Warning: This is a recap, and as such, contains spoilers for the Luke Cage episode, “Take It Personal.” Get out of dodge if you haven’t watched the episode yet.
Two notes I need to get out of the way immediately: First of all, Diamondback is crazy and while he still annoys me, his role is pushing several plot beats in wacky/solid/unexpected directions. Secondly, boy, I was wrong about Luke and Claire’s relationship not being flirty. I let the fact that I didn’t want her to like Luke cloud my vision. Their affection for each other was made clear in “Take It Personal”: Claire gave her all to help Luke, and it went beyond her general need to assist others.
In many ways, Claire dominated this episode. As I pointed out in another recap, she has a more prominent role in Luke Cage than any other Marvel Netflix series (so far)—Luke would not have survived the Judas bullet injuries without her. Period. Her MacGyver-like skills seem made for treating characters with super powers. I loved watching the look on Dr. Burstein’s face when Claire electrocuted Luke in a handmade fashion in lieu of using defibrillators. She jumped right into the situation and became the doctor, with Burstein being the nurse handing her tools. It was perfect.
Their combined efforts successfully healed Luke and restored him to his former completely invulnerable status. But like Luke and Claire, I was wary of Burstein. He’s been coming across as more of a mad scientist than a doctor, and he’s eager to use the info from Reva’s flash drive to make more Luke Cages. He professed he wanted to proceed for practical and noble applications—helping soldiers heal faster, curing diseases, etc. But look at this guy: you know the second someone powerful waves money under his nose, he’s jumping for it.
Luke and Claire had the same thought because they decided to take the USB drive and get out of dodge… but not before poking around its contents. No wonder Reva kept Luke from watching the videos. She didn’t just know about the experiments happening at Seagate, she helped with them under the guise of conducting therapy sessions for the prisoners. She knew about Rackham’s plans for Carl/Luke and discussed him as if he were the subject of a scientific study. I would say I can’t imagine how it affected Luke, but it was all over his face as he smashed the computer and most of Burstein’s equipment. To this man that looks out for others and shows his loyalty with a simple but so damn effective, “I got you,” betrayal is one of the worst crimes. Could Luke’s day get worse?
Yes, it can, actually. Shrapnel-free and ready to face Diamondback, Luke decided to visit Savannah where he grew up. He went to the church where his father used to preach and walked backwards through time. As he walked through the shell of the church—it’s a mess now—his memories poured in. He recalled snippets of conversations he heard as a child and suddenly realized Willis Stryker was indeed his half-brother. Willis’ mother was his dad’s secretary. Huh.
I have a couple of issues with this. First of all, how did the truth hit Luke so suddenly? I guess maybe it was a matter of him mentally blocking the evidence, but the pieces clicked into place too fast. The audience could keep up, but it pushed belief—and yes, it pushed belief even though this is a series about an invincible man. Also, bitterness over being pushed aside for Luke is Diamondback’s motivation for being so terrible? Granted, Diamondback is unstable, but it seems like an extreme reaction. Like, the highest of extremes.
While Luke and Claire were away, Diamondback continued to try to solve the Luke Cage problem while moving forward with Mariah’s plan to profit by selling cops guns and weapons to stop people like Luke. He tasked Mariah with creating fear, and when she didn’t step up, Diamondback did. He pretended to be Luke using a device from Hammer Tech and killed a cop. That was a tragedy, obviously, but I couldn’t help but laugh at Diamondback walking away screaming, “I’m Luke Cage.” More cops should have seen through the charade, but with a dead officer and the heightened state, they were blinded. Misty raised an eyebrow, but everyone else stayed focused on looking for Luke.
Mariah being Mariah, she jumped in headfirst. She was angry at Diamondback for stirring up the police into coming down harder on Harlem (her Harlem, mind you), but she spun it. She used the police’s brutality against an innocent kid–mad respect to Lonnie for standing up and pushing back in his interrogation–to spur the community into action. She launched off that board to bring the community on the “get cops weapons to stop Luke and people like him” train. By the way, did you catch the call out to Jessica Jones? She’s too ambitious for her own good. Mama Mabel would be proud.
The rally didn’t only attract hopeful and angry citizens of Harlem. Misty showed up, and Claire and Luke returned in time to drop in. Yeah, they made the drive to and from Georgia without stopping to look at the sights. When Luke walked in, the world exploded in bullets.
What do you think about Claire’s avante-garde techniques? Did you buy that Luke would come to the realization about Willis so quickly? Sound off in the comments.