This was mostly a really strong episode. That is, until the last few minutes, when it became a horror show.
The three major plotlines here were about coping with the fallout from the last episode. But not just coping, healing through the trauma. Misty and Mariah both had emotional fallout, but for very different reasons. Luke and Claire had to deal with the physical ones.
Misty's entire conversation with the department psychologist was pretty interesting, delving deeply into her motivations and the roots of her personality. Needing to always be in control, Misty has to be the person in front of a problem, visualizing the moving pieces and putting together the puzzle. Her driving desire to help others was forged when a friend of hers was beaten and killed when Misty left her to get a drink of lemonade on a hot day. Which ultimately means her entire life as a cop was built on displaced guilt.
Of course that means her actions -- her inability to notice Scarfe's criminal behavior, letting Diamondback get her gun, and attacking Claire -- go against her normal character. They were things she had to work out, both professionally and emotionally, to get back to herself again. She also blames herself for misjudging Luke, but the irony of course is that out of all those other things she did wrong, he is the one thing that she was right about, a good person and a hero. I just hope she sees that by the end of the season.
Mariah, on the other hand, doesn't really move past her emotional rage. She just shuts down a bit and almost pretends that she had nothing to do with Cornell's death. She comes across as both a bit broken and also psychotic, a perfect match for Stryker's murderous brand of crazy. It doesn't help that Shades is manipulating everything for a purpose of his own, including Mariah. It's almost as if he isn't working for Diamondback after all, but is doing things to suit his own agenda.
Luke basically just suffered through the episode, almost stumbling along until he met up with Claire. Unfortunately, he ended up in a bad confrontation with a couple of cops and did what he could to escape without doing too much damage. Except he lost his composure at the cop who emptied his clip at him, throwing him onto the squad car and into the camera filming the whole scene. But that video is also kind of the solution to the whole mess, because Luke protected that cop so it shows him acting heroically then reacting to the cop's lack of judgement.
The second half of Luke's journey was perhaps even worse, when they arrived at Doctor Burstein's home and asked for help. Claire was awesome as usual, keeping her cool and protecting Luke as well as she could, but the only solution to Luke's wounds appears to be a risky and truly gross procedure involving freaking boiling acid. I know it's a comic book-based series, and this character has the experiment origin, but come on. Did we really need to see Luke screaming in pain like that?
Luke waking up in the trash was a pretty on the nose metaphor.
Stryker killing so casually was shocking at first. Killing the entire table of gangsters was also one of the highlights of the episode.
Did Mariah actually want out of the game, or was she just deluding herself into thinking she was?
So Luke's skin is basically like an abalone shell, layers upon layers interlocking until they are impenetrable. Okay.
According to the internet, DWYCK stands for "Do What You Can Kid." FWIW.
Stryker: "Luke Cage ain't dead 'til you find his goddamn body." Josie's Law.
Misty: "I don't just seek justice. I stalk it."
This series feels like one long chess game, some major pieces were just sacrificed and now our heroes have to learn how to play on the new board.
3 out of 4 Baths of boiling acid.
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.