Luke slowly loses control while those closest to him fight for the soul of Harlem. What will happen when Luke finally meets Bushmaster?
Luke Cage – “Wig Out”, Season 2, Episode 03
Airdate: June 22nd, 2018
Director: Marc Jobst
Writer: Matt Owens
Based on Marvel Comics Characters by: Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, and John Romita Sr.
What You’ll Find Out:
From Cockroach’s brutal beating to recklessly trampling through Yardie territory in Brooklyn, Luke’s journey into darkness is accelerated in this episode, culminating in yet another argument with Claire. During said argument, rooted in race and anger, Luke punches through the wall, igniting traumatic childhood memories in Claire that leads her to demand space and time. Her attempts to reconcile Luke and his father, James, seem to have been for naught.
Misty receives a much-needed therapy session with the lovely Colleen Wing making a guest appearance. Moving from the sparring ring to the bar, the combination of alcohol and a good, old-fashioned bar brawl seems to have been just the ticket to pull Misty from her slump and get her back on track. Whether that track will include continuing her career with the police remains to be seen.
Mariah manages to strike a deal, through Shades, with Bushmaster and the Yardies, ensuring that Bushmaster’s crew will be fully armed for the war to come, and giving her enough money to buy out the plastics company and go legit. Unbeknownst to Mariah, however, she has a spy in her home—Stephanie, the young woman known as Billie, turns out to be the cousin of one of the Yardie lieutenants, keeping Bushmaster appraised of Mariah’s various dealings.
After seeing Luke in action in Brooklyn, Bushmaster is seen taking his natural drugs and preparing for a first real confrontation with Luke. After Luke is kicked out of Claire’s apartment, he is assaulted in the street and knocked down with a single punch from Bushmaster, who then asserts his claim that Harlem is his birthright.
What Just Happened?
Discussions of race and rage take center stage in this episode, but also nuance among race relations is highlighted. Harlem black community is shown to bear distinct difference Brooklyn black communities, as Luke takes his fame across the river to be rejected, mocked, and shunned, reminding him that he is the Hero of Harlem, and Harlem is just a small piece of a much larger tapestry. Even as Luke and Claire argue, the debate is framed not only in a sense of race but also sex and gender, as Luke attempts to claim anger as a black male right, to which Claire counters with her own experiences with anger and racism. His apparent misogyny appears to accompany his loss of control, setting him up for a mighty fall before he can rise back up to be the hero that is needed.
This episode reinforced an earlier assumption that the soundtrack is locally based, in that the Brooklyn scenes are marked by reggae, while Harlem is dominantly marked by jazz and blues. This scene marking accompanies the narrative use of music in the series excellently thus far, helping to provide a blueprint for the character that is the city.
As a final note, Bushmaster’s power ritual calls to mind the Wakandan ritual that grants T’Challa the powers of the Black Panther in his film, in that it is another all-natural power source.
Final Thought: Next episode cannot help but finally bring us a fight between Luke and Bushmaster, a fight that Luke is clearly destined to lose. At this point in the season, I’d like to mark that, while each episode has been very good, the narrative styles and focuses have seemed to shift from episode to episode. It could possibly be the result of different screenwriters for each episode but could also be a case in which the general framework of the story has become more important than the details of how it is told. I will remain optimistic for the time being, as I’m quite enjoying the story thus far, but it bears mentioning. Rating is inflated to reflect my joy at the appearance of Colleen!
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