As Luke Cage transitions to it’s third act, the show is beginning to lose itself. The first act opened with so much tone and meaning that allowed it to be complex and touch on relevant issues to the character and in real life. The show was a great example of who these street level Marvel heroes stand for and how they instill just as powerful of an impact as the Avengers but within a smaller area. Episode 8 was what began to carry the show into it’s final act, and events and interactions felt really out of place and rushed. Suddenly Luke Cage’s pacing felt weirder than it had been before, and unfortunately, those pains continue over into “DWYCK.”
One of the show’s largest problems has been how it treats the main characters in this episode. There has been such a sudden escalation in what’s happening that all of a sudden everyone feels all over the place. The biggest loss comes with Misty being isolated from the field and anyone aside from a police therapist. After going through a traumatic event with Diamondback, she’s getting checked out, but it hurts to watch such an active character be sidelined. Misty has been a cool supporting character and Luke Cage has utilized her very well until this point. Seeing how she visualizes crime scenes and is able to replay situations based on her attention to detail has made her a unique character but watching her sway back and forth on how she views the law is what makes her compelling. The entire series Misty wrestles with the idea that Luke is a vigilante operating above the law but also recognizes he takes the necessary steps that the police won’t. “DWYCK” stuffing Misty in an interrogation room does have it’s benefits and adds more depth to her character, but it feels like an odd move to isolate her character after such an intense experience.
With the demise of Cottonmouth, Mariah has sort of stepped up in his place and continues to work with Shades and Diamondback. Mariah has been a really hit or miss character this season, but it seems like that’s the point. Mariah struggles with the idea that she wants to clean up her family name and help be a positive representation of Harlem when behind the scenes she is trying to accomplish it by associating with her dirty cousin. One day Mariah feels Cottonmouth is going too far and is against his plan, then the next she seems to be crazier than he is. The character just seems to never know what she wants, and that could very well be on purpose to display a story arc that ends with her accepting who she really is, but for now it only feels like it causes more problems in Luke Cage. Mariah’s character is all over the place and in this episode she continues to dance the line of good, evil and what she truly wants. The character has pretty much been stripped of all her legitimate governing power and everyone is ready to take advantage of her negative public appearance and grab her position of power. Hopefully this is the beginning of the downfall and full corruption of Mariah and towards the season’s end we see her true villainous form come out.
As for Luke himself, “DWYCK,” does a lot with him and some of it feels highly questionable. Luke Cage has had a huge voice on social issues relevant in the country today. A lot of it revolves around the idea of gun violence and the police brutality cases that have been popping up all over the nation. This episode has Luke holding onto his life as he tries to get to anyone who can save him. There comes a point where he is confronted by two cops who think he’s a drunk wobbling around in the street, but when they realize it’s Luke Cage, they draw their guns and try to apprehend him. Luke has been a really calm character so far in this season, and in this situation his decision to knock away the cops feels a little aggressive. It seems relatively believable because the character is functioning off of a lot of adrenaline and fighting for his life, so when dealing with being framed and having his clothes ruined yet again, it makes sense why he might overreact a little bit. Yet, of course someone grabs the footage on video and it goes viral, once again painting the hero in a bad light. Luke Cage has always nailed the social aspects that it wants to touch on, but this one just felt a little bit off. Luke is never afraid to take action when he knows it’s necessary, so his reaction fits in this scene, but it seems like such a forced move to advance the story along and create another inevitable conflict.
“DWYCK” seems to be an improvement from episode eight as Luke Cage pushes the show closer to it’s finale. There is a lot of great information beginning to get revealed and it’s exciting to see Luke struggle before he rises again, stronger than ever. Luke Cage has been a solid show, and although it’s felt like a slower burn to this point, the transformation of this character into a hero has been fun to watch. Episode 9 shows him push through yet another challenge, and although there are some bumps along the way, things definitely seem to be moving back in the right direction with a strong finish ahead.