TV Review: Marvel’s Luke Cage (Episodes 8-13) (2016)

 

lukecage

This review will focus on episode 8 through 13, the last, of the series. There will be FULL SPOILERS for the earlier episodes, however there will be NO MAJOR SPOILERS for episodes 8-13. Read my review of the first half of the season here.

Well, what a shake-up. After that heart-stopping ending to episode 7, Harlem is heading for some rough times ahead. The on screen appearance of Diamonback (Erik LaRay Harvey) was shocking enough, but him doing some serious damage to Luke Cage was even more unexpected. Miriah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) has finally disposed of her troublesome family connections, so you can be assured she will be looking to take control of any power gap which now appears. Marvel’s Luke Cage is the third Netflix series (fourth individual season after Daredevil season 1, Jessica Jones and then Daredevil season 2) to tackle street-level threats in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

+ Miriah Dillard’s (Alfre Woodard) escalation from shady politician to full on super villain-ess was glorious to behold. Beginning with her actions at the end of episode 7, there was a real shift in power on the streets of Harlem. I don’t know if her gender was necessarily anything to do with how evil she was, but the fact she is a strong, respected(ish) public figure who just so happens to be a women made her that much more enjoyable
+ Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) had a larger role than any previous appearance, especially over these final episodes. I know she is intended to be the stitching between each of the Defenders, once they are formed, so I was very happy to get to know her personal life a bit more, and for her to be more than the deus ex machina to help the hero out of nowhere
+ similarly to Claire, above, I was very happy to see a bit more of Misty Knight (Simone Missick). Knight is a top player in the Luke Cage comic series, so I was hoping from the beginning she could put some serious heat onto the shady figures of Harlem, and I was glad to see her do it. Even if it would cost her an arm or a leg…
+ the straight references in regards to new weaponry were well received, and really tied the MCU all together a bit more than constant references to ‘The Incident’

– unfortunately, I found that Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey) was just not as enjoyable an antagonist as Cottonmouth was. The ‘old friend’ trope wore thin early and he became just another ‘bad version of the good guy’, without even mentioning his very forced feeling bible Quotations. I think it may have worked better if Cottonmouth had come on the scene after Diamondback, but this would obviously have negated the Cottonmouth/Miriah situation
– it really does seem to be a running trend that the Marvel series all fall apart right in time for the last few episodes. Maybe they need to cut these back to an even 10 episodes to remove some of the fluff

> Luke Cage, as the bulletproof and/or indestructible hero, is not a good fit for melee combat in a tv series. I don’t know how often someone shouted ‘he’s bulletproof’ to their thug friends, only to have said friends start shooting at Cage. It just makes me wonder how any of these mooks survived so long
> the entire Method Man cameo was amazing, start to finish.
> it’s very strange that Alfre Woodard played an entirely different character in Captain America: Civil War. Surely the producers would have known she was about to be a major character in Luke Cage?

Should you watch this show: Whilst not being nearly as strong as the first half or so, the final episodes of the season had their share of, at times literal, ground-breaking moments. Overall a satisfying conclusion, left somewhat open for future events, this was one of the better Netflix series. With the strong final scenes of the season leading directly into both upcoming series Iron Fist and The Defenders, you should give this entire season a shot.

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