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TV Review: Marvel’s Luke Cage S2E1 Soul Brother

In the second season opener of Marvel’s Luke Cage, the hero is now a legend, so much so that drugs are being sold with his name stamped on them to make you “bullet proof.” The character has become myth in some ways and it’s set right away that he’s a known factor, the bullet proof nature, the strength. The dealers see it as a futile effort but an effort needs to be made to stand up against him. The season makes it clear and plays off the tradition of black heroes playing the role of sex symbol and boogeyman. So much rests upon one man and he’s exactly that, a man.

And being just a man is the focus of the episode. Luke is having money trouble and Pop’s Barber Shop may have to move due to increased insurance rates and increased rent. A cottage industry has sprung up around Luke and it’s profiting off of him and his name but he’s not seeing any of it. He may be woke but he’s broke.

The episode focuses on Misty Knight who’s dealing with the loss of her arm. The bond between her and Clare is strong as Misty deals with her new life and getting used to it all. There’s also the introduction of Luke’s relationship with his father, an interesting twist that adds a dynamic about roles of individuals in a community.

Beyond the relationships and setting the status quo of Luke, Clare, and Misty, the episode is focused on where Harlem is now that Luke is on the table. Drugs and guns are running free no matter his best efforts and various factions are jockeying for power and to establish security and dominance. A new player comes to the table, one that has interesting… abilities and with some twists and turns the season feels like it’s set as far as plot and “the big bad” that Luke will face.

As usual, the acting is charming and entertaining. Each actor feels like they’re having fun and embodying their characters and letting loose. There’s some over the top aspects of it and some very trope like characters but it all blends together into a certain style that works well for the series.

There’s nothing groundbreaking and compared to the previous season it’s actually a bit monotonous and bland. The first episode gives the indication this isn’t the next step for the series but it’s a continuation of what we’ve seen. There’s a focus on the jockeying and the politics of the first season. Like the meta narrative of Marvel’s cinematic universe, this season feels like that in a way. While it can stand on its own, but there’s something missing if you haven’t seen what’s come before. The packaging makes it interesting from the characters to the plot to the music, it all comes together to create something that’s engaging enough to continue watching.

Overall Rating: 7.0