Luke Cage: DWYCK


Let’s talk about last episode…

Luke Cage’s ninth episode is the somewhat confusingly titled DWYCK. They never explain this during the actual show, so I had to go hunting around a bit before I found out that means, “Do What You Can, Kid.” I don’t know where that’s from, but I’d never heard it/seen it before this. EDIT: Apparently the initials are from a song that had a somewhat shady meaning, and, as Cage tends to do, he gave it a better meaning.

The episode starts with Misty in an interrogation room, but she’s not the one running it this time out. The situation is a little odd. She’s in some kind of counseling with Gabe Krasner, an ex-cop turned psychologist. I know there’s a required counseling session, usually more than one, after an officer involved shooting. This is a bit different. She says at one point it’s voluntary, but she clearly doesn’t want to be there. Krasner mentions that if she refuses, or comes back with her union rep, her boss the Inspector is going to keep her on desk duty. There’s a lot of tension as Krasner walks her through both recent events and something from her childhood that helped shape her into who she is.

Cage finally manages to get out of the trash truck he fell in (I’m sure that helped his open wounds) and stagger off down the street. He mutters his comic book catch phrase, “Sweet Christmas,” as he walks away, clearly in great pain. Cage is really not having a good few episodes.

A new band is rehearsing at Harlem’s Paradise while the office window gets fixed after Stokes broke it on his way down. Shades has a very brief moment to enjoy the peace and accomplishment before Styker/Diamondback comes in. He’s still violent, ruthless, and really doesn’t seem to get the “these guys are on my side,” concept. With his own version of motivation, he sends the thugs out to look for the still missing Luke. Diamondback continues to be unpredictable through the scene, including threatening Shades and quoting the Bible.

On the street, Cage staggers along. He finds a laundromat where, somewhat improbably, the first dryer he tries has a hoodie that fits him. I guess that’s like all those years of Bruce Banner on the run always managing to find purple pants. They show more about Luke being wanted for Stokes’ murder on the news, which is another weak point. We saw Stokes being beaten with a mic stand. That leaves a very different wound than a fist, even a superpowered one. Is the coroner in on the railroading job against Cage? Maybe Luke needs to call Matt Murdock…

Krasner and Misty keep talking. She’s had a rough dating life, although some of that is self-inflicted. She touches on her fling with Luke, but doesn’t name him. Krasner also brings up her not having anyone to talk to following Scarfe’s death, and Scarfe’s betrayal of Misty. Krasner ends up asking the stereotyped shrink question, “How does that make you feel?” This doesn’t exactly endear him to Misty.

Mariah has some flashbacks to Stokes’ death as she stands over the body at the funeral home. Her mourning is interrupted when Shades shows up to offer more of his murmured encouragement. I finally figured out who Shades reminds me of. Something about his delivery is like an evil version of Phil Coulson, Agent of SHIELD. Shades cautions Mariah that Diamondback is very unhappy, and that their frame for Cage doesn’t work if they can’t find him. Mariah tells Shades she wants out of Stokes’ end of things.

Cage has a rough time of it. His wounded staggering gets mistaken for drunkenness, and he gets the attention of a few cops. There’s a very tense confrontation between Luke and the cops that mirrors a lot of the racial unrest between minorities and police. Luke ends up dropping both cops, although carefully not killing them and dragging them out of the street. Cage even shields one from the other when he gets trigger-happy. He then steals their cruiser. While he’s innocent of the murder charges, Luke is racking up a few new ones on his own.

Misty and Krasner keep having their chat, covering her past and her motivations for taking her job so seriously. Misty has refused transfer opportunities to stay in Harlem, because she knows the place and feels she’s most effective there. She also talks about the double standard about codes of conduct for men and women on the job.

Mariah goes to Domingo Colon’s boxing club, which is still being patched up after Luke’s earlier visit. She arranges a meeting with several of Stokes’ steady customers. She also oddly calls Colon “Chico,” which yes, can be a general slang name for people but, since a guy called that was so big a part of this story earlier, it seems like an odd choice. There’s a passing reference to “the Chinese having something going on downtown,” that sounds like a Daredevil nod to me.

At Soldedad’s diner, Claire is studying more on Luke’s condition. She’s a very clever and dedicated researcher. Her work gets interrupted when Cage stumbles in. Claire comments, “He shot you again?” They talk about who Stryker is and what his motivations are for going after Luke. Claire decides that the only way to help Luke is find Noah Burstein, the doctor that created the process that gave Luke his powers in the first place. She mentions driving to go find him, since her mom “has a car, we haven’t totaled that one yet.” The time scale gets a bit weird here, as according to the online articles, Claire drives him to Georgia. It takes about ten hours to drive from Washington, DC to Atlanta. It’s going to be further from New York City. So how long are they on the road? No wonder both the cops and Mariah’s crew are going nuts not being able to find them.

After a brief scene between Mariah and her aide, Alex, Krasner gets something of a breakthrough with Misty. I don’t blame Misty for being suspicious of Krasner throughout this process; she certainly has enough stacked against her. The session does go a long way toward explaining why Misty was acting so out of character last episode. It’s good acting and good writing.

Claire eventually manages to get them to Dr. Burstein’s house. Burstein doesn’t want to talk at first, but changes his mind when he finds out Luke’s out in the car. Luke gets off a great smart-ass line here which made me smile. Butstein has a partial reconstruction of his original lab, which, along with Reva’s flashdrive, gives him a lot better idea what happened to Luke in the first place. There is one factor he can’t account for, that’s a crucial part of Cage’s origin both on the show and in the comics. Burstein also provides a few unwelcome revelations about Reva before he and Claire get to work with some really uncomfortable looking procedure.

Misty and her boss talk after the session with Krasner. I personally don’t like Inspector Priscilla at all, but she gets a tiny bit easier to understand in this scene. She also shows Misty the scene of Luke vs. the cops from earlier, captured on dashboard cam. Things aren’t looking great for Luke as Misty gets turned loose to bring him in.

Mariah gets her meeting, but it doesn’t go at all as planned. An uninvited guest shows up and takes some drastic action. This ends up changing the balance of power a lot, and creates a new alliance toward the end of it. Mariah is a truly dark and ruthless individual, but she comes up with a good, if evil, plan that impresses her new ally. This is followed by a scene at the club with Shades in a not great place himself.

While Misty takes down her old wall and creates a new one that focuses on Cage, Stokes, and Stryker (although she doesn’t know who he is yet), Claire and Noah start working on Luke. It’s a very ugly procedure that doesn’t go anywhere near as smoothly as anyone involved hoped. The episode ends on a cliffhanger as things start going wrong with this desperate attempt to get the bullets out of Luke.

What I liked: The dashboard footage looks bad for Luke, but it’s totally believable. The entire scene between him and the cops was done well. I thought it maybe went on a bit long, but I like that the session with Krasner helped explain Misty’s behavior last episode. Claire is an amazing character who can be a great help to the Defenders as they come together. Mariah is wicked and ruthless but damn smart.

What I didn’t: I get that he’s tough, but Luke has been wandering around with two bullets (or the fragments of same) inside him too long. His lucky score at the laundromat was a bit unbelievable. I really don’t get how the coroner hasn’t picked up on the difference in wounds.

I think this was a lot better than last episode, and even cleaned up some of the stuff I didn’t like from that episode. I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5, and I’m enjoying the build towards the finale.