Netflix’s Luke Cage wraps up season one with “Now You Know My Steez.” This is another one that I had no idea at all what it meant, so I went a-researching. According to what I could find, “steez” is “style with ease.” It’s a good episode, but no one has what I’d call an easy time of it.
Oh, as a warning, there are spoilers in this review. I try not to do that as a rule, but I don’t see a good way around it for a finale. I’ll avoid the ones I can, but there are some in here, so don’t read if you haven’t seen this episode, or care about spoilers.
Considering the way the last episode ended, there’s no surprise at all about where this one starts. Cage and Diamondback finally have their big fight: Cage’s powers vs. Diamondback’s suit. I’ve complained several times in past reviews about where that suit came from. We finally find out, and I’m still not sure it makes sense, but I guess I’ll shut up about it. It does level the field between Cage and Stryker. The fight is intercut with flashbacks from the two of them being younger and training in boxing.
The fight takes up a good piece of the episode. There were a few things I think Luke should have done differently, but hey, it’s not my fault or my archenemy. They pretty much trash Pop’s again, poor place. They also get a lot of media coverage, which Mariah spins to more in her favor and anti-Cage. I swear, they’d be better off if Cornell Stokes had lived and Mariah Dillard died. She’s just so slimy and annoying.
Cage has been gaining in popularity in the neighborhood, and it’s great seeing that here. The crowd chants his name, watches (and videos) the fight. Despite Stryker being such a smug and vicious bad guy, Cage manages to win. Of course, it’s a mixed victory as he’s promptly arrested, or allows himself to be arrested, anyway.
Claire sees the fight and rushes to the scene. Candace, the very important hostess turned waitress, is at Soledad (Claire’s mom)’s place and Claire tells her to stay there. Claire leaves among some teasing from her mother. As the fight ends, Misty also arrests Mariah, who takes it about as well as you’d expect.
As the Misty, Luke, and Claire group gets to the precinct, they are swarmed by reporters. They call Luke a hero, which he disputes. Luke’s attitude throughout the series has been very admirable. He has quiet courage and determination. So far, I think I like him best of the Netflilx heroes we’ve seen. As Ridley very pointedly brings up the warrants for Luke’s arrest, Claire mentions she knows a really good attorney. This is far from the only time she hints about Matt “Daredevil” Murdock during Luke’s stay at the precinct. I wonder if that’s going to come up in the future.
Cage declines the implied help of Daredevil and says he’ll speak for himself. Inspector Ridley stays fairly adversarial towards Luke, which annoys Claire, Misty and most of the fans. Overall, the cops are being accommodating to Luke, despite Ridley’s best efforts, and a bit less so with Dillard. Between them, Luke and Claire do a good bit to refute the charges against Luke, and Claire makes a very basic suggestion the cops seem to have utterly overlooked.
The majority of the rest of the show is at the precinct. It’s really interesting watching the markedly different ways Luke and Mariah handle being there. Luke is positive and inspiring and even impresses the cops hanging around listening. Mariah is ugly, lashing out at everyone. It’s some very nice writing and good acting on both their parts.
By the end of the police scenes, there are some unfortunate but expected developments. The US Marshals show up to take Luke into custody because of his escape from Seagate. The interesting balance he strikes with them is going along, but refusing cuffs (not that they’d do much anyway). Mariah, due to some really ugly events, goes free, just as smug as ever. Harlem’s Paradise reopens. Diamondback, at least, is in custody, but the last scene with him and another supporting character make me wonder about what his future holds. And one of the last few scenes holds out some hope for Luke’s immediate future.
What I liked: Mike Colter is just really impressive as Luke Cage, both in this episode and throughout the series. Claire is a great character who is, at this point, my favorite in the Netflix portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A hero is only as good as his bad guys in many respects, and I enjoyed Shades, and thought Mariah made a good foe. The music was great during the entire run. I loved seeing the people of Harlem support Luke. I would have liked something closer to a “happy ending,” but the way they did it made sense. The two Marshals at the end were actually reasonable, likeable characters.
What I didn’t: Diamondback is the closest I think we’ve seen to “just plain evil” as a bad guy on the MCU. He certainly has the most pathetic motivation. I still don’t think the suit explanation works too well. I never really got a good sense of what was going on in Inspector Ridley’s head. I went from wondering if she was crooked to maybe stupid to just plain didn’t like Luke.
I’ll give the finale a 4 out of 5. I’ll give the series a 5 out of 5. So far, it stands at the head of the Netflix/Marvel series for me. But my personal favorite is up next, so I’ll have to see how they do with Cage’s best friend in the comics, Iron Fist.
March is too far off.