Luke Cage Season 2
Starring: Mike Colter, Theo Rossi, Rosario Dawson, Alfre Woodard
Writer and Creator: Cheo Hodari Coker
Directors: Lucy Liu, Steph Green, Marc Jobst, Salli Richardson-Whitfield
Luke Cage‘s sophomore season hits it out of the park by fixing several issues that have plagued Marvel’s Netflix brand and leans into its comic roots. Pacing is the main flaw throughout all the Marvel shows on Netflix. It’s less of an issue in The Punisher but it’s still there. The typical season structure hits the gas for first three or four episodes. The fourth or fifth episode is where they focus on a key antagonist. Then the season crawls to twelfth and thirteenth episodes. This time around, it’s spread throughout the entire season. You don’t feel like it’s moving too fast or too slow. It helps that [Luke Cage S2] is more character driven than any of the other seasons. The first episode feels a lot longer than the listed 55 minutes but in a good way. Coker and his team of writers manage to get the most out of each episode without overwhelming the audience.
Another area that has vastly improved is the choreography. The fights this season are just a notch below Daredevil but that’s due to Luke’s fighting style and not a criticism of the choreographers. This season features almost as much team up action as The Defenders. The fights are used to showcase the cinematography as well as Coker’s excellent taste in music. Continuing the tradition set by the first season, each song used in an episode means something. Also, every episode of this season is named after a Pete Rock & CL Smooth song.
Usually, when a superhero show or film handles social commentary, it will typically deal with it once and move on. This season of Luke Cage bucks that trend with several recurring themes that you wouldn’t expect from the genre, especially as it pertains to being Black in America. The social commentary is handled as a source of tension and motivation, not things to check off on a list. The commentary is also used to reveal different aspects of the characters that most will find surprising.
Even though we’re getting Bushmaster this season, all of the chaos revolves around Mariah Dillard, played by Alfre Woodard. Woodard delivers a stellar performance as she completes Dillard’s transformation into Black Mariah. Theo Rossi’s performance as Shades this season is also award-worthy. The normally enigmatic character is slowly dissected throughout the season which leads to some interesting decisions. The audience will likely feel conflicted about him by the end of the season.
VERDICT: Watch it. The second season of Luke Cage addresses several criticisms of the Netflix Marvel properties. The improved pacing and story structure combined with the stellar acting and writing will certainly leave you wanting more.
Luke Cage Season 2 will stream on June 22nd only on Netflix.