TV Review: Marvel's Luke Cage - Season 1 Episode 9 "DWYCK"

Read Luke Cage Season 1 Reviews HERE!


SYNOPSIS: With Luke wounded and on the run, Misty faces a soul-searching interrogation. Mariah’s rise to power takes a dark turn.

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REVIEW: We live in very interesting and unfortunate times when a series centered on a bulletproof black man has to carry such a heavy political and social stake. Marvel's cinematic universe has fared much better on the small screen than the big in dealing with hot button topics, namely Jessica Jones and the sexual assault themes running through the first season. But with the cultural climate related to police shootings in the United States, I was waiting to see how it would be addressed within the world of Luke Cage. It does come up in this episode, albeit in an indirect manner, but it goes to show that the real world does impact our pop culture in various ways. But, this hour of Luke Cage is not so much about race as it is about setting the stage for Luke's return to fighting form. Don't call it a comeback, call it the beginning of the endgame.

With Luke on the run and barely clinging to life, Harlem is ripe for the taking. Only we know Mariah Dillard wants no part of her cousin's shenanigans. At the urging of Shades, Mariah calls together all of the crime lords of Harlem via Domingo Colon to offer a buyout of the Stokes empire so she can return to legitimate practices. Shades receives a visit at Harlem's Paradise from Diamondback who doesn't take kindly to his subordinate trying to take over a piece of his pie. Diamondback learned that Luke Cage is still alive much via a viral police dashcam video. Confronted on the streets of Harlem by two cops, Luke has to fight to survive despite not wanting to injure the officers. The way this scene is presented echoes a lot of news stories of late. Luke is stopped because he is a black man in a hoodie despite not doing anything outwardly wrong. The police open fire on him despite his being unarmed. Unlike the real world, Luke is able to walk away without additional injury. The found footage used for this scene is haunting and feels all the more chilling because of current events. But, it also works to show superheroes are not immune to racial tension.

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Luke eventually makes his way to Claire Temple at her mother's diner. Poring over the USB drive that belonged to Reva, Claire deduces that Dr. Burstein used abalone shells to help forge Luke's unbreakable skin. With Luke the worse for wear, Claire tells him that their only hope may be the doctor from Seagate. As they head to Burstein's home, Mariah has her sitdown with the criminal bosses who are soon killed off by Diamondback. Calling them out for undermining his business, the crazy villain leaves Domingo alive to tell the others that Stryker is in charge while also heeding Mariah's advice to turn Luke Cage into a pariah and marketing the Judas bullet and weapons as a tool to kill enhanced vigilantes. Mariah doesn't want to be a part of the business, but Diamondback insists. I am still convinced that Mariah Dillard will turn into more of a bad guy than she has, but right now this show is all Diamondback. Even Shades who has shown Machiavellian aspirations seems to be taking a backseat to his boss.

At the same time, Misty faces an Internal Affairs investigation after choking Claire in the last episode. Sitting down with an investigator, Misty confronts her demons and why she became a cop in the first place. Recounting the vicious rape and murder of her childhood friend, Misty eventually comes to terms with the fear of death forced onto her by Diamondback holding her at gunpoint. It is a teary and emotional sequence of scenes and one that shows that Simone Missick is more than capable of holding her own in the boy's club of superhero tales. Misty Knight may be the breakout character of this series and one who has earned a lot more screen time in the future. In the end, Misty is too good of a cop to fall prey to one mistake in judgement and is given her gun and badge back to bring in Luke Cage and take down the crime ruining Harlem.

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Claire and Luke make their way to Dr. Burstein's home but the scientist claims he is unable to replicate what gave Luke his powers. Reviewing Reva's USB, Burstein theorizes they could submerge Luke in acid to burn through his skin enough to cut out the shrapnel, but there is no guarantee it will work. Luke is hesitant to go through with the experiment and makes Claire promise to retrieve the USB should he not survive. The experiment is a gruesome scene as we see the restrained Luke wailing and convulsing in a bath of acid, his heartrate shooting through the roof. After the first round, his skin is still impenetrable. Going back under, his heart gives out and Luke seemingly dies. While we all know that he will make it for the rest of the season, it is a tough scene to watch. My theory based on this ending alone is that the next hour would be another flashback hour or Luke will be back to life relatively quickly. Such is the modern television series.

Another solid outing that puts Luke into his most dangerous circumstances to date while also illuminating more about the experiments that helped turn Carl Lucas into Luke Cage. The revealing background that Dr. Burstein gives about the experiment furthers the theory that Jessica Jones may be a result of the same thing that made Luke into what he is. How this will connect to the other Netflix series remains to be seen, but it is cool to see these two series sharing connections like this. I thoroughly enjoyed the development of Misty Knight and Mariah Dillard in this hour and was a but underwhelmed at how much of a back seat that Diamondback took after his focus in the prior episode. With just four episodes to go this season there is still a lot that needs to be explained about Luke and Stryker's past. Here's hoping we see that sooner than later.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: No overt references this episode.

Final Verdict:

NEXT ON MARVEL'S LUKE CAGE: Episode 10 "Take It Personal" - Luke gets closer to the truth about Reva and her part in his fate, while Mariah wrestles with the morality of her new role. Misty hunts for Luke.

Source: JoBlo.com



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