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Harlem’s Hero returns in season two of Luke Cage. Picking up after the events of The Defenders, Luke Cage opens with our title bulletproof hero infiltrating a narcotics operation to track down the source of the inner city’s hot new drug, an extremely potent strain of heroin called “Luke Cage”. The episode quickly reveals what’s been happening in Harlem since the end of The Defenders and season one of Luke Cage.
The season opener, Soul Brother #1 is actress Lucy Liu’s Marvel directorial debut but she’s no stranger to directing episodic television having helmed a few episodes of Elementary. The episode reacquaints us with the series players including the good: Luke Cage (Mike Coiter), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and Misty Knight (Simone Missick) as well as the bad: Mariah Dilard (Alfre Woodard) and Shades (Theo Rossi). We also meet some new players looking to get a piece of Harlem’s underground by taking over Mariah’s gunrunning operation: Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir), Cockroach (Dorian Missick) and El Rey (Otto Sanchez). The episode is a great opener it quickly establishes the plot, the character motivations and their obstacles. It also reestablishes the Luke Cage tone: sultry, soulful and spicy – just like Harlem.
As much about style as it is about story, the second season starts off with an extra dose of Harlem culture. The heavy handed Harlem references aren’t out of character for Marvel’s Netflix productions as the New York setting is key for this cinematic universe. While its annoying for Daredevil to constantly remind us that it’s all about Hell’s Kitchen, there something comforting about the music and preaching of Luke Cage’s Harlem.
The big folly with Luke Cage season one was that it felt like two seasons mashed into one, and the latter half wasn’t all that exciting. One episode in it’s hard to decipher if season two will experience the same shift but I’m hopeful it won’t. Showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker acknowledged that fans were unhappy with the structure of season one so I’m guessing he’s planning something different for season two. So far the series is putting the focus back on Luke and his quest to keep Harlem safe even when his super powers fail him.
Luke Cage Season 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.
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