Denisa and I finished Luke Cage over the weekend, and I’ve been waiting to write a review until I was through with the season. Be aware that I will very much be going into spoilers, so steer clear if you don’t want to know how things end.
I enjoyed the show, but it’s probably my least favorite of the Netflix/Marvel shows thus far. (My favorite, for the record, is Jessica Jones, followed by Daredevil 2, then Daredevil, and then Luke Cage.) Cage has a lot of good things going for it. The hero characters are well done. Cage is very relatable, and I really liked how they incorporated his superpowers. (It’s interesting how they could get away with him being so public about them, using the very public existence of the Avengers to explain it.) The soundtrack was great, and it gave the whole series a nice vibe throughout. I really enjoyed the way the show explored the concept of a “Black man in a hoodie” as superhero. That was very well done. And it had a ton of appearances by vets of The Wire, so how could I not like that too?
But it wasn’t as good in some other areas. Plot was pretty weak in this season. The argument of “Luke Cage is dangerous. He made it so the police started beating up citizens. The answer to this is to give the police better bullets” was beyond weak. Especially in light of the fact that we’ve had very public instances of police brutality, and I don’t remember one single example of anyone saying “and this is why the police need more weapons” bring brought up as a solution. It didn’t make any sense at all. Likewise the motivations behind Diamondback. They never really crystallized for me, and they came across as lame the whole time.
Which leads me to my second critique. The villains, other than Cottonmouth, were lame. Diamondback especially was kind of pathetic. His whole motivation? Daddy liked you better. That’s just weak justification for becoming a terrible human being. (Though it’s not like Trump has had any better justification, so maybe I’m being too harsh?) He just came across as whiny the whole time.
Same with Mariah. She was better, but not a whole lot better. She just wanted extra power, and somehow she was able to game the system to get it. But again, the way she gamed the system made no sense. I just had a hard time accepting the fact that she’d be able to get away with everything she got away with.
On the other hand, I liked the fact that Cage was arrested in the end. That made perfect sense to me, even though it was upsetting. He’s a black man with a prison record. How does he not go back to jail in our society, guilty or not? (And the set up for Daredevil becoming his lawyer is great, too.)
What else? Shades was . . . okay. Kind of vanilla bad guy (but he’s got sunglasses! So he’s unique!) Cottonmouth I liked a lot as a villain, and I wish he’d stayed around longer. I liked the musician/gangster flair he had going. Claire was fine. Misty was good at first, and then progressively more annoying as she kept screwing things up. (The writers needed to decide if she was competent or not. They kept waffling on that.)
I’m totally on board for a second season, and I really did enjoy this one, but in the end I found too many areas lacking for me to really give it a 5/5. Maybe not even a 4/5. It felt forced too often, and that’s not a good thing. It’s probably around a 3.5 for me. I didn’t give any single episode more than a 4/5, after all. (Of the thirteen, 8 were 4s and 5 were 3s.)
What did you think?