This is going to have spoilers for episodes one through six of the first season of Luke Cage. I am a fan of both Daredevil and Jessica Jones and liked Luke well enough in his appearance on the latter to be somewhat excited about this new show.
The pilot does a good job of setting up who Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is in his everyday life as well as the major players including the resident shady businessman Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali) and his cousin city councilwoman Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodward) as well as the detective that grew up on the block, Mercedes “Misty” Knight (Simone Missick).
Luke is a fugitive working multiple jobs for cash to stay away from the eyes of the law. By day, he sweeps and cleans the local barbershop for Pop (Frankie Faison) and at night he acts as a dishwasher and substitute bartender at Stokes’ club.
It establishes that he seems like a nice enough guy but I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care about him.
Episodes two and three are a little bit more interesting. They establish the principles that Luke is trying to live by and show that he spends a considerable amount of time struggling with his abilities.
He does what Pop asks of him regarding the robbery and tracking down Chico. After Pop is killed in the crossfire when Cottonmouth’s cronies come looking for Chico. After that, Cage is on the warpath.
We also find out that Cottonmouth has an inside man on the police force. Knight’s partner, Detective Rafael Scarfe (Frank Whaley) kills Chico to calm things down and only escalates the drama further.
For me, episode four is really where the season takes a turn for the better. It’s a flashback origin story that includes Cage getting his abilities and meeting his wife. They even take the time to pay homage to one of the classic comic book looks.
Episode five is great and that is because Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) is back! I like the way she is used to link up all the Netflix series’ so far because I really appreciate that it makes the established universe more cohesive. She is a steady presence that just goes with it every time another person with abilities pops up. That being said, all the vague references to the Marvel movies drives me crazy. I get the need to acknowledge “the incident” every once in a while because it changed the world but all the character references are terrible.
In addition to the return of Temple, episode five features a service for Pop. It is a great scene with all of the characters, even the minor ones, on hand to remind you of where everyone stands in the battle between Cage and Cottonmouth. The eulogy Cage delivers pays great tribute to Pop and really puts Cottonmouth on the spot.
Episode six opens with a radio call-in show where listeners are discussing the bulletproof man. The fact that Trish Walker is the radio host is a nice touch I think. Scarfe didn’t last long after being outed as a mole and apparently he’s taking down half the department with him? And Cottonmouth as well? I think it’s a bit too early for that but who knows.
Seven episodes to go.