Warning: This is a recap, and as such, contains spoilers for the Luke Cage season one finale, “You Know My Steez.” Get out of dodge if you haven’t watched the episode yet.
The gloves are off, and if you didn’t think you’d see any super powered toe-to-toe combat on Luke Cage, then the season one finale probably tickled you. Diamondback doesn’t have Luke’s incredible strength, but he does have the smarts and finances to use Hammer technology to fake it in “You Know My Steez.” He brought the fight to Luke’s doorstep and offended the hero and basically all of Harlem by turning the sacred space of Pop’s Barber Shop into a war zone—he decimated Switzerland. That’s no way to get the people to cheer you.
Diamondback has not been set up as an intellectual sort of villain. He’s not Fisk. He’s not Kilgrave. He’s going to go after Luke with lethal force; he’s not going to send someone else to do it. So, while on one hand a brawl in the streets seemed unlikely and silly, it was also the only possible outcome. Diamondback and his gear reminded me of Batman; he outfitted himself to be the ideal opponent for Luke. Thanks to flashbacks, we know he’s particularly ideal since he showed Luke how to box when they were both kids.
Flashbacks can be iffy. If they’re used with too heavy of a hand, they can be distracting. These scenes used the technique effectively—more so than other flashbacks in the series. Luke and Diamondback’s brawl was cut with boxing matches from their youth. In his arrogance, Diamondback completely forgot he gave Luke the key to defeating him: Luke only had to wait until Diamondback got tired.
I wasn’t initially thrilled with the length of the fight, but given the super powers involved and that the battle is payoff for the back half of the season, I ended up being fine with it. The crowd cheering Luke’s name though? Ehhh. As Claire would say, it was corny.
After Luke defeated Diamondback, it appeared like things were turning around for Luke as well as Misty. She was able to capture Diamondback, and she apprehended Mariah (who of course knew it was coming and invited the press to the scene so they could witness her show). However, she was kicked down in no time. While the inspector and Misty put the screws to Mariah to try to get her to confess to killing Cornell, they lost their only witness because Shades killed Candace and Misty lost control… again.
It was disheartening to see her kicked down after she just heard a motivating, optimistic speech from Luke. He agreed to go to the precinct in order to give a statement. While Luke’s words ventured into meaningless platitude territory, I couldn’t help but be moved thanks to everything we’ve seen Luke struggle with over the course of the last 13 episodes. Barely any time has passed since we met the reluctant hero at Pop’s, and now he’s talking about realizing how he had to step up and passionately defend Harlem. He’s walked the walk, as it were, so those sorts of affirming comments actually carried weight. They certainly got to Misty.
But by the time she found out about Candace and Mariah walked out? Misty was over it. She unloaded about the ineffective system to the inspector; her frustration was palpable. She thinks the system’s broken. You could tell the inspector’s observation about how Candace would have been okay if Misty would have trusted the system stung her. Given how we saw Misty at the end of the season—in her very comic book-inspired ensemble at Harlem’s Paradise—I wouldn’t be surprised to see her embrace the vigilante lifestyle.
Quick aside: how the hell was Harlem’s Paradise put back together so quickly, by the way? I understand money wasn’t an issue but it’s been like, what, a day or two? They must have had people working around the clock doing repairs and restocking the bar. Mariah and Shades seemed quite content in their new business with Mariah going full Mama Mabel and recognizing her true self. I was rather disappointed to see them escape justice even if I was backing Shades. Watching Diamondback go down wasn’t terribly satisfying to me, and Dr. Burstein showed up to treat him anyway.
While we’re talking about anticlimactic endings, Luke was taken back to Seagate. The dude doesn’t even get a minute to savor his victory? He wants to clear his name but come on. I wanted Luke to get more than takeout and a smooch from Claire. They had a coffee date, for goodness’ sake. I have no doubt he’ll fix the problem, but after all he suffered and did, I wanted him to get a teensy bit of peace.
Resolution may not have been the series’ strongest point, but it nailed set up. Luke Cage dropped a ton of connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly the other Netflix series. Just in this episode there was a hint about the barber shop becoming the Heroes for Hire storefront, a mention of Colleen Wing which would bring Claire into Iron Fist, and Claire mentioning she knew a good attorney (it could be Foggy or Matt) and that would lead Luke nicely into The Defenders. It’s all connected.
Okay. Your thoughts on season one of Luke Cage, I wanna hear them. Were you satisfied with the ending? Spill the beans in the comments or come chat with me on Twitter.