Y’all…I finished watching the second season of Luke Cage on Jun. 29, and man…it was good. Damn good. I was pleasantly surprised, considering how disappointed I was with Jessica Jones’s second season. It took me a week to binge the entire season, and the only reason it took that long is because of my day job. If I had more free time, I’m sure I would’ve watched all 13 eps in about two days. It was that doggone fantastic. So much so, that I purposely missed Claws, Pose and the 2018 BET Awards to binge some episodes (although when it comes to this year’s BET Awards, I don’t think I missed much).
The second season picks up where The Defenders left off. Luke is back in Harlem trying to protect the city he loves, but now, he’s a bit more of a local celebrity. He finds himself fighting a lot more than bad guys. He’s also fighting with some internal issues, which include crossing the fine line between being a hero and being a villain, and whether or not he should forgive his father for turning his back on him when he needed him most. Of course, Mariah and Shades (who are now officially a couple) make Luke’s life harder with their shenanigans and their own personal battles. To make matters worse for both parties, another villain comes into the mix named Bushmaster, a Jamaican crime lord that has a personal vendetta against Mariah and her family, and also carries a disdain for Luke, considering that his strength and power is nearly equal to Bushmaster’s.
This current season had all the usual stuff that makes it great: action, intriguing plot, stellar performances, hot love scenes, and an even hotter man (Luke). Even Danny Rand aka The Immortal Iron Fist and Colleen (Danny’s homegirl) made appearances (more on that later). However, this season of Luke Cage had a little something else going on with it as well…it was really deep. Season two was chock full of recurring themes that manifested from demons that nearly every main character had to face, and not all of them were able to overcome them.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING WILL CONTAIN SLIGHT SPOILERS TO THE NEW SEASON OF LUKE CAGE. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE SECOND SEASON YET, I SUGGEST YOU DON’T READ ANY FURTHER!
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
Throughout the season, Luke struggles with the true meaning of being a hero. Luke believes that in order to protect Harlem, he has to do whatever he can to get the job done, by any means necessary. This means sometimes stooping to the bad guys’ level. There’s a scene—without giving too much away; as I said, these are slight spoilers—where Luke is confronted with a no good so-and-so that lays hands on his baby mama and child, so Luke decides to give him the same courtesy. Needless to say, Luke beats the man half dead. I have to be honest, I didn’t shed not one tear for that fool. However, Claire wisely confronts Luke about the dark path he’s going on and they have this exchange:
Luke: I’m finally getting results, Claire. Shit’s getting done. Pops always talked about Kenyatta*, right? I see his point. I’m rough, but I’m still a hero.
Claire: Really? If beating your chest around town is what you need to call yourself a hero, then I question your understanding of the word. This shit is changing you, Luke.
Luke: It’s making me more of who I am.
Ironically enough, Mariah fights the same struggle with heroism. We as the audience know that she’s far from being a hero, but Mariah honestly believes in her mind that she’s the one and only savior of Harlem, and continues to struggle with being in “the life,” and trying to become 100% legit. She even has a conversation with her daughter Tilda (a very interesting new character), that’s very similar to the one Luke had with Claire:
Mariah: Your great-grandmother was a ghetto philanthropist. Your cousin Cornell financed all of my campaigns. Now I am a legit philanthropist. That’s the American way, girl.
Tilda: You’re a crook and a liar.
Mariah: I serve Harlem! And yes, I will do whatever it takes! Your profession is not too pristine, my dear. You never took money from a shady pharmaceutical company for a greater good?
Tilda: That’s why my medicine comes from the ground. To do no harm.
Mariah: It’s better to do a little harm for a whole lot of good than it is to do no harm for jack shit.
Later in the series, Tilda herself is faced with some situations where she has to decide between doing what’s right, or doing what’s best for the people. Seeing how she comes to those decisions—and the effect caused by her decisions—will surprise you.
Another huge theme in Luke Cage’s second season is vengeance. Bushmaster’s taste for vengeance against Mariah’s family makes him blind to everything else around him, and his loved ones warn him that his vengeance can be his downfall. Sure enough, we begin to see his desire for revenge eat away at him. Bushmaster’s uncle tells him midway through the series that “an eye for an eye makes the world blind.” It turns out truer words have never been spoken.
After Bushmaster comes at Mariah in the worst way possible, she decides to seek out her own vengeance and becomes everything that she once hated. She’s able to see Bushmaster squirm a bit, but she loses her soul in the process.
Forgiveness is one of the other big themes of the second season. This issue mostly affects Luke alone, considering that Mariah and Bushmaster aren’t trying to forgive any damn body for their trespasses. As I mentioned previously, Luke is reunited with his father this season, and the initial meeting is pretty damn tense. Unlike Jessica Jones, who didn’t know her mother was still alive, Luke his well aware that his father is very much alive, but would rather go on as if he wasn’t around.
Once again, Claire can read Luke like a book, and she knows that a lot of his anger stems from the fact that he can’t forgive his father for his past sins (yep, preachers sin, too!). Claire warns that if Luke can’t forgive his father, his anger and resentment will continue to consume him…much like Mariah and Bushmaster’s anger and resentment consumed them. Hmmm… You could say that this ties into the vengeance theme, and in a way, it does. However, Luke has the good sense not to go that route. Luke would rather his father just leave him be. Do they ever bury the hatchet and rekindle their relationship? Watch and see.
All this isn’t to say that this season of Luke Cage was without its flaws, because it wasn’t. One of the things I had an issue with is that Danny aka Iron Fist only appeared in one episode. Come on! Y’all could’ve at least let him stick around for two episodes, especially considering that he was giving Luke some pointers on how he could defeat Bushmaster. That was a wasted cameo. The same thing goes for Colleen. She was teaching Misty to not let the loss of her arm make her feel worthless, and the time she spent with Misty helped her be herself again. Then, poof! Colleen was gone, too. Wasted cameo. That’s it. Everything else about the show was gravy.
I’m sure most of y’all have watched the second season of Luke Cage by this point, but if you haven’t, I definitely recommend it. I know that the Netflix Marvel Universe hasn’t delivered in the past few months with Jessica Jones and The Defenders having lackluster seasons as of yet, but this season of Luke Cage certainly delivered. Go check out this dark chocolate Boy Scout immediately. 😍😍
SIDE NOTE: I’m so sorry it took me this long to get this published. Between all the overtime I’ve had to put in at my day job, my birthday last week (I’m officially 37! Gettin’ on up there!), and these sinuses killin’ me softly day after day, I was lucky if I could produce two paragraphs a day! However, I finally got this bad boy finished for y’all! Sorry about the delay!
—Written by Nadiya
What did you think about season two of Luke Cage? Was it as good as the first season, better, or just average? Did you think the recurring themes were deep? Did you notice some other themes in the show that I didn’t mention? Do you think Danny and Colleen’s appearances were wasted, or did they spend the right amount of time on the show? Let me know in the comments section!
*Kenyatta is the main series from a book series written by author Donald Goines. His character is that of a black militant man that takes upon himself and his crew to rid Detroit of drug dealers and racist cops anyway they have to.