TV Review: ‘Luke Cage’ – Season 2 Premiere

Netflix take viewers back to the streets of Harlem as Marvel’s bulletproof hero returns…

 

Luke Cage 2-01

Harlem’s protector is back: Mike Colter returns in season 2 of the Netflix Original of Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’ (image belongs: Marvel/Netflix, used for illustrative purposes only).

Spoiler-free review

Starring:  Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Rosario Dawson, Alfre Woodard

Series created by:  Cheo Hodari Coker

Written by:  Cheo Hodari Coker / Episode directed by:  Lucy Liu

What’s it about?

As he finds himself dealing with new-found fame, Luke Cage continues his fight against the criminals of Harlem…

Episode review

Marvel’s bulletproof ‘Power Man’ is back for his sophomore solo outing in the second season of the Netflix Original, Luke Cage.  An enjoyable start to the season, “Soul Brother #1” is very much a continuation rather than a reinvention as it evokes that same stylish sense of gritty urban soul that characterised the previous season.  There are some slightly cartoonish and surprisingly stereotypical elements that creep in every now and then (plus the liberal use of a certain derogatory term is not particularly clever) but generally, through its exemplary casting and themes of heroism as well as an exploration of the current social and political landscape, there’s enough drama and intrigue to get viewers invested.

In the wake of The Defenders, we see Luke Cage as something of a reluctant celebrity, cheered and adored by the people as he continues his fight to clean-up the crime-ridden streets of Harlem.  Whilst he’s a little uneasy with being compared to the likes of Malcolm X and Barack Obama, Cage is non-the-less committed to a cause that he truly believes in but is grounded by everyday troubles, whether it be financial woes (there are plenty profiting from the Luke Cage ‘brand’, but the man himself isn’t seeing any of it), worries about endangering the lives of those he loves (Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple in particular) or the strained relationship with his father (played by House of Cards’ Reg E. Cathey), who denounces his son’s actions as he preaches the virtues of the everyday person finding the hero within themselves as a more ideal alternative to making the world a better place.

Mike Colter slips back into his role with ease and demonstrates that he can deftly convey both the physical and inner strengths of Luke Cage whilst skilfully delivering hints of emotional vulnerability.  Rosario Dawson is equally adept in her reprisal of Claire Temple, as her relationship with Cage grows and facilitates some of the moral debate about how far Harlem’s hero can push himself, reminding him that he’s not completely indestructible.  Simone Missick delivers another fine portrayal as Misty Knight as she deals with the scars of her injury in The Defenders and Theo Rossi turns in a reliably devious performance as Hernan ‘Shades’ Alvarez.  A fine cast indeed and one that’s made even more notable with an awards-worthy effort by Alfre Woodard who makes a welcome return as the devilishly unhinged Mariah Dillard who seeks to tighten her grip on the criminal underworld in the absence of Cottonmouth.

Series creator Cheo Hodari Coker writes this premiere and it’s a solid enough start (despite those aforementioned flaws) that’s enhanced by the slick direction of Hollywood star Lucy Liu.  It remains to be seen how the rest of the season fares and if the inconsistent pacing that tends to plague Marvel’s Netflix shows draws things out, but with the introduction of a promising new villain (Jamaican gangster John ‘Bushmaster’ McIver, played by Mustafa Shakir) with abilities that may prove a challenge for the central hero, there’s definitely potential for season 2 of Luke Cage.

The bottom line:  Luke Cage season 2 gets off to a decent start that’s bolstered by a great cast, well-written characters and some interesting themes.

All 13 episodes of Luke Cage season 2 are available to stream now via Netflix.

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5 thoughts on “TV Review: ‘Luke Cage’ – Season 2 Premiere

  1. Great review, my man. I’m not going to lie, but the premiere didn’t really get me excited for anything that is to come for this season. I do hope it’ll suddenly find something original and brilliant to deliver, but with that first episode, everything just felt like a “continuation” rather than an “improvement” of season 1. I also found some scenes super cringe-worthy… I honestly couldn’t even tell if they were intentional or not, but the episode made me miss Daredevil’s and Punisher’s story-telling style so much more. I am curious to see what kind of villain we’ll get out of Bushmaster though. I wouldn’t be able to live through a season if Mariah was the main focus… Did you finish Jessica Jones by the way? How did you find the season? 😀

    • Fair enough sir, I’ll admit that I don’t regard the Luke Cage series anywhere near as highly as Daredevil or Jessica Jones, but I do like the character and the casting is a major positive. I did finish JJ S2 and I thought it was very good overall, not as strong as S1 but that’s mainly down to Killgrave. Episode 7, which you highlighted in your review was phenomenal! I’d do full season reviews but truth is I’m not a binge-watcher and it takes me quite a while to get through these Netflix shows, as much as I enjoy them!

      • Hahahah no worries man. Binging is not always the best way to enjoy life anyways. Moderation is key. 😏 No pressure for full reviews either. At least asking you here and then about those things and getting an answer is already more than I could ask for. 😂

  2. It’s good to hear that the season is getting off to a fine start. I admit, the show sort of went off the rails towards the end of its first season and its pace was uneven at best. But from what you’ve written, the start of the second season seems engaging. I’ll have to check it out.

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