Luke Cage 10, “Take It Personal.” is a bit shorter on action than some of the other episodes, but makes up for it with surprise reveals and plotting. You can see things building up for what will likely be the big final conflicts. For someone who showed up so late in the story, Stryker is becoming a very central player to the various plots.
Cage is in Dr. Burstein’s barn, with Burstein and Claire feverishly working on a way to temporarily nullify his powers so they can get the Judas bullet fragments out of him. Claire impresses Burstein a lot with her brilliance and innovation. Eventually, between them, they manage to complete the surgery (no shock there, it’s Luke’s show after all and there’s three episodes left). What was surprising was that Burstein was saying, besides the powers we knew about, Luke has a healing factor and could be essentially immortal with his cells regenerating like they do. That’s not a version of things I’ve ever heard of for Cage before, and opens a lot of interesting possibilities.
Misty has a new board set up, and she’s very understandably focusing on the mystery man who attacked her and took her gun, since she doesn’t even know Stryker’s name yet. The man himself is meeting with Mariah. The Councilwoman is not happy about coming to meet him, and they argue slightly. Stryker oozes a sort of slick confidence, and it’s easy to see him as a cold-blooded killer. They argue about killing Cage and making him the focus of their plot. The scene ends with Stryker pulling on a very strange looking glove.
As Burstein justifies his earlier experiments by saying everyone volunteered, Cage finally wakes up. After a brief humorous moment of his faking amnesia, everything seems fine. Apparently his healing factor took care of everything as soon as they got the bullets out. Cage has some more subtle, but really impressive, powers besides the steel-hard skin and strength.
We get a few establishing shots to show that an older, white cop is a good guy. Unfortunately, he’s the next part of Stryker’s plan. Styker, wearing the same weird gloves, backpack, and hoodie, punches the cop and sends him flying twenty feet. As he leaves, he yells over and over again that his name is Luke Cage. This is where I start having a small problem on a few levels. First off, why would Cage yell his name after very out of character attacking a cop? Yes, I know the infamous dashboard footage is out there, but this is different. Secondly, while I could see making the Chitauri metal into bullets that will damage someone like Cage, I don’t see where he got the gizmo that, presumably, is mocking Cage’s superhuman strength. Stryker hasn’t shown any sign of being a mechanical genius, and they haven’t mentioned that for any of his, or Stokes’, crew. Unfortunately, most of the cops investigating are so furious about one of their own dying that they aren’t taking time to think about any of this.
Mariah is also not happy about a cop being killed, and has another loud meeting with Stryker. Stryker responds with more Bible verses and that same cold calm. Whatever Stryker’s other goals are, he clearly has a serious issue with Cage.
The next few scenes are sadly believable with a lot of the current issues happening in America. The cops go after everyone who might know where Luke Cage is, being very… vigorous in their questioning. While this is goes on, Mariah Dillard whips up public sentiment against Luke. Then a detective really crosses the line and gives Mariah the public attention she wants. Politician that she is, no matter what’s going on, she manages to make it sound like everything is Luke’s fault.
While everyone is plotting against Luke, he’s recovering quickly. Noah Burstein goes on about the possibilities from the process that Luke went through. Going through the files, Claire and Luke make a discovery that really devastates Luke. He does his best to make sure Burstein isn’t going to continue his work, and then Luke and Claire leave. Burstein tries to get Claire to stay; he’s that impressed with her skills and intuition.
Misty, with some help from Bailey (new partner? CSI guy? They aren’t wholly clear on that), finds some old records, and manages to put a name to Stryker and discover Luke’s original name. Excited, Misty tries to tell Inspector Ridley, but that’s just when Mariah comes in, flaunting the pictures she has of the most recent police misconduct. Harlem is getting very tense. Misty and the Inspector talk more later, and Ridley seems ok with Misty digging in to both Cage and Stryker.
Claire and Luke go sightseeing. First they go to the mainland point closest to Seagate, looking out at it as Luke reminisces. Then, they go to Luke’s childhood home in Savannah, Georgia. He relives some memories and gets a better clue as to some of Stryker’s motivations. Again, I don’t think the writers really appreciate how far it is from Georgia to New York City, because way too much is happening in the same day for Luke and Claire to make this drive as they finally head back. As they make their drive, Burstein finds something in his barn which may be an issue later.
Misty is putting some pieces together and goes to Domingo’s gym. She and Domingo have a talk that has some amusing banter and gives her a few clues, especially when she shows him Stryker’s picture. Misty is figuring out what’s happening, also being one of the few not caught up in the anti-Cage hysteria so she notices the recent changes in the local crime scene.
Harlem’s Paradise is once again center stage in the major events. Mariah is holding her big rally here, whipping up even more of the people against Luke, and managing to work in a few hints about Stryker’s anti-supers guns that he hopes to get rich selling. Luke and Claire end up there, and no one recognizes Luke in his clever disguise: wearing a hoodie. Misty also shows up, and things get ugly when Misty tries to take in Stryker without back up. Luke gets involved, and things aren’t looking good for anyone, especially Harlem’s Paradise itself. They go out on a pretty good cliffhanger.
What I liked: In a world of costumed heroes and villains, it really says a lot that Claire manages to shine as brightly as she does. Her character is really impressive. The portrayals of Stryker, Mariah, and Misty are all really good, as is Burstein’s obsessive focus. The scenes of young Luke were done well. The scenes with the police and Mariah taking advantage were sadly believable.
What I didn’t: Stryker’s super-punch gadget just doesn’t work for me. Where’d that come from? The Geogia to New York drive time is all wrong. I drive from the Washington DC area to Atlanta every year, I know what I’m talking about here.
I think was a good episode, largely set up for later. I’ll give it a 4 out of 5.