And we’re back with our continuing reviews of ‘Luke Cage’ Season 2, this time covering episodes 207-209, titled ‘On and On,’ ‘If It Ain’t Rough, It Ain’t Right,’ and ‘For Pete’s Sake.’ Honestly these were the episodes I was most worried about coming into the season as this is where Season 1 of the series lost a lot of momentum (and an amazing villain, Cottonmouth), and I am pleased to say Season 2 kept it strong right on through the mid-way point, delivering a solid batch of episodes that kept me glued to my seat.
Of course Luke survives drowning in the river, waking up from his life flashing before his eyes just in time to swim back to the surface. He then heads to the church to check on Piranha, and his father tells him Piranha left shortly after Luke did. Luke knows the man is all too likely captured by this point. He meets up with Misty, now a free agent since she is no longer on the force. They do some vigilante work tracking down Piranha and a lead sends them to an auto-shop where yet more of Bushmaster’s men attack.
Luke is impressed by how Misty handles herself in the fight, especially with her bionic arm. I cannot stress enough how great Simone Missick is as Misty Knight, and seeing her fight alongside Luke is awesome, and when they argue over who is the hero and who is the sidekick, I do wonder if she has a point. Still, they are too late as Bushmaster has already killed Piranha, leaving his head in a fish tank. Misty calls in the cops, including Ridenhour who has been trying to get Misty to rejoin the force. They learn that Bushmaster was using Piranha to claim all of Mariah’s assets and Ridenhour reveals he is going to offer Mariah a deal to help them get Bushmaster. Misty is furious at the man for compromising his ethics for Mariah, who she knows he has a relationship with. Luke meanwhile returns to the church to make amends with his father, having learned something from his near-death experience in the river.
Meanwhile, Bushmaster, flush with success, takes all of Mariah’s money and the club, taking ownership of Harlem’s Paradise after Mariah flees, as she realizes Bushmaster will come after her when she learns all her money is gone. Bushmaster’s uncle warns him not to take his revenge too far, and also to be careful about the amount of Nightshade he is taking, but Bushmaster is set on his vengeance. He knows he needs the drug to be able to stand up to threats like Luke Cage. Mariah sends for Tilda and heads to the brownstone to gather her things so they can escape town, but Bushmaster ambushes her and Tilda and leaves them bound in the building as he sets fire to it, revenge for how the Stokes family burned his mother alive years before. Just as Luke and his father really get into their reconciliation, DW bursts in and tells Luke Mariah’s brownstone is on fire, and he heads out to save his enemy, who is very surprised that Luke came after her, and offers to hire him. He instead takes her and Tilda to the police precinct.
Ridenhour meanwhile meets up with Comanche to get more intel, and Comanche is freaking out as Mariah revealed earlier that she was aware there was a snitch and was actively investigating who it might be. And to make things worse, Shades followed Ridenhour to the meet-up and all is revealed, though Comanche tries to pretend Ridenhour was just trying to convince him to snitch, and then kills the police captain as evidence of his loyalty. Shades doesn’t buy it and kills Comanche and sets things up so it looks like the two men killed each other.
Misty meanwhile goes out for a drink and is flirting with a man when she gets the call that Ridenhour was killed. She returns to the precinct to see Mariah there and learns her paperwork never went through so she is still a cop, and currently the highest ranking officer. She tries to interrogate Mariah and later Shades who shows up for Mariah, thinking both were involved in Ridenhour’s death, but they are protected by her high priced lawyer. Sadly for both, the man quits when he learns Mariah has no money left and Shades is hung out to dry, though his prep working in wearing gloves and burning his clothes after the shooting means they have no evidence on him. They eventually have to let him go.
Mariah and Tilda leave the station and are shot at by Bushmaster’s men, and are only saved by Luke. Luke realizes Bushmaster is gunning for him and Mariah and heads to the church to check on his dad, arriving in time to stop an attack mid-Mass and fleeing with his father. Tilda and Mariah go back to Mother’s Touch and as Mariah explains to her daughter that she only gave her up to the Johnson’s for foster care because Mama Mable forced her to, they too are attacked by Bushmaster’s men, though Misty and Detective Nandi Tyler show up in time to save them. Seeing no other choice, Luke and Misty contact Danny Rand to help them find a safe-house while they figure out what to do about Bushmaster.
Danny sets them up at a new pharmaceutical building still under construction, where Luke, James, Tilda, Mariah and Misty talk, with Luke and Misty reluctantly deciding to offer Mariah a deal (full immunity! but only because Mariah demanded nothing less) so they can bring down Bushmaster. While Misty goes back to the precinct to work out the arrangement, Luke finishes his talk with his father. Mariah and Tilda finish their talk, revealing that Tilda’s actual father was Peter Stokes and she was a product of rape. Mariah then coldly tells Tilda that she has never truly loved her because when she looks at her she can only see Peter, which breaks Tilda’s heart.
Misty arrives at the precinct and learns Deputy Chief Priscilla Ridley is now in charge, and she agrees to Misty’s deal, citing the greater good of bringing down Bushmaster to end the gang war, though Nandi does not like the proposition, and instead decides to cash in on the $1 million dollar bounty Bushmaster placed on Luke, Mariah, and Tilda, revealing their safe-house to the gangster. Which is why when Misty goes to Harlem’s Paradise with a warrant she and her men find it empty, as Bushmaster and his people have already closed in on Luke’s whereabouts. While Mariah escapes the fight, Luke fights Bushmaster again, using what he learned from the last two duels to finally best the man, and Bushmaster is arrested, with his men going down as well. Mariah meets up with Shades who has captured Bushmaster’s uncle, and they begin to plan their revenge. Meanwhile, Bushmaster uses a hidden explosive to blast his way out of the police van he was being transported in, escaping, but grievously injuring himself.
These episodes were a lot of fun, and had some truly powerful moments (including Mariah’s whole reveal of Tilda’s backstory, where both actresses were phenomenal), and I also really enjoyed all of the screen time Reg. E Cathey got in this trio of episodes, and all of his interactions with Luke, Mariah and Tilda in the Rand facility. They really showcased his character and brought some humanity to everyone, even Mariah, and that is something I really enjoy about this show, even “villains” like Mariah are multi-dimensional. Looking forward to seeing how Mariah gets her revenge on Bushmaster now that he has been taken down a peg, and to seeing what Misty is going to do to Nandi once she realizes the woman betrayed them. See you back here soon for the review of the next three episodes!