Luke Cage 1.10 Review: “Take It Personal”
While Luke Cage has been losing steam over the past couple of episodes, the show finallys seems to have bounced back in setting up for it’s final push to the finale. Some of the decisions for specific characters have felt off, but “Take It Personal” has snapped everyone back into place and introduced some of the final puzzle pieces to Luke’s story. Luke Cage is at it’s best when it fills in the character’s background and moral stance because he’s a character who is a neighborhood figure and sets an impression, which is the type of situations that the writers have begun to reincorporate.
Where episodes 8 & 9 fell short, “Take It Personal” picks up the pace once again and begins to fill viewers in with more of Luke’s backstory. Within the episode there is a sense of identity that is explored by our hero and villain. For Diamondback, he uses a glove that increases the strength of his punches and uses it on a police officer, shouting “I’m Luke Cage,” after he commits the crime. There’s a feeling here that Diamondback desperately wishes he could be Luke, similarly to Cottonmouth earlier in the season. The foundation of the show has been set up upon the classic building blocks of a hero and his story about staying humble when having such a large amount of power. Luke Cage has presented two villains that are extremely hungry for power. Diamondback tries to Challenge Luke in multiple ways, and now that the Judas didn’t fully do it’s job, Diamondback is attempting to re-create Luke’s strength. The reveal that Diamondback is Luke’s brother makes things a lot clearer and gives the character a much larger and understandable motivation. Viewers learn Luke was always considered “the miracle child” and seems to have been given more of the spotlight compared to his older step-brother.
On top of this, the episode also surprises everyone with the video diary footage of Reva, admitting that she knew about the fight club the entire time and was another tool to manipulate Luke into fighting. It’s sad that this happened to be the case, but it’s nice to give Luke closure on the past so that after this season he can move forward with his life and love interests. Completing Luke’s story with Reva is very important for the show because it compares nicely to how he responded in Jessica Jones and starts to open up the door for their reconciliation and potential rekindling of their romantic relationship. The Claire and Luke relationship seems forced because the two characters were together for a brief period in the comics. The addition of Claire to Luke Cage has been fine, but the connection between the two feels forced with how Claire pops up mid-season, remembers him from a very quick interaction, and crosses paths with him again soon after. Colter and Dawson have solid chemistry, but from a writing standpoint their relationship feels a little too rushed.
Although it’s a little frustrating that every cop aside from Misty doesn’t stop to question why Luke would announce himself while committing a crime, the show craftily hops back into it’s look at social issues. Diamondback and Mariah discuss striking while the iron is hot and the viral footage of Luke attacking cops is fresh in everyone’s mind. This is why no cop stops to think about the full situation, because they are looking out for their brothers on the force. Luke Cage seems to properly execute how these types of situations play out and how quickly a misunderstanding or miscommunication can lead to radical outcomes. The police begin to take an aggressive route and start pulling anyone who knows anything about Luke off of the street and into a heated interrogation. “Take It Personal” gives viewers a great callback by having Lonnie Wilson, the boy Luke saves during the open fire on Pop’s shop, get questioned by the cops because he openly defends Luke. Lonnie is actually really smart and a nice inclusion into this episode because he shows that not everyone is a stereotype and understands what his rights are. Having the officer go so overboard that he abuses a child is a strong choice for Luke Cage to make, only because it’s a very aggressive thing for anyone to do. The scene has a big impact because it shows how easily it is to shift a public view on social issues like this. Luke Cage is all about tone, and the social commentary helps to really establish that tone; not only do the writers accurately display tense social situations, they continue to make sure both sides are fairly represented, making it easy to understand both points of view.
Luke Cage finally feels back to it’s standard form in “Take It Personal” as the show’s traditional structure sets back in and the plot begins to move forward once again. Finally filling the viewers in on major missing story aspects has helped to round the story out a lot better. Providing Luke with closure on Reva and Diamondback’s true motivations ramps things up as the finale inches closer. The writers of Luke Cage have done a nice job of building the tension in this final act because everyone is dealing with strong emotions and intense situations. Mariah and Diamondback are struggling to battle for full power, Luke is dealing with the new knowledge about Reva and Diamondback and the police and public are fighting one another as well. “Take It Personal,” really re-energizes Luke Cage and starts what seems to be an exciting beginning of the end.