Luke Cage 1.09 Review: “DWYCK”
As Luke Cage begins to start moving towards it’s endgame, the show seems to be suffering from the traditional Marvel Netflix treatment that has the show feeling slow in the final transition. While Mile Coulter has been perfect as Luke and the show has done a nice job establishing it’s characters, things just feel a little off as season one nears the finale. Although things haven’t been perfect, Luke Cage has done a nice job of introducing viewers to the titular character and the street level villains he defends Harlem from. Where episode 8, “Blowin’ Up the Spot,” felt like an unusual transition, episode 9 feels like the show is slightly stalling to fill out the episode count, which is disappointing with the finale right around the corner.
The main struggle in “DWYCK” is that the events in the show escalated extremely fast, which took away from the emotional weight of it all. The conflict between him and Diamondback has been kept hidden, which is fine because it should be a big reveal in one of the final episodes, but the show hasn’t really done anything else to build up this revenge tale from a story perspective. Diamondback is the only man who has been able to challenge Luke, yet, as the character spends time being dunked into acid in this episode, it doesn’t truly feel as though he’s been broken. The other Marvel Netflix shows, Jessica Jones and Daredevil have put the heroes in tougher spots than Luke has been, and while Luke Cage has the hardest hero to display, the show seems suddenly all over the place.
A big reason is that a lot of the characters feel like their plot lines are forced, or at least that their time is wasted on stepping stone moments. Luke’s been spending his time dealing with his wounds and hoping he can get them healed in order to recover for a final face-off with Diamondback. Misty spent the whole episode in an interrogation room talking to a doctor and it, quite literally, traps her character in a box. Misty is a great character who has been well-represented in Luke Cage, which is important because she plays into his stories a lot and has a big presence in the Defenders realm. Misty’s start in the show was very strong, displaying how she is both a genius and a fighter; seeing her navigate the streets and slowly do solid detective work to build her case against Cottonmouth and Luke was a lot of fun. However, ever since Scarfe was exposed, Misty’s time has been spent closely watched at the precinct as a caged animal. The episodes just begin to slow down because the writing tends to force everyone onto their final phase for the season; Luke is going to recover, Misty will probably begin to listen to her gut and Mariah will finish off the season back in a position of power with a new sense of purpose and focus.
Aside from those two major stories, the show sort of doesn’t have much else going on. There is the good and evil perspectives on the show have began to blend together and all of Luke Cage’s background and supporting filler has fallen to the wayside. When looking at Daredevil and Jessica Jones, both of those shows have supporting characters who operate more freely and interestingly on their own, whereas Luke Cage feels like it has boxed everyone in with little room to function naturally. “DWYCK,” while not perfect, at least establishes Diamondback as an intimidating villain compared to his first appearance in the previous episode. Diamondback’s entrance felt unnatural, but this episode finally displays him flashing his power, intimidating whoever he needs to and strategically thinking about how he can utilize Mariah based off of Shades suggestion. Luke Cage has a lot of great aspects, but the organization and delivery of it all seems very disjointed and it becomes noticeable in these final episodes.
Luke Cage is definitely setting up the groundwork for what viewers can expect in the future. The show has always been great about expressing it’s tone and continues to establish a show about a man putting his town on his back. There has been no misstep in what the writers want the show to be about, Luke Cage has just hit some bumps along the way. The characters are all solid, but it would be nice to have some better organization in how they are introduced and placed throughout the series.