Sep 5, 2018

[TV] Luke Cage: Season 2 Review


Netflix's Marvel comics related shows continue to get a lot of attention due to their great production value and more mature stories. They've put a lot of work into giving the Marvel Knights characters justice and that was highly evident in the first season of Luke Cage.

More than "just" a show about a somewhat less popular comic book character, the show always acted as a unique opportunity for better representation of people of color in a more prominent role instead of just supporting or background characters. And that's a pretty big deal as more and more the lack of fair representation in entertainment continues to be a point of contention for audiences.

This second season though remains focused on telling good stories for Luke Cage and his related characters and continues to blur the lines between the different Netflix Marvel shows by having characters from individual show travel across to other shows to further stress it's a single shared universe. It may not be the full MCU, but it's still something.

Synopsis: Luke Cage is an American drama television series created by Cheo Hodari Coker for Netflix. The second season of 13 episodes came out earlier this year in June.

After the events of the first season, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is now a bit of a local celebrity in Harlem as people trust him to help out and do the right thing for the community. On the flip side we have Misty Knight (Simone Mimssick) dealing with the loss of her arm during the events of The Defenders. And then there's also Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) has largely inherited Cottonmouth's criminal empire but keeping things together isn't exactly easy.

The main antagonist figure that comes into the mix of things is John McIver the Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir), who travels to Harlem from Jamaica with an eye to take over from Mariah Dillard as part of a larger revenge plot against the Stokes family.  And he has been using voodoo rituals to strengthen himself to the point where he can actually face off with the likes of Luke Cage.

What I Liked: This show remains highly character focused and thus everyone has a story that you follow in this season in order to get to the big climactic end. Bushmaster naturally feels like the new "bad guy" in the story given he does directly come to blows with Luke Cage, but over the course of the season we get a better idea of what drives him and he is more than just a thug thrown into the super-powered mix of things.

The other character who gets one of the more complex arcs in this season is obviously Shades (Theo Rossi). He is initially poised as Mariah's lover and quite literally partner in crime but we learn a lot more about him across the episodes including his colorful backstory and his complex motivations. He is more than just arm candy for Mariah and how things come to a head do make for great television.

And this season may have done the seemingly impossible by presenting Danny Rand (Finn Jones) as a pretty decent Iron Fist in that one episode where he factored into things.

What Could Have Been Better: The season started rather strong but quickly fell into a slower pace. This is not automatically bad in itself of course but it did mean the season needed a good amount of patience before making the viewer's investment of time and attention feel like it's truly worth it. And that's a tough climb for some and quite similar to the same progression of the first season. That sort of made sense then since it was establishing the characters and the world but this second season should have been able to take off sooner than it did.

I wasn't fully invested in the whole Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) as Luke's significant other in this season since it felt like it largely diminished her character given what she had achieved in the other shows. She's not entirely a pushover, mind you, but it did feel like there was a significant effort to have her step back a bit when sharing the screen with Luke and it felt like a bit of a waste of all the progress she had made before.

TL;DR: Luke Cage is still a solid character-driven show but this second season felt like it shared a lot of the beats and overall pacing as the first season. I kind of wanted things to amp up a bit but instead we kept things are a particular level which was still good but not as great as it could have been. Thus the second season gets 3.5 instances of Luke actually getting hurt out of a possible 5.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails