Luke Cage (2016)

Swiss cheese shirt. Car bounces off you. Punching through steel and concrete. Just another day, right?

Luke Cage is an ordinary guy in Harlem. He works random jobs such as wiping floors and washing towels at Pop’s barber shop during the day, and washes dishes at the club, Harlem’s Paradise, at night.

Except Cage isn’t an ordinary guy. He has bulletproof skin and super strength. Through a few flashbacks we learn that Cage got these powers because of an experiment, conducted illegally at Seagate prison where he was wrongfully convicted. However, Cage tries to lay low and doesn’t want to be a vigilante. He moved to Harlem to escape his past.

Harlem is troubled by gangs and mobsters, one of the biggest crime lords is Cornel “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Cottonmouth owns Harlem’s Paradise and uses that as a front for his money laundering and crime business. Cottonmouth’s cousin, councilwoman Mariah Dillard, is also tangled in this criminal business but tries to appear clean.

Cage doesn’t get involved with Cottonmouth’s business, until it gets personal, so he takes it upon himself to bring Cottonmouth down. However Cottonmouth isn’t the only villain, Mariah rises to the occasion with the help of Shades, another sidekick villain, and eventually there’s a new player in town: Diamondback, who has a personal vendetta against Luke Cage.

Luke Cage is framed for murder and crime and he goes on the run trying to clear his name. The only person who believes him is good ol’ Claire Temple. He works with her in trying to stop the big evil masterminds and save Harlem’s soul.

I won’t get into the details as to not spoil it because it’s so damn good.

giphy

Me fangirling over Claire Temple.

Sweet Christmas! What a fantastic show!

First of all, a bulletproof black hero, how awesome and poignant is that? The show tackles racism head on in a clever and nuanced manner. From police brutality and mass incarceration to subtle racism and microaggressions. It brings forth many of the problems in American society and doesn’t do the cheesy magic bullet solution to it but points it out so that we’re more aware of it and then try to solve it.

It also explores black masculinity in a beautiful way through Luke Cage (portrayed skillfully by Mike Colter). He is humanized, not your stereotypical movie thug but a strong, independent, powerful man who has a moral compass and a great sense of humor, and most importantly he isn’t afraid to express his feelings. Cage’s character is amazing and Colter is an amazing actor, there was something very human about him he was fully fleshed out and properly written, I don’t know exactly how to describe it but it was beautiful.

The villain Cottonmouth, played brilliantly by Mahershala Ali, was simple and not as complex as, e.g. Killgrave, but nonetheless, the simplicity of his villainy (classic money embezzler and crime ring leader) allows the true villain of the show to emerge: society. It highlight’s how corrupt, racist, and oppressive society is and how its affect on black folk especially is more detrimental than, say a gang leader. But I loved the villains overall in the show. Speaking of villains, can we talk about Shade and the way he dramatically put his shades before acting? There were these on-the-nose jokes throughout the show that were actually hilarious.

One of my favorite characters in the show was “Pop”, the owner of barbershop where Cage worked and young folk found refuge. And although he served as a classic trope of the elderly figure that serves as a catalyst for the hero’s journey, he was still a lovable and moving character.

The Cage/Temple dynamic was PERFECT. Cage corny as hell and Temple not afraid to point that out. Their banter was light-hearted, sarcastic, witty, and overall entertaining. It’s the type of relationship I’d like to see more of on tv, more talking less sex and PDA.

Music was spectacular, and what made it even better was the use of it as a motif throughout, and I can’t say more because I’d spoil it but there were certain pieces that played a significant part in the plot line.

I loved how they brought in Jessica, Claire, and hinted at Murdock subtly thought the series, it was a great way to set up for the upcoming Defenders series without making it have that annoying sequel-feeling.

The finale was….meh. It could’ve been better, heck the whole show could’ve been better in terms of plot, but it was very creative in terms of world building and character development and creation, and it was witty and funny as hell so that makes up for it.

I have high hopes for season 2 and Defenders.

Score: 4/5

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