Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Luke Cage Review (Spoilers)

Luke Cage is flawed. It's probably the weakest of the 4 seasons of the Netflix side of Marvel. That being said I still love it.

Seen It

The biggest problem I have with Luke Cage is that a lot of it is modeled after or at least referencing other cop/gangster/urban movies and television shows of the last 20 years and unlike the get down it isn't really using that as sort of a "language" It's just there for the hell of it.

I love Sonja Sohn but damn it every time she was on screen I had to ask myself. If I want a show about police dysfunction and how broken the system is why don't I just watch The Wire.

And there all these moments like this.  Luke Cage himself is basically spending the first act repeating Jessica Jones', "I don't get involved until I do" thing the second act doing, Daredevils, "If I'm going to do it I have to do it in way I can live with thing" and the show doesn't really become it's own thing until probably the last 3 episodes or so by which point it's basically back to being a lighter version of Jessica Jones.

The Text
What mildly redeems all of that and makes it work is the show's subtext. Who gets to profit from pain. As the hero for hire, that has always been in Luke Cage's DNA. At least in his comic book incarnation, he is the guy who doesn't mind profiting from other's misfortune.

Now while the television show dumps that for his character the subtext of everybody else's motivations and psychology is the examination of that idea. Who gets to profit from pain and why. The show makes some moral judgment's in the end but for most of that's not what it's about. It's about understanding the mental clockwork that allows people to decide that that's okay.

And that's the approach the show takes towards race. The unfairness of racism, sexism and classism underpin all of the villain's actions, and the show doesn't dodge it, yet still decidedly falls on, that's no excuse.

Moments after Luke says, "It doesn't matter where the money came from it only matters what you do with it now" his apartment gets blown up.

Mariah Stokes wants to use ill-gotten gains for the sake of a community building and the show bills her as it's 3rd of 4th string bad.

Diamondback's beef with Luke is framed as emotionally legitimate yet the show never lets him off the hook for all the stuff he's done.

The overall theme of the show is that just because someone has profited from your pain doesn't mean it is alright for you to do the same. 

There is  this brilliant moment where the show sits Misty Night in a room so she can confront that even she golden saint of the show has difficulty with that concept when she tried to lean on Night Nurse just to make herself feel better.

It ultimately serves as a microcosm for the show's larger theme. It's never okay to hurt people for personal gain even if it's just emotional gain.

Furthermore that's the lesson the show feels that not only it but Black history in general imparts. Very often Luke will go up to someone he feels is desecrating sacred ground and basically, with historical context repeat the lesson. Here in this place, it is a sin for you to profit off of the misery of the vulnerable.

Left Turn
3/4 of the way into it the show decides to kill off what at the time seemed to be its main villain, and I have to admit I had an odd feeling about that. There was a certain amount of build up but in all honesty,as I said if the story played out the way it seemed you would basically be getting a repeat of the Kingpin you just aren't going to beat him on the screen.

That being said after it happens there is this great big hole that's filled with ciphers. You knew that guy. You knew basically what he wanted and how he thought. The folks they got to replace him just aren't as compelling.

Has anybody seen Death Note? You need to watch Death Note.

The End
Also Jessica Jones had a bit of a messy ending but it was an ending. Luke Cage not so much. And that is kind of frustrating. I mean we know he's going to be in The Defenders so that ending will happen but all the same most of the problems he had going into the last few episodes he still has. Nothing got solved.

Which I suppose may be the point.

Jessica Jones had problems but she had different problems at the end of her show.

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