Warning: This is a recap, and as such, contains spoilers for the Luke Cage episode, “DWYCK.” Get out of dodge if you haven’t watched the episode yet!
Nine episodes in and Luke Cage trips over a barrier all of Marvel’s Netflix series have faced: the slow burn. These series are constructed more like 13 hour movies rather than episodic television; they’re made to be binged. Most of the time, this is for the best since it allows deeper character exploration and more time for story set up—it’s certainly been beneficial in the arena of developing more complex villains. But, it can also lead to a lull, which is where “DWYCK” mostly landed for me.
It’s a relevant episode that tackled tricky, navel-gazing spots for Misty and dives into social issues with the force of a semi, but even with those elements, the pace was off. Maybe it was because the issues with Luke were so urgent that by the time you cut back to Misty’s interrogation that wasn’t technically an interrogation and Mariah’s entanglements, you’ve fallen out of the fast-paced stream. But hey, let’s review what happened by character.
After she lost patience with Claire, Misty was reprimanded and rightly so. Someone was brought in to more or less assess her and give her the chance to open up. Misty worked through issues from her past and events as recent as Diamondback knocking her out. She found anger within herself for not fighting back against Diamondback and for losing control. She hit her “come to Jesus” moment in the end and got there with minimal pushing from the peer assistance volunteer. It’s been intriguing to watch this self-possessed and straightforward character falter. And I have to say, her not sympathizing with Luke has subverted my expectations. I hope she starts looking forward with a clearer vision.
Speaking of ladies and their visions, Mariah carefully crafted a plan only to watch it shatter. Her path has been my favorite of the show: I don’t necessarily like the character or what she’s doing, but her decisions have driven the narrative in unexpected ways. Like Shades said, we hate to love her. She’s stepped up into the role of Mama Mabel, Jr., and the themes of legacy and family run like undercurrents under her arc.
She continued to eschew Cornell’s business and with the help of Shades—who I’d really like to see more from before the series is over—she formulated a plan. Her idea seemed too good to be true, but we didn’t get to learn about her angle because of Diamondback. He disturbed Mariah’s meeting by taking out most of the bosses of Harlem. He brings a dynamic wholly different from Cornell’s to the table, and he and Mariah don’t seem to have the long and messy family history to color their interactions. Diamondback annoys me with his Bible-quoting speech, but he’s more formidable than Cottonmouth and that’s enough for now. He’s staked his claim in Harlem’s Paradise, and I’m curious about how the chips will fall (I hope Shades betrays him).
Onto our hero. Luke no longer as invulnerable thanks to the wounds inflicted by Diamondback. He’s managing to move forward—thank goodness he found a laundromat dryer with clothes in his size!—but it’s jarring to him and us to watch him struggle. The image of the cops stopping him and giving him a hard time merely for walking down the street in an erratic manner was all too relevant with current events and evoked a powerful image.
When he found his way back to Claire, she realized the only way to assist Luke was to get him back to the man who “created” him. They booked it to Georgia to visit Doctor Burstein. He was cautious at first, but once he saw proof of his successful experiment, he was willing to help. I was amused by how he was impressed by Claire’s knowledge and skills but didn’t quite believe her statements about Luke until he broke a scalpel trying to cut into Luke’s skin. C’mon, bro.
Burstein wasn’t sure what to do to assist Luke, but with Claire’s clever idea for drawing blood and the information on Reva’s USB drive, the doctor was able to piece things together. He conveniently had an area of his barn set up as a laboratory and had the equipment and materials to re-create the experiment that caused Luke’s transformation—except for one tiny bit of information. It was a risk to proceed, but with Luke dying in front of them, Claire and the doctor decided it was worth moving forward. The process of frying Luke like a chicken in a vat of acid shockingly didn’t go well, and I’m unsure of what will happen next. I mean, Luke will survive, but I can’t guess how it will happen.
Do you like Diamondback? How do you rank him in comparison to Cornell? Let me know in the comments.