by Josie Kafka
I’ve got a friend who’s a fight-scene snob. Don’t even get him started on Buffy. Suggest Daredevil—maybe that hallway scene, eh?—and he guffaws. “Americans just don’t know how to do fight scenes,” he says. (He’s American.) And now, whenever I watch a Big Fight Scene Moment, I think of him: how would he say it measures up?
The BFSM at the opening of this episode might not pass my friend’s muster, but it passes mine with flying colors. Watching Luke Cage be superstrong is part of the appeal, and the cuts between past and present were fun. But I also liked the crowd cheering him on. Everyone had an opinion: the cops, Misty, Claire, Mariah, the Harlem denizens we’ve gotten to know over the past thirteen episodes. But it all boils down to what Claire said: “Remember who you are.”
And who is Luke Cage? He may “rep” Harlem, as one man says, but he is not his brother’s keeper. He is his own man, aware of the past, but even more aware of the necessity of moving forward, moving in the direction of life (to paraphrase Cheryl Strayed) rather than regret. Good thing he likes Cuban coffee. Good thing Claire likes him back, because that was the cheesiest of all pickup lines.
There’s a bit of a wrinkle, of course. Luke’s past still exists, even if he’s looking towards the future. He may not be in trouble in New York, but he’s still a fugitive, and the Marshals have come for what’s theirs.
Does that spell the end of Luke’s journey? Probably not. The File of Innocence still exists, and is in Bobby Fish's safe hands. Luke is supposed to be in the upcoming Defenders series. And the moral of this episode—“It’s our responsibility to push forward…Never backwards, always forward, forward always”—hints that Luke will move past his own past pretty quickly.
Will Mariah? As convincing as Mariah's mock-sadness was, Misty Knight had a preponderance of evidence, not to mention her Will Graham ability to reconstruct crime scenes in her mind. I’m a little surprised that Priscilla cut Mariah loose so quickly, even with Candace’s death, but I suppose that sets up Mariah for a future big-bad role with Shades as her sidekick.
Maybe this sets up Misty as a vigilante in her own right; she is convinced the system is broken, and that’s step one on the five-fold path to freelance justicing. So there is forward movement, even if we don’t get a tidy bow on everyone’s story.
• Great news! Claire Temple survived.
• And she carries Kleenex in her coat. I’ve always wanted to be the sort of woman who always has a Kleenex.
• “Most of these guys wear Spandex. Who would have thought a black man in a hoodie would be a hero?”
• Mariah fiddling with her earrings in the interrogation room reminded me of some of the weirdest advice I’ve ever gotten from my great-aunt: If your shoes pinch, wear uncomfortable earrings so you don’t think about how much your feet hurt.
Full confession, guys and gals: I didn’t love Luke Cage. I thought the first five or six episodes were pretty awesome, but Stryker was not my bag. Mysterious reappearing brother who framed Carl Lucas, setting him up to go to Seagate, where he became Luke Cage, who can only be killed by Judas bullets manufactured by Stryker is…too much, I guess. I liked Cottonmouth and Mariah as villains; they felt grounded. Stryker did not.
So it’s hard for me to rate this episode, or even the second half of this season. How many Files of Innocence would you give it, out of four?
Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)