First a bit of sad news, the man who plays Luke's father, Reg E. Cathey, passed away after production. This was one of his final roles, and according to TMZ, he passed from lung cancer. Which means he was in the midst of fighting while filming for Netflix. RIP good sir, our thanks go you to you for all the fine roles you've given us.
The first season of Luke Cage was a fun watch, with various elements to make it slightly more complicated than just a basic Marvel character story. They had 13 episodes to deliver a good story in and I remember enjoying it. We pretty much had a mostly bulletproof, super powerful hero, akin to almost a Superman, that had very few if any weaknesses. That's both good and bad, but it played out good in the first season.
In the second season of Marvel's Luke Cage, we see Mike Colter return to the role of Cage, while Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Alfre Woodard & Rosario Dawson reprise their roles to either help of hinder Luke in his battle to keep Harlem safe. We're introduced to this season's new bad guy, Mustafa Shakir, who plays John 'Bushmaster' McIver.
The 13 episodes of this second season was full of all kinds of character development... oh, but where do I begin?
Through the season, Luke (Colter) fights his inner demons and his anger, as he comes to realize he can't just let it all out on simple humans.
Misty (Missick) goes through some changes herself, dealing with corruption and that nasty pair of Mariah and Shades.
Shades (Rossi) whom I suspect is a fan-favorite for many who watched him on Sons Of Anarchy, tries to guide Mariah on the proper path of her quests, but has himself an eye-opening experience that changes his focus.
Mariah (Woodard) is one insidious, nasty, calculating beotch who has no heart. All she wants to do is rule Harlem from her club and will use whatever angle there is to get what she wants, which includes maneuvering Luke into some crappy situations or even using her estranged daughter.
Bushmaster (Shakir) is a new kind of bad guy, going up against Mariah and/or Luke, but as you will be able to tell from the continuing dialog, he has it in for Mariah. He's smart, but at times, not that smart.
Claire (Dawson) is instrumental in helping Luke discover that he's starting to lose himself to his own frustration and is key in helping him realize this. Danny Rand (Finn Jones) even makes an appearance for a few moments to help Luke settle a few issues, both within and without. They may also be making a precursor move by making note how there's something different about Danny. Not to mention, this is either a great little homage to the duo's long-term partnership in the comics many years ago, or, could be foreshadowing an upcoming team up series, as they were in the comics.
Then there's Mariah's club, where everyone and everything seems to end up passing through.
This second season of Luke Cage is not overflowing with fight after fight after fight. After events in season one, he's Harlem's hero, to such a point that everywhere he goes, his fans are there, courtesy of an app that shows where he's at all times of the day.
The showrunners seemed to be aware of the idea that there is no point in having Luke face off against the regular gun-toting thugs every episode. What's the point, he's bullet-proof, and as Luke says several times throughout the season, you can't shoot him, burn him, etc., etc.. There's even a scene up front when a thug faces off against him, knowing it's hopeless, and says, "You know I have to try." Luke seemed pretty understanding right before he thumped him into unconsciousness. But cripes, he sure ends up with a lot of holes in his clothes.
And despite his reputation, entire gangs still try to put the kabosh on him, meeting viewers criteria for some Cage action.
The big event comes when he faces off against Bushmaster, and... well, you'll see if you watch the show.
But when the producers realize how trite it would be to have gangsters getting beat up too much by Cage, they turned to some heavy character development throughout the season. We delve deeply into Mariah's motivations, her daughter's (Gabrielle Dennis) reasoning for not being around up until now, Shades background and so much more. But to be honest, we delve into the intricacies of characters a lot, while we also get treated to quite a bit of soul music from Mariah's club. To be honest, if you love character exposition and ambience, this show has a serious amount of that. But if you want to be pragmatic, there's a ton of filler that could have been skipped and the season could have gone 10 instead of 13 episodes. But this is also part of what made the show stand out, excellent exposition.
Luke and Misty's personal journeys was really the backbone of the story, as we watch Luke resolve his inner issues with his father and himself while Misty faces the easy way out of her issues at first, but things turn around and it goes from there.
All in all, action junkies won't like this show, but it's well tempered between story and action, something you don't always see, even in Marvel products.
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