After the first episode, which was largely set up, Luke Cage and company continue their adventures in “Straighten It Out.” A very worried Claire examines Luke, and can’t find any hint of an injury from the should-be-fatal Judas bullet. While Luke says he’s just lucky, Claire has a theory about what happened that ties back to last season. She wants to test him, but they don’t exactly have a lab at their disposal.
What we get instead is Luke being put through his paces by a football coach. Claire, of course, is there, and so is Bobby Fish. This is also where I finally made the connection as to who the kid with the camera is. In the comics, DW Griffith is a friend of Cage’s who actually rented Luke his first office used for the Hero For Hire business. DW was a long-time friend and ally of Luke and Danny. I give myself a little slack for not recognizing him since in the comics he’s a skinny blond kid. Luke shows off how strong and fast he is now, and gets a lot of fan worship. Bobby also fields some interest from a corporate guy who could make things a lot easier for the cash-strapped hero. All this makes Luke even more overconfident and Claire more worried.
Mariah is not handling word of Cage’s survival with grace, but she rarely does well with defeat. She is convinced Rey did something wrong, and he blames her for selling him a defective Judas bullet. There’s a lot of tension in the office. Continuing her dislike of Comanche, Mariah shoos him out of the office for daring to talk. Mariah wants to use Arturo’s money to help them go legit, and Shades worries about the complicated plans, saying they should just keep going as they are. Mariah blames “the business” for taking all of her family from her, including Cornell. That’s an interesting bit of revisionist history, since she killed him and Shades helped her cover it up. Shades tells her he will help her with whatever she needs done, and they hug while Comanche glares through the window.
Misty returns to work, far from happy about the way everything is going. She runs into Mark Bailey, a friend of hers on the job, and Nandi Tyler, who’s a lot less friendly. Arturo gets taken by in cuffs, and Captain Ridenhour pops by to tell Misty to get back to her desk and stay away from current cases. Misty is convinced Arturo won’t talk to the others but she has a shot. The Captain isn’t interesting in her contributing and tells her to stay out of it.
As they show various city scenes, Bushmaster patches himself up, showing that, while he’s clearly in the superhuman range, he’s not as tough as Luke Cage. He sees Luke’s video and smirks to himself. In the barber shop, Luke and Bobby Fish get an unexpected visit from James Lucas, Luke’s very estranged father. They argue and Lucas leaves, Fish commenting that they look and swagger alike. Claire comes in and sees how upset Luke is. Luke is cranky and says a lot of things, many of which don’t go over well with Claire. Claire warns Luke not to make the same mistake with his family she did with hers, and Bobby Fish slips out to get away from the argument.
Detective Tyler seems to be doing everything she can to make herself less likable than the actual villains in this season, and her partner, Detective Bailey, tries to play peacemaker between her and Misty. Misty goes in to talk to Arturo in finest “I’m the hero cop so I’ll ignore what my boss told me” fashion, and gets a lot of bad jokes at her expense from him. Donovan, last season’s slimy lawyer, pops up and springs Arturo, leaving Misty to face the wrath of her captain. Misty then decides she’s not in enough trouble and calls Luke, updating him on what’s happening. Luke goes and gets some answers in his own way, including a physics-defying interrogation of a guy during his work out.
Bushmaster talks to Anansi, his mentor and a name from African myth, about power and what he should do next. Anansi notices he’s bleeding through his shirt, and Bushmaster comments he needs more nightshade. Anansi cautions Bushmaster against using too much of the stuff and to be careful on his apparent crusade against Mariah, refusing to call her Dillard and using her darker family name of Stokes. Bushmaster is also determined to best Cage, who he sees as a rival for control of Harlem. If nothing else, it both sets up conflict and shows Bushmaster doesn’t know Cage at all.
Mariah fumes at her long-suffering assistant Alex about her fundraiser numbers being down. He reminds her this is all fallout from her cousin Cornell being exposed for the criminal mastermind he was. Alex’s idea is to get Mariah’s daughter involved to make her look better. Somehow, Mariah’s daughter escaped mention all last season even with all the talk about family. She’s apparently named Tilda, which is an unusual name and the first name of a black female villain in the comics. Shades talks with his man Comanche, which is mostly Comanche complaining about how Mariah treats him. The two are minor villains in the comics and Comanche is mostly a whiner here so far. Shades has a meeting with Arturo over the failed attempt on Cage, and things turn ugly, and show that Comanche is more than just a big mouth. Comanche does get off a hysterical, if crude, line at the end of the scene.
Misty is laboriously learning to write with her left hand, and has enough of everyone staring at her. She does a good speech that gets a bit undercut with the surprise announcement of a new homicide that Tyler and Bailey get sent out on while Misty looks annoyed. Misty goes to the crime scene anyway and does her impressive crime recreation trick we saw last season before getting shooed out by Tyler and Bailey. Misty gets a bit more information and then updates Luke again. I get she’s his friend, but Misty arguably really is compromising the investigation at this point.
Tilda is at work in her herbalism store (linking her even closer with the Nightshade name) when Mariah comes in. There’s a lot of tension and hard feelings between these two, and Tilda isn’t in a forgiving mood. They part on uncertain terms, not what Mariah was hoping for. Luke goes looking for Dontrell AKA Cockroach, finding instead his son and “baby momma.” He doesn’t get much help from them, but a nosy neighbor gives Luke some good information and a few great lines.
While Shades tells Mariah about new complications in their business dealings, Luke goes to find Dontrell. It’s a fine example of how overconfident Luke has been so far this season, and he doesn’t manage to accomplish anything he was trying to do. Bobby and Claire talk about some of Luke’s prospects, family complications, in general, and a few of Luke’s failings before the man himself calls and rattles Claire, who rushes off to go help him out.
Claire uses her talents to help Luke, and gets bitched at in return. I don’t know what Luke’s issues are this season, but he needs to get over them. He stalks off like a dick while Bushmaster pays a visit to Tilda’s shop and does some shopping. We get more great music as some talented people play at Harlem’s Paradise, making me wonder how Mariah is having so many money issues with the club always packed. She must have gone to a certain online university run by a guy who managed to lose money with casinos. Shades tells her about some new possibilities. Also at the club is Detective Tyler (I hope she’s investigating) and Tilda, who gives Mariah another chance and causes some tension with Shades and Comanche. I have no doubt I’m reading too much into this, but comic book trivia time: Shades, in the comics, had an eye blast much like the X-Men’s Scott Summers/Cyclops. Scott used to go by the nickname Slim in the early days of the book. Comanche calls Shades “Slim” in this scene. Likely means nothing, but it’s an interesting coincidence.
Claire goes to see Preacher Lucas and hears an old Cherokee folk tale about the two wolves while Luke gets a tip about Dontrell. Luke finds the man and acts like even more of an idiot than he has so far this season. It ends the episode on a really bad note that has me wondering if Luke is becoming a more and more likely resident of the Raft, the MCU’s super-prison.
What I liked: The music continues to impress me. Whoever is in charge of that needs a raise. Claire is a great character, compassionate and dedicated to helping Luke and people in general. I like Bobby Fish’s laid back and wise presence. Whatever Preacher Lucas’ failings are, he’s got a hell of a voice and charisma. I’m glad to see Mariah is at least suffering some ill effects to her reputation from last season. It wouldn’t have made sense otherwise.
What I didn’t: Hate it say it, but Luke. He’s being a jerk at best and needs to get a handle on himself. I don’t buy that Mariah’s daughter wasn’t even mentioned last season. On the one hand, I almost hope Detective Tyler turns out to be a bad guy, on the other hand, that might be too cliché. I certainly wouldn’t mind her getting taken down a peg or three. I get that Bushmaster and his circle are from Jamaica, but they need to throttle back on the accents. I’m actually having trouble understanding them at times, which is realistic but makes for annoying viewing.
I’m giving this a 3 out of 5, lower than usual, but a few bits of it didn’t sit well with me. I hope Luke gets his head on straight soon.