil, they did a great job of showing how Fisk was driven by a need for power that he honestly thought he’d use to make Hell’s Kitchen better. With Jessica Jones, Kilgrave had a sort of puzzled sociopathy to him; he really didn’t know any better, not that this made him any less of a monster. Stokes, we see, was very much shaped by the relatives that raised him. He lost a promising career when he was pushed into the “family business” by Mama Mabel and Pistol Pete. The flashbacks are very well done, and that says something coming from me, considering how sick of them I am in general. They do a good job of rounding him out, and making him seem like less of a completely evil bastard.

Pop’s barbershop seems to have reopened, although they don’t have barbers or customers. Bobby Fish and Luke are talking about Stokes getting out. Apparently, none of the evidence Luke managed to collect was worth anything with Scarfe being too dead to testify. Claire, who was apparently hanging out in the back room, tries to inspire Luke to keep trying. She makes a passing reference to Daredevil, which Cage isn’t thrilled with. The discussion is interrupted by a phone call. Stokes wants to talk to Luke in person. Oddly, while Stokes tells him where to go, there’s no time set.

There are more developments at the precinct. The changes don’t bode well for Misty, who has been through a lot this season already. A figure from Misty’s past is back, and it’s going to complicate her job a lot. Misty is losing allies and gaining problems all the time. Then again, it seems like in general, being a friend of one of the Netflix heroes isn’t an easy thing.

The press is camped out in front of Councilwoman Mariah Dillard’s house in the wake of Stokes’ arrest and release. She gets a few unpleasant visits and phone calls throughout the episode. She’s getting a lot of pressure from on all sides and it’s definitely taking a toll on her. It doesn’t get better when Shades drops by.

Stokes spends a lot of time in his office playing electric piano this episode. It’s one of the bridges they use between flashback and present day, and it’s effective. Even Cage, when he shows up for the meeting, reluctantly admits Stokes is talented. They have a discussion, and Stokes tries to blackmail Cage about his past. One interesting note was Stokes calling Cage “Harlem’s Captain America” another nice tip of the hat to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Luke’s understandable reaction is to go back to his new place and start packing. I’m not quite sure what he’s packing, since he lost everything when Connie’s blew up. Claire sees him and once again tries to talk him into making a stand. He’s resistant, but she makes some very good points. Say this for Claire, she’s very persistent and passionate.

At the club, Stokes and Shades have another discussion. Even trying to make things better, Stokes keeps digging a hole for himself. Shades, clearly displeased with Stokes, is still staying very calm, not raising his voice. It does a good job of making him seem even more dangerous. I don’t think Stokes gets how bad he’s making things for himself.

Luke hits the streets, and hits up the kid we keep seeing selling videos of “The Incident” aka The Battle of New York. After the kid tries to talk Luke into going into business with him, Luke gets some information from him about another one of Stokes’ playmates: Domingo Colon.

Cage visits Domingo, which is amusing, largely for the line that’s been in so many of the previews, “I guess you haven’t heard about me.” After dealing with the thugs, Luke has a very intense discussion with Domingo about the guns that have played so much of a part in these events. Domingo wisely gives up the information, and Luke takes the guns.

Things start moving swiftly at this point. Misty gets a hint about Luke’s background, and he drops off all the guns with her. Misty is clearly growing more suspicious of Luke.  Misty’s boss seems nowhere near as impressed as she should be by this. Mariah pays a visit to Stokes and events take a surprising turn. This is going to complicate a lot of things.

Luke and Claire have a long talk on the streets, and he tells her his origin. She mocks the yellow shirt, once again emphasizing we’re not going to see Luke in his classic costume. They talk about his past and what he’s worried about. The episode ends on a sudden shocker that’s been building up for a while. Luke is lucky he was with Claire at this point.

What I liked: The writing remains amazing on this series. Stokes’ flashbacks gave him a lot more depth and made him somewhat more understandable. He’s still evil, but you can see more how it happened. I’m really liking Claire more and more with each appearance.

What I didn’t: There were a few small glitches. Luke packing, or no time for the meeting with Stokes. I don’t trust Misty’s new boss at all. I don’t like that they are making Misty and Luke on opposite sides of so much, although I understand why.

I’ll give this one a 4 out of 5. I really am loving this series.