Luke stops by the local bodega…

Luke Cage reaches the penultimate episode with “Soliloquy of Chaos,” which is one of their more poetic titles. Things start building up towards a major showdown for the finale, and they move the pieces around really well. They are setting up for what should be a really impressive last episode.

They continue their trend of picking up exactly where they left off. We come back to Cage’s Harlem immediately after the chaos of the hostage situation at the club. Cage is being shackled and cuffed by the ESU officers, and Misty is being treated for her gunshot. She ends up talking to Luke for a few moments before they take him away. Cage gets warned the cops have the Judas bullets. Man, those went into production fast, especially considering how expensive the big ones were that Styrker/Diamondback was using on Cage earlier.

On the way to the precinct, Cage apparently decides he’s had enough. The shackles and chains and such aren’t any real challenge to a man with his powers, and he bursts out the back of the transport van easily. He leads them on a chase through alleys and basements and tunnels and then has a really unexpected ending to the pursuit that I really liked.

Media has played a big part in the Luke Cage series and has a really large presence this episode. Part of it is the news, which is covering Cage’s escape in a very negative (understandably so) light. That makes Stryker smile, which is just creepy. Stryker ends up taking a meeting with Turk, the weapons dealer we usually see on Daredevil who popped up here briefly earlier. They cut a deal and Zip comes in, apparently trying to do a Shades impression. Styker is not amused. Turk warns Zip not to trust Stryker on his way out. Turk, for all his horrid choices, is a perceptive thug.

Domingo and his gang plot to take Stryker out, and decide they should go for it, just to make things even more complicated. While that bit of chaos (nice callback to the title) goes on, there’s a lot more happening at the precinct. Shades gets a mugshot taken, and he’s looking very much the worse for wear. Inspector Ridley and Misty talk about a few things, including the fact that Misty really should be at home, considering she has the bullet hole in her and all. They argue about Cage, which seems to be their big, ongoing disagreement. Misty comes up with a great explanation as to why Luke might be on the run, and, given today’s climate, I have to say she makes a good point.

Inside Harlem’s Paradise, Mariah is surveying the damage. She’s understandably upset about the mess, and talks to Alex about the place being her legacy. She blames Diamondback for her family being in tatters, and throws a bit of a temper tantrum. Her ever-faithful aide Alex is there with her, and takes things in an unexpected direction. He also shows that he can be just as ruthless as she is.

Cage himself is walking down the street in his bullet-ridden hoodie, which isn’t exactly subtle. He sighs as he sees thugs going in to a corner store, muttering that he doesn’t have time for this even as he goes to stop the robbery. Improbably, the customer inside is rapper Method Man, who is very impressed with Cage’s powers and determination to help. Method Man even ends up switching hoodies with Cage, and very delighted with the bullet holes.

Candace calls Misty, clearly distraught, and sets up a meeting. Shades and Ridley have their own conversation, which shows that Shades has a lot of experience with his end of the criminal justice system, which makes Shades look good and Ridley a bit like an idiot. Misty meets Candace, who finally tells the truth, praising Luke for his heroics and inspiring her to do what’s right. They’re not alone for their meeting, which is likely going to complicate things down the road.

Method Man goes on the radio, also praising Luke Cage. As the show and later Method Man’s rap goes out on the air, we see that Cage has a lot of supporters, who come up with a really clever and perfectly legal way of slowing down the police manhunt. I have to admit it was one of the most clever and inspiring bits they’ve done on the show so far. It was nice seeing Luke get some support from someone besides Claire and Bobby. There are more radio call-ins about Luke in the background.

The police try and raid Pop’s barber shop, which still is in dire need of barbers. It does have Bobby, playing chess by himself. The cops don’t find Luke, and end up leaving empty-handed. Just after the cops leave, Luke turns up to talk to Bobby about what to do next. They brainstorm a bit and Bobby calls Turk with a shady deal to lure him out.

Shades gets the next few scenes. He is released on bail, to Ridley’s bafflement, and some of his own. Zip takes him somewhere for a meeting, and Shades is smart enough to realize things aren’t going his way. The two of them have a final showdown, and really, who do you think is going to come out on top of that one?

Mariah has another meeting with Alex and sees him out. Then she gets a surprise visitor and ends up having a long talk with Diamondback/Stryker. Stryker is creepy and manipulative, but smart. Mariah holds her own all right, and gets a welcome surprise from Stryker, which may be a first. Usually his surprises tend to be lethal.

Cage catches up with Turk and gets some information out of him. He then leaves him someplace where Cage can find him later if he needs to. Elsewhere, Domingo’s gang goes after Stryker. It’s an ugly gunfight that ends with one of those lethal surprises I was talking about earlier.

Mariah is trying to get some quiet time to think, but gets another visitor. She and Shades plot and decide their best play is getting Luke to go after Stryker. This is the only time I can remember thinking both of them were dumb, since Cage and Stryker are heading for a showdown anyway. They do have some nice leverage to motivate Luke though.

Speaking of, Cage goes to the warehouse where Domingo and company fought Diamindback’s crew. He finds a lot of wreckage, blood, and one survivor. He also finds a bomb. Diamondback isn’t worried about property damage, that’s for sure. Cage manages another last minute rescue, although Domingo only lasts long enough to tell Cage what happened. They do a great scene shift from there to one of Misty’s picture collections. She decides to follow up on a lead, and leaves. I have to say, she’s healing remarkably fast.

After Misty and Cage compare a few notes, we get to the final scene of the episode. Shades and Mariah go to Pop’s. For reasons which escape me, Bobby is still there in the middle of the night. Does the man never go home? Tensions rise as first Cage, then Misty join the group. Then, just to make it as bad as possible, Diamondback shows up, looking the closest to his comic book incarnation we’ve ever seen. As things shape up for the final battle, one thing is sure: Bobby is going to need to get the barber shop repaired again.

What I liked: It was great to see that Luke was finally getting some support from the people. I loved the big shell game on the streets, and the arguments Method Man made in his defense. Shades continues to be my favorite of the bad guys, and his fight scene was really well done. I’m glad Candace is coming clean. Bobby’s line about just getting the shop fixed up and Cage’s scene with Turk were probably the two funniest.

What I didn’t: I still don’t get where Diamondback’s combat rig came from. There’s a big gap between using Chitauri metal for bullets (they left enough of it all over New York) and making a device that does something we never saw during the Battle. While I don’t know what she would have done this episode, I missed Claire.

I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. I’m really looking forward to Luke wiping that smug grin off of Stryker’s face.