Warning: This is a recap, and as such, contains spoilers for the 8th Luke Cage episode, “Blowin’ Up the Spot.” Get out of dodge if you haven’t watched the episode yet.
With the sudden turn of events in the seventh episode for Cottonmouth and for Luke, episode eight brought a bit of fresh air. “Blowin’ Up the Spot” saw a new but not unknown rival slide into the game, one Willis Stryker, a.k.a. Diamondback. He got his hands on some of the special bullets Shades mentioned to Cottonmouth a couple of episodes ago and decided to take care of Luke Cage on his own. He caused the hero to feel pain and to bleed, and after seeing Luke deflect dozens of bullets, it was a shock–and a necessary change of pace.
If you didn’t suspect Diamondback was the shooter, the distinct music playing as he knocked over the ambulance should have clued you in. It had a rattlesnake shaking its tail tone; the notes were chilling. Unfortunately, Diamondback himself was not as scary. He had his moments as he established he was after Carl Lucas, not Luke Cage, but he lost me when he dove into the overly religious villain territory.
We’ll get there, but first, Luke Cage and Claire. She was able to get Luke to a hospital set up because it’s what Claire does. Rosario Dawson brings such a capable air to Claire that the character could walk on water and I wouldn’t bat an eye. She doesn’t hem or haw; she acts. Her bedside manner with Luke was easy, and I like how the vibe never feels flirty between them–it stays in friendly territory. Claire doesn’t need to be the love interest that shows up in every Marvel series, but she should have a certain level of intimacy with the heroes she helps.
Alas, Luke couldn’t be helped. Claire realized the physiology responsible for making Luke’s skin impenetrable was also trapping the shrapnel from the bullet that had exploded inside him. And hey, they found a way to call the Power Man nickname corny. I like how they keep playing against the blaxploitation elements of the comic book source material.
Before Claire had the opportunity to use her out of the box thinking–the same type of thinking helped her save Luke when he appeared in Jessica Jones–Misty showed up to arrest Luke for the murder of Cottonmouth. Then, Diamondback reappeared. Having an idea about what the bullet was doing was one thing; seeing how it hit the wall and then expanded the material into a crumbly mess was another. It had the intended effect of making you worry for Luke while you remembered, “Hey, this season still has five episodes to go and Luke Cage is in The Defenders, so it’s gonna be all right.”
This is where the preachy side of Diamondback started to come out. He caught Misty unawares and could have easily killed her; we’ve seen how much Misty likes to be in control so you can imagine how being trapped rattled (ha!) her confidence. She and Claire were both left behind as an injured and suffering Luke went after Diamondback with the intent of destroying him.
Then things took an Empire Strikes Back turn. It became evident Diamondback was going after Luke for personal business that began long before the recent foofaraw with Cottonmouth. He knew him as Carl Lucas, he wanted to make him suffer, and he was intent on revenge for some wrong. As he shot Luke with the unique bullets again, he told Luke he was actually his brother.
While the Diamondback and Luke battle raged, Mariah faced the consequences of her actions. This is a woman on the rise. She’s a marvel, honestly. Mariah is still distasteful of Cottonmouth’s business and of Shades, but if her carefully manipulated cover-up starts crumbling, she’s ready to kill an apartment full of innocent people to keep her secret safe. And her primary regret about doing so wouldn’t be the lives lost; it would be the stain left on the historic building they lived in. Yeah, she’s one classy lady.
She did seem a bit shaken right after the event, but the very-experienced-at-cleaning-up-messes Shades calmly walked her through next steps. By the time he got through his instructions, Mariah was throwing smart-ass comments in his face. She had no problem standing up to Misty or the press. I’m more intimidated by her than I was by Cottonmouth.
Now, Misty. I should feel pity for her. Should. But even though she saw a bleeding Luke and his alibi and clearly thought something was off with Mariah, she was still convinced Luke killed Cottonmouth. Because Luke is tied to all the recent events, she can’t see around him or believe he’s not involved. For a person who sees so much, Misty has blinded herself. Watching Claire shut down Misty’s Luke suspicions was the most satisfying part of the episode.
Have you given any thoughts to Shades’ plans? Head to the comments and tell me what you think he’s up to.