TV Review: Marvel's Luke Cage - Season 1 Finale "You Know My Steez"

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EPISODE 13: "You Know My Steez"

SYNOPSIS: With all of Harlem bearing witness, Luke takes on the fight of his life in hopes of emerging as the defender his city needs.

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REVIEW: When the fight between Luke and Diamondback broke out at the end of the previous episode, the first thought that I had was how were they going to stretch the face-off to a full hour? Clearly, a battle of that scale was never going to happen on a series like Luke Cage, but what followed was so much better. For the first time since the inception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have an ending that lives up to the potential of the material. This season doesn't end with a nice bow and the good guy getting the girl after defeating his adversary. No, Luke Cage ends with a downer of a finale but one that portends big things for this show in the future while doing what everything else in the MCU has not been able to do: be like a comic book. 

Interspersed with a flashback to Luke and Willis Stryker as teenager learning to box, the big fight between good and bad guy erupts in Pop's Barbershop before spilling out into the streets of Harlem. Like any good street fight, civilians egg on the combatants, most of them rooting for Luke. Stryker, equipped in a supersuit of Hammer tech, is essentially bulletproof and able to absorb anything Luke throws at him. He also strikes back and is able to injure his half brother, the first equal opponent we have seen on this series. The fight is long and arduous and draws out Misty, who loses her phone in the scuffle while Mariah and Shades try to get away. Shades drops the dossier that can exonerate Luke but with all of the craziness around them, no one can do much but watch the fight. Claire leaves Candance with her mom and rushes to Luke's side and gives him the emotional support he needs to finish this.

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Harkening back to advice a young Stryker gave Luke, the former Carl Lucas apologizes to his half brother while taking a barrage of hits. He wears Stryker down enough to crush his suit and be victorious to the delight of the citizens of Harlem. It is a powerful sequence that ends with Stryker taken into custody by Misty as well as Luke being arrested for the supposed murders his antagonist pinned on him. Claire refuses to leave Luke's side and the pair share a corny take-out dinner while Misty triumphantly questions Mariah. For the first time, we see cracks in Mariah's exterior but it is all too simple. Shades found Misty's phone and draws out Candace, executing her and giving the NYPD nothing with which to hold Mariah for her involvement in the death of Cottonmouth or Diamondback's plans. Misty loses her shit and almost her job. The cherry on top comes when Mariah's press conference revealed that Luke Cage is actually Carl Lucas which draws the Marshals to Harlem to take him back to prison. Without the dossier, he is out of luck.

Before heading back to Seagate, Luke passionately kisses Claire. To be honest, I fully expected Luke and Misty to end up together, but I really enjoy the amount of screen time that Rosario Dawson has gotten this season. Plus, she seems a better fit for this iteration of the character. I just hope Jessica Jones is okay with this when the crew teams up for The Defenders. As Luke is led away to prison, we get a stirring closing montage set to a performance by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at Harlem's Paradise. The club, now run by Mariah, is shown back in order. Mariah kisses Shades which cannot bode well for season two. Misty also arrives at the club, her hair up in an exact throwback to her character from the pages of Marvel Comics. We also see Bobby Fish discover the dossier which clearly means that Luke will be freed sooner rather than later, but Luke has also come to terms with closing a chapter of his life and hopefully will be ready to open a new one. What doesn't look good for Luke is Diamondback in a hospital bed recovering from their battle as Dr. Burstein looks on with an evil smile on his face.

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I was very impressed with the final episode of Luke Cage. As it has done all season, this episode relies heavily on music and political references to the life of African-Americans living in this country, specifically New York City. It does so in a way that doesn't condescend to the viewer while driving the message home about hope for a group of people who are often left without a hero to look up to. The season also ends on a creative high as the writers did not rely on killing off their villain but rather setting him up to come back stronger and more evil than ever in the future. With Daredevil having left Wilson Fisk alive and now Diamondback on the road to recovery, there could be a nice cabal of bad guys ready to face off against The Defenders next year. Here's hoping everything can be as good as this season has been.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Claire offers to get an attorney for Luke, saying she knows a good one. This is a reference to Matt Murdock. 

Final Verdict:

Season Verdict:

Luke Cage is by far the most balanced and well executed of the Marvel/Netflix series to date. As much as I enjoyed the faithful recreation of Matt Murdock and the unique themes of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage delivers on all fronts. It works to present a superhero that many audiences may not be knowledgeable of and injects him into a contemporary setting reeling from the real life politics of race in America. Luke Cage faces these issues head on and makes this bulletproof black man a symbol for an entire cultural group that has otherwise been without a relatable hero. But, the series manages to present this in a way that is inviting for viewers of any race or creed and that is proof enough that Luke Cage is worthwhile viewing. Plus, I am astounded that we got a superhero property from Marvel that didn't kill of the villain or end things on a happy note. That in and of itself is worthy of a stellar review.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S LUKE CAGE: Luke Cage will return in THE DEFENDERS, premiering in 2017 on Netflix.

Source: JoBlo.com



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