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November 9, 2016

TV Review: Luke Cage (Marvel/Netflix, 2016)

By now, everyone who was going to watch Marvel's latest installment in the Defenders series has binged through all thirteen episodes of Luke Cage. If you haven't, I'll warn you now, there might be some minor spoilers. Also, what have you been doing? After two rounds of Daredevil and Luke's introduction through Jessica Jones, I would think people would be ready for the bulletproof hero for hire. I couldn't wait for this one, and so far, it's my favorite of the bunch.

Luke lives a quiet life working two jobs to make ends meet. After his bar was blown up in part thanks to Jessica Jones, he decides to lay low. Not to mention the headaches he still suffers after she shot him in the jaw with a shotgun. His day job is at a barber shop run by local thug-turned-hero Pop. At night, he sweeps up at Harlem's Paradise, a night club owned by the infamous Cottonmouth Stokes. When a bartender calls in, Luke is forced to take his place for the night, and our story is set in motion.

This is where I'll hold back on spoilers for those that haven't finished the show. There is too much exciting stuff to dig into. I'll give the basics. Cottonmouth has a gun deal set that goes wrong. Other local gang leaders find Cottonmouth to be weakening. His boss, so to speak, Diamondback, sends a henchman named Shades to oversee things. This is where things start to fall apart for Cottonmouth, personally as well as in business. His cousin, local politician Mariah Dillard, does all she can to help him, but between detective Misty Knight and increasing pressure from Luke and Diamondback, Cottonmouth begins to crumble.

There are a few things I can mention without really spoiling anything. If you've seen both Daredevil seasons, you know that Marvel knows how to film a hallway scene. Look for one here. If violent death suits you, look for that in episode seven, and I dare you not to sit with your jaw hanging open. Claire Temple continues to be the connecting thread in all of the series. We do get Luke's origin, and a fun Power Man scene. And yes, he does say "Sweet Christmas" quite often.

An important thing to mention with this series is the political angle. Having a bulletproof black man in a hoodie is no coincidence. With all that is happening in America right now, it's an important message to send. Even Method Man has a cameo and a song about what Luke Cage means to people. It's not something that should be overlooked, and I applaud the writers for focusing on difficult issues.

We still have Iron Fist to look forward to in March, and the Defenders series is coming soon after. All of these characters are officially part of the MCU, so I do believe we'll see them in later movies.Eventually, everything will mesh, and Luke Cage is one of the best pieces Marvel has to offer. Watch this now.

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