We are at about the halfway point with the first season of “Luke Cage” and so far there’s a lot to like about this show, but the last episode felt more like a season finale then the midway point. Cornell is in police custody, Mariah’s world has been pulled apart and Luke thinks his job in Harlem is done.
As it turns out, with Scarfe dead and the police department not wanting a scandal on their corruption, Cornell is getting out of jail. Misty is pretty upset about this and we can see her starting to wonder if Luke’s brand of justice might be the only justice in a case like this. Misty’s boss has been replaced and the new commissioner wants Luke to be the fall guy for this whole mess with Scarfe and Cornell.
Speaking of Cornell, he has finally gotten a win! This is something we have been waiting to see since all that seems to have been happening for the first 6 episodes has been watching Cornell’s kingdom crumble around him. He’s out of jail after shooting a cop, Zip picked up the guns and got them back to Domingo and now all he has to focus on is getting Luke out of Harlem so he can rebuild his empire in peace. With Luke being at the top of his list when it comes to priorities, he has blinders on to everything else, so when Shades tells him to leave Luke in the past and move forward, he ignores the advice. Shades goes to Mariah trying to bait her into taking over the Stokes family business to reclaim the Stokes family name and after being forced out of her seat as congresswoman, it’s starting to look like a viable option.
Cornell asks Luke to come to the club so that they can talk and when he gets there Luke tells him that he’s going to force Cornell to go down to the station and confess everything to Misty. Cornell finally has a trump card on Luke (and it’s about time too), saying that he knows his real name is Carl Lucas and that he’s a fugitive. Is he going to turn Luke in? Nope, he’s going to blackmail him instead, saying that he will keep his secret and that he will use Luke when he wants to. Pretty bold to say to a bulletproof man that can crush your head like a grape. Once Shades finds out that Cornell is blackmailing Luke, he’s worried that Cornell scared him out of town – something that his employer, Diamondback, will not be happy about.
Luke freaks out and tries to flee the city, but Claire convinces him to stay in Harlem and fight for the people he’s going to leave behind under Cornell’s rule. Instead of running, Luke finds Domingo, gets the guns back from him and returns them to Misty to help build her case against Cornell.
We also got a look into Cornell’s past in this episode. We see that as a teenager, he was a natural at music, but with Mama Mable in charge, the arts was not what she wanted Cornell to go into. She started training him for the family business at a young age including the violence that comes with it when he was forced to shoot his own uncle. He wasn’t always this cold – it was behavior that was taught to him. When Mariah comes to Cornell to tell him her life is in shambles because of his feud with Luke, they get into an epic fight. Cornell pushes all the wrong buttons, so she throws him out the window and beats him to death with a microphone stand. Looks like we have a new sheriff in town. Shades shows up and sees what happened – he cooks up a plan to blame this on Luke.
The episode ending with Luke getting shot with the magic “kill all” bullet was a cliffhanger we saw coming since they have been hyping this up for a while now. The fact that it actually worked was fantastic, because now there is a vulnerability to his super strength. Is this going to kill him? Probably not, but it’s definitely going to give Claire a run for her money trying to fix this. We really liked Cornell, but he wasn’t a strong enough villain to go up against Luke – Mariah looks like she could be something special. Episode grade: B
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