The penultimate episode of Luke Cage picks up immediately where 11 left off, with Luke getting put in handcuffs and driven to the precinct. Of course, this is a bulletproof superman, so he promptly breaks free and books it away from the ridiculous number of police sent to bring him in. Despite wearing a hoodie riddled with bullet holes, Luke manages to stay pretty incognito, even managing to stop a robbery in progress without drawing the attention of the general public.
But, thanks to the fact that one of the men being robbed was The Method Man, the public’s attention was eventually captured. Only, this time, rather than attending anti-Luke rallies and publically bashing him, the citizens of Harlem had Luke’s back. The solidarity in this sequence, with strangers buying holey hoodies to makes things easier for Luke and more difficult for the police, was a great thing to see since we as the audience have always been aware that Luke is one of the good guys.
Elsewhere, the police are going hard on Shades in an attempt to get him to name Stryker while Misty is meeting up with Candice to get her to name Mariah. Knight obviously has more success than her superiors as Candice gives her the full details of Cottonmouth’s death and places both Shades and Mariah at the scene. She goes on record with the story, and even agrees to testify so long as Misty can guarantee her safety.
The police are less successful with Shades, whose overpriced lawyer gets him out quicker than it takes me to eat a cupcake. Of course, his early release isn’t as great for him as he initially thinks, since the men that pick him up immediately try to kill him on orders from Diamondback. The realization that Stryker tried to take him out understandably pisses Shades off, who kills everyone sent to kill him, and turns on his boss in a second.
Also in the anti-Diamondback club?
Stryker’s attempt to buy her off does not go as planned, and actually sends her and Shades straight to Luke Cage himself. The two want to join forces with the man they’ve been pinning everything on in order to take out their mutual enemy: Diamondback.
Stryker doesn’t love this new alliance and promptly rolls up to Pop’s in his new super-suit (which looks like something a seventies news anchor would wear) and goes after his brother.
As far as penultimate episodes go, this was a pretty decent one.
At this point, you know that my only real gripe with Luke Cage has been the slow pacing leading up to this final act, but the last third of the season seems to have taken all of the good while shedding the unnecessary… thus making for the best grouping of episodes thus far.
The monologues that made up the majority of the first two acts of the season, though still present thanks to Diamondback’s love of his own voice, felt more pertinent in, “Soliloquy of Chaos.” Where the early half of the season felt as though it was leading to leading to something, this episode finally made it feel like we were getting somewhere.
Having said that, because of the slow burn of the season, it did feel like this was a rapid-fire shifting of pieces, as though the writers realized that they’ve reached the end without getting anywhere in the middle. Because of this, the subtle undertones were kind of pushed to the side in favor of being entirely straight-forward to ensure that everything is in place for the finale. It seemed that everything was vocalized, as if the intention was to blatantly state the main themes, messages, and plotlines of the episode, and series as a whole. (Ex. the rap-recap about the bulletproof Luke was pretty awesome but also felt like the show was shaking viewers and being like THIS. THIS IS THE POINT. And it’s a good point indeed).
There was such complexity to the earlier half of the series and while it proved to be a slight detriment in terms of pacing, it also created a carefully woven structure that seemed to unravel in the blink of an eye so that the season can come to some sort of definitive end next episode.
Granted, this is commonplace where penultimate episodes are concerned, and usually means that the finale payoff will be top-notch.
Episode Grade: B-
- The Method Man cameo in the conveniences store was pretty damn awesome. I love that he was just as big a fan, if not bigger, of Luke as Luke was of him. #WuTangClan
- Luke Cage has never been subtle about the messages it’s trying to send but it felt as though this episode really tried to nail them into the brains of the audience. I think Luke Cage is one of the more important shows to have come out in recent history due to the very real issues that it highlights, and definitely am happy to see such things emphasized on this scale, but the beauty of the show is how it approaches them. It took me out of it a bit when everything seemed to be audibly mentioned this episode in a bullet-point format.
- I officially want a Misty Knight spin-off and would settle for an action figure or 6-issue comic series if her own show isn’t possible.
- I might have completely missed it considering it happened in the 4AM section of my binge but… where did Claire go?
What did you think of the penultimate episode of Luke Cage? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments below!