As an unintentional rule of thumb, the sequel is often superior than the first film or videogame (e.g. Empire Strikes Back, Road Warrior, The Dark Knight, Godfather 2, Modern Warfare 2, Red Dead Redemption, etc) but does this also applies to streaming based series such as Netflix's Luke Cage?
Well, after I have done some series binge watching on and offline via Netflix's app, we're about to find out.
Based on the Marvel Comic and the very first Black American Superhero, the titular character returns for a second installment and this time, all hell up in Harlem is breaking loose starting with an unexpected "run in" with Johnny McIver who calls himself; Bushmaster!
Luke, the blackman of steel and celebrated hero of Harlem has gotten a less than favorable reputation after getting knocked on his ass as Johnny claims himself Harlem's new badass. But his main agenda is reclaiming his birthright by destroying Mariah Dillard's criminal empire. Can Luke prevent a full scale gang war by stopping Bushmaster from killing Black Mariah, or in certain cases, why should he?
The series is somewhat divided into 3, 4 or even 5 story arcs with some slow burns during the first few episodes but gradually picks up the pace. In the meantime, the reactions from thugs when trying to take Luke down whether its regular firearms, fire or bombs never gets old!
However, there's a nasty surprise waiting for the indestructible Harlem legend that literally knocks him on his ass!
Among the recurring cast of characters, Mercedes "Misty" Knight returns and this time, has a more prominent role throughout the series, after losing her arm during the events from Netflix's Defenders, Knight struggles to cope with her ordeal and her fellow officers as well as thugs, arent making things much easier due to a few insensitive one armed jokes.
Misty's arc may come off a bit hamfisted ( how the physically challenged can overcome any obstacles and hardship.) But it works in the sense that she utilizes more of her brilliant detective work, which "places" her within the crime scene as demonstrated during last season.
For those who are familiar with Knight's background, yes, she receives that special "gift" from the Rand Corporation that does it come in handy soon afterwards!
Of course Marvflix mainstay Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) as the romantic interest, only to face disillusionment in due time as Cage's love life is put to the test when being called out for his extreme actions which adds a damper on his love life later on.Then there's Cage's lil homie DW, part comedy relief, and more of Luke's moral compass.
I gotta love the forced callbacks from DW, when he's hocking his brand t-shirts.
But its really the arc that has Luke reconnect with his estranged father played brilliantly by the late Reg E. Cahill and the chemistry between the two during this arc, is what's needed whether its cathartic or humanizing. As a great actor with an impeccable stoic voice, Cahill is sorely missed. Rest In Power, " Mr. Querns".
Bad Motherfu...shut yo mouf!
Also returning in season 2, is Alfie Woodard as the cunning Gangsta femme fatale, Black Mariah and her partner slash lover, Shades (Theo Rossi) I’ll say this, after the disappointing villainess from Defenders, played by Sigourney Weaver's Alexandria, Woodard's portrayal as Cage's biggest nemesis, is more than refreshing especially when we actually see how ferocious and uncompromising Mariah is.
Plus, there's more of a backstory which involves a few revelations in regards to her family history.
Alfie brought her A-game in the 2nd season of Luke Cage that somewhat made me forget about the enigmatic Madame Gao!
I also admire the character progression of Shades, and how he has an epiphany after experiencing one or two unfortunate situations.
Can even a low life scumbag like Hernan find redemption?
Rounding out the cast, of "scumbags" , are a few characters you’ll love to hate, even more than the major players themselves!
Both Cockroach and "Piranha" Jones often comes to mind since one is a lowlife piece of shit, while the other is an opportunist Public relations thug who takes advantage of Cage's unexpected dilemma, (Thanks to Cockroach.) by hiring him as some spectacle slash bodyguard slash "pet nigga". I won't delve any further but things have its way or working out. In layman’s terms, Karma can be a real bitch!
I can't neglect to mention how awesome Bushmaster was. Not only did he come equipped with a set of combat skills, but a very compelling backstory, making one feel empathy for his plight. Things aren't always what they seem as I found out later on. If you thought Kilmonger was gangsta..
Rounding out the cast, of "scumbags" , are a few characters youll love to hate, even more than the major players themselves!
Both Cockroach and "Piranha" Jones often comes to mind since one is a lowlife piece of shit, while the other is an opportunist Public relations thug who takes advantage of Cage's unexpected dilemma,(Thanks to Cockroach.) by hiring him as some spectacle slash bodyguard slash "pet nigga". I won't delve any further but things have its way or working out. In layman's terms, Karma can be a real bitch!
I can't neglect to mention how awesome Bushmaster was. Not only did he come equipped with a set of combat skills, but a very compelling backstory, making one feel empathy for his plight. Things aren't always what they seem as I found out later on. If you thought Kilmonger was gangsta.
I noticed a few comparisons between this season and Starz' highly acclaimed POWER.
Whether it’s the nighttime cinematography, the criminal empire, uncompromising dialogue where dropping the N-word sporadically for the sake of realism.
In the case of FOX's Empire comparison, you have the shoehorning of various musical acts performing at Mariah's club
and I noticed quite a few familiar faces, some legendary and some palatable.
I loved the mixed Soundtrack of this season and if available at the time of this writing, will purchase the whole damn album!
Honestly, it’s one of the highlights of the second season. If it aint the intro/outro of the series, it’s the great combination of Blues, Rap and Reggae, that pays service toward the black cultural music scene along with the fictional Harlem renaissance that's a world of its own! And for those who cry about a 99% Black cast, let me remind you how shows such as Game of Thrones, have little to no black characters and the ones they have such as Grey Worm, are less than favorable portrayals! He's a goddamn eunuch while Misandra is a former slave!
I rest my case.
Honestly, its one of the highlights of the second season. If it aint the intro/outro of the series, its the great combination of Blues, Rap and Reggae, that pays service toward the black cultural music scene along with the fictional Harlem renaissance that's a world of its own! And for those who cry about a 99% Black cast, let me remind you how shows such as Game of Thrones, have little to no black characters and the ones they have such as Grey Worm, are less than favorable portrayals! He's a goddamn eunuch while Misandra is a former slave! I rest my case.
Fans of the comic, will love the well placed Easter eggs and callbacks i.e. the Hero for Hire arc, the "abandoned theater" and of course, iconic "Where's my money, honey"?
(For the uninitiated, that reference is from Hero for Hire #9 where Luke goes to Latveria after Dr.Doom stiffs him.)
Of course no Marvflix series wouldnt be complete without a few cameos of characters from the conjoined series. (I.e. Daredevil, Iron Fist.)but i'll leave it to you, the viewer to find out who shows up but needless to say, you wont be disappointed!
If you like the 1st season of Luke Cage, you're gonna love his second outing! Its rife with various story pieces leading to one hell of a puzzle! It has its share of slow burns, but with a heavy dose of action, suspense clever dialog accompanied by social commentaries and good Harlem scenery, Netflix's Luke Cage is not likely to dissuade one from watching the entire series. Blink and you'll miss something great! The second time, is truly a charm!
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