Luke Cage has been the sensible force in the Defenders since day one. His hard-hitting no-nonsense approach went down well with fans and whilst he may not have become their leader he is certainly the most respected.
In season 1 we saw him rise up against the brutal regime of Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes and Willis ‘Diamondback’ Stryker. His righteous mission to protect Harlem from gangstas was a gripping struggle and when the series ended it seemed we had a new villain in Mariah Dillard.
Season 1 was something fresh from Marvel and it was played perfectly so season 2 had a lot to live up to.
The following contains spoilers
How did it fare?
Season 2 would see Luke (Mike Colter) face not only Mariah (Alfre Woodard) but also a new threat in the guise of Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir).
Mariah is trying to go legit by selling her anti-Luke Cage weapons to one of three interested parties to fund a takeover of a plastics company that would make her a billionaire. One of the factions vying for the weapons is The Yardies, a Jamaican crew who are taken over by Bushmaster. He kills the other faction leaders and completes the deal.
All is not well though as he sets his sights on taking down Mariah after it becomes clear that the Stokes family killed his relatives to build their empire. He believes himself to be the true heir to Harlem and starts causing chaos.
This story is played out really well although admittedly the series doesn’t have anything different from the first series. It’s still Luke Cage taking out gangstas. Yes Bushmaster is powerful and beats Luke a few times and yes the twist of them both being after the same villain is interesting but ultimately it’s much the same.
What this series does really well is to create believable characters. You genuinely hate Mariah and her relationship with Shades (Theo Rossi) is both creepy and intriguing. Shades is a major character in both seasons but he really steps it up this time around. You know he has a plan but it never comes to fruition. He’s still every bit the cold and calculating psychopath but not there’s an agenda, which is great.
Murder Pon Da Yard
Bushmaster is a brilliant villain and is played with real menace. His unwavering focus on his mission to destroy the Stokes family is thoroughly believable and by the end, you actually feel sorry for him. It just shows the quality of the writing that whenever Luke Cage stops him from finishing the job you actually can’t help but question why he would bother.
There was also a good cameo from fellow Defender Danny ‘Iron Fist’ Rand who helps him to focus when things are getting tough. There are some great fight sequences from them which really makes us hope for another Defenders season in the near future.
Another major character in this season was Mariah’s daughter Tilda Johnson (Gabrielle Dennis). Mariah tries to use her to further her political career but she’s rightfully sceptical. The clever twist is that she owns an apothecary in Harlem which becomes handy for Bushmaster’s voodoo rituals. By the end of the season, she’s fully done with Mariah, especially after some harrowing revelations about her true father, and she aids Bushmaster in trying to kill her mother. In fact, it’s Tilda who eventually kills her, poisoning her in prison. The final scenes very much lead us to believe that she’s a future villain that Luke Cage will have to deal with.
There were plenty of good subplots going on this season too, many of which will have big implications for the future of the series.
Friends in High Places
Misty Knight (Simone Missick) struggles in her role at the NYPD after losing her partner and her arm in season 1. She becomes a real sidekick to Luke and a friend in the police is surely what every vigilante superhero needs. By the end of the season, she’s promoted after uncovering a mole in the department and making a risky deal to bring Mariah in.
Whilst D.W (Jeremiah Craft) is very much a supporting character, his actions throughout the series have big implications for events and the future. His merchandising takes off big time and his Luke cage tracking app becomes a real thorn in Luke’s side. He’s a loyal friend to Luke despite his ruthless money making schemes but in the end, he doesn’t like where Luke is headed and tells him to leave Pop’s Barbershop after he buys it. Something tells us he’ll have a lot to show us in the next season.
Rise to the throne
All this leads us on to the ending. After Mariah’s death, she leaves Luke the club, Harlem’s Paradise, which he accepts. His view is that all negative business passes through the club so he can keep an eye on it from above. He also brokers deals with the Italian and Chinese drug lords to keep them out of Harlem. Unfortunately, to Misty, D.W and Tilda it very much looks as though he’s just taking over from Mariah as the new kingpin.
Will Luke be tempted by the money and power or will he remain true to Harlem? Let’s face it, most of the villains have all said they are looking out for Harlem’s citizens, will Luke be the same?
It was a great way to end the season and left us wanting more, which ultimately is the purpose for any season finale.
Whilst the season may not have brought us anything particularly new it was thoroughly entertaining. As has been the case with all the Netflix Marvel series’ it has been suitably written for adults and pulls no punches.
This was another brilliant series and much like the first season was complimented well with a great soundtrack. We certainly tracked down many of the artists featured and have been listening to them constantly.
We really look forward to another season and also hope that another season of The Defenders comes along soon so we can get our Netflix Marvel fix.
Ultimately this was another triumph of a season and we loved it.
Season 1 and 2 of Luke Cage are available to stream now on Netflix.