Alright, at long last we get to the finale of ‘Luke Cage’ Season 2, and to be honest, this was kind of an odd one for me. I liked the episode and what it accomplished, but as I stated in the last review, this felt more like a bridge to Season 3, putting all the pieces in place to set the stage and a leave a bit of a cliffhanger, with all the actual story and plotlines of Season 2 being mostly resolved in Episode 12. Still, there were some cool moments, and the final fate of all the villains to establish, which was important to see.
Let’s start with Bushmaster, who had escaped the club but now, sadly, it seems his Nightshade addiction has finally caught up to him, and it seems like he will die if he stays in New York. Tilda recommends he head back to Jamaica for treatment with small doses of the drug. Bushmaster agrees but does tell Tilda that Mariah still “needs to burn,” inspiring Tilda to take matters into her own hands. So she returns to Mother’s Touch and examines her recipe books, eventually coming upon a slow-acting poison which we later learn can be administered by a kiss…
Mariah is in jail, and while it is clear that her trial will not go in her favor, she warns the people in the court that she and her family have protected Harlem from gang violence for decades and without her, the streets would become a war-zone. While she fights to survive in prison, taking down one prison gang leader and usurping her crew for her own, Luke learns on the outside that Mariah was right, as he is literally taking gunfire constantly as he struggles to protect people on the street, returning to the Barbershop with smoking bullet holes in his clothes, as DW shakes his head at how Mariah actually was doing some good for Harlem. Sugar and later Shades (who is free now thanks to his deal to turn over Mariah) suggest that Luke should take up Mariah’s mantle and become the new King of Harlem to re-establish order, but Luke is not sure just yet that is the direction he wants to go.
When he sees how bad things are getting though, he makes a decision and visits the Italian Mob Boss Rosalie Carbone, threatening her and other gangs to stay out of Harlem which is now under his protection and makes a deal with them. When DW realizes that Luke is actually going to become the new crime “King” of Harlem, he loses all faith in his hero, telling Luke he is buying the Barbershop with his merchandise money and making it a neutral place once more, and that Luke cannot operate out of there while he is “King.”
Mariah, in an attempt to protect herself, has ALL of her old associates killed, minus Sugar who was kind to her and gave her clothes when her brownstone burned. She learns Luke is coming to visit her, and also about Luke making a deal with the Italians and calls her lawyer in to make some changes to her will, just as she is visited by Tilda, who seems to want to talk and make peace with her mother. Mariah tells Tilda that Harlem’s Paradise is her birthright. However, at the end of the conversation, when Tilda calls her “mother” after kissing her instead of “Mommy,” Mariah guesses something is wrong. Luke visits next and the two speak about Luke taking over Harlem, their conversation interrupted by Tilda’s poison finally working and killing Mariah on the spot. Dying in Luke’s arms, she “thanks” him. Tilda coldly has her mother cremated so she cannot be buried in the Stokes family burial site, while Shades is arrested, his deal with Misty and the cops no longer valid as Mariah is dead.