Since it’s debut back in September of 2016, Luke Cage has become a phenomenal icon in both African American superheroes and constructions of storytelling for comics being adapted into the Marvel – Netflix Verse. With the success of its first season leaving everyone in wait for his next appearance, which was delivered in spades during his time on “The Defenders”, the second season of Luke Cage was anticipated in excitement by fans; old and new.
Mike Colter returns in his role as Luke Cage, Harlem’s protector, with the continued pursuit of keeping Harlem safe from organized crime and protecting the streets he vowed to never abandon. His continued devotion in this pursuit is explored throughout the season, after the incidents from the first season, which aligned with the experiments that gave him the powers he currently possesses, the mark of being an ex-convict and finding out about the unexpected arrival of his brother, Willis Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey), leading to a bout that changed him in more ways than one when he re-encounters his father as played by Reg E. Cathey in probably one of his last roles before his passing in February of 2018.
The returning cast for season two includes most of the cast from the first season, throwing new faces and developmental characters to enhance the already intriguing plot that was made for this season’s developments. All of the returning cast deliver stunning and incredible performances, adding depth to the emotion of past and current events as the season goes along with the changes to Misty Knight (Simone Missick) since losing her arm in “The Defenders”, Claire Temple’s (Rosario Dawson) continued relationship with Luke after his exoneration from Seagate, Mariah “Stokes” Dillard (Alfre Woodard) descent into crime around/in Harlem and the continued exploits provided to her by Shades (Theo Rossi) who was a former accomplice of Willis Stryker, and Mariah’s cousin, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali)
In addition to a few new faces, the two new, prominent characters that make their introductions within the series are that of Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) and Tilda Johnson (Gabrielle Dennis). Bushmaster’s introduction into the Netflix series had been drastically adjusted from his comic counterpart, however, much like with a lot of things that the Netflix verse does, especially in the case of Luke Cage, it incorporates the world it’s given within the small space that is the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and uses it to their full advantage by incorporating different venues and nationality with the big city that is New York. Instead of introducing Bushmaster as a mafia boss with some beef or vendetta against Luke Cage, an introversion of that expectation is instead directed towards Mariah Dillard, creating a backstory and driving pursuit to the main focus that Luke and Bushmaster will both have to deal with in their own way when it comes to protecting and ruling Harlem’s streets. Tilda’s appearance and portrayal by Gabrielle Dennis are aligned to another side of Mariah Dillard’s past. As the season continues, she’s shown in multiple lights that aligns her to shades of her comic book counterpart. She delivers a stunning performance alongside Mustafa Shakir as prominent characters, delivering a believable and emotional experience that will have you out of breath by the time the season ends on the 13th episode.
In the end, Luke Cage’s second season is a brilliant arc in the series and paints an even more complex picture for Luke in his pursuits to protect Harlem; asking questions that come with being a vigilante, being a martyr for the people and making tough decisions with questionable outcomes.
My Score: 10 out of 10 (A fantastic narrative, structured great, invested emotion within old and new characters, plus an ending that will leave you hungry until Season 3 is announced)