Nearing the midpoint of the season, things begin to heat up in the midst of a gang war. Can Luke protect Piranha long enough to end the violence? #comicwatch #iamawatcher @lukecage @marvel @netflix @realmikecolter
Luke Cage – “The Basement”, Season 2, Episode 06
Airdate: June 22nd, 2018
Director: Millicent Shelton
Writer: A’ida Mashaka
Based on Marvel Comics Characters by: Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, and John Romita Sr.
What You’ll Find Out:
With Luke and Piranha on the run from the Stylers, its an elaborate game of keep-away while Harlem erupts in violence. The unlikely pairing finally finds an abandoned theater to hunker down in for a time, as Piranha attempts to establish some form of bond with Luke, talking about everything from achieving the “American Dream” to disappointing fathers, becoming yet another person in the line of those who have told Luke to talk to his father. After a failed Styler raid to snatch Piranha, Luke does just that, and takes him to Reverend Lucas’ church for safe keeping.
Misty’s attempt to plant evidence leads her down a crisis of conscious path that inevitably ends with her turning in her badge and gun, opening the door for her to join Luke as a fellow “hero for hire.”
Shades and Commache set out to find Luke and Piranha, but with the streets hot with Styler lookouts, the pair end up holed up in the barbershop, discussing Shades’ dream of a better life and the past history between the two. The heart to heart in the heat of battle implied a homosexual relationship between the pair when they were in Seagate, and while for Commanche, nothing has changed, clearly for Shades, it has. Mariah, meanwhile, struggles with trust issues towards everybody around her, indicating the start of a potential downward spiral that appears primed to cost the lives of at least a few characters. Which characters she takes down with her remains to be seen.
In Brooklyn, Anansi challenges his nephew’s authority publicly, although under a thin veil of vagary. When Bushmaster later confronts him on it, Anansi once against presses for peace, citing the work it has taken Jamaican immigrants to get to where they are in the United States, while the war Bushmaster wants seems to be directly unraveling all of it.
Each of these varied events, revolving mostly around philosophy and praxis, leads to another confrontation between Luke and Bushmaster. While Luke is clearly outmatched in terms of fighting prowess, his sheer force of will gives him the upper hand in the hand-to-hand combat until Bushmaster doses him with a paralytic agent and kicks him over the side of the bridge.
What Just Happened?
Coming in at the tail end of Pride Month in the United States, the Marvel Cinematic Universe unveils the queer relationship between Shades and Commanche. As progressive as the MCU has been to this point, the number of queer characters has been shockingly sparse and mostly exclusive to the Netflix series (also Jeri Hogarth). While the tale of Che and Shades is one of conditional love, it was refreshing to see Che, with his feelings laid bare, and to have Shades respond that he would die for Che, regardless of sexual relationship. The camaraderie, at least for the time being, remains intact.
Also entangled in this heart to heart is a notion of the American Dream and how it differs from the two. Shades ambition to achieve security out of “the life” has the distinct feeling that a target is being placed on his head, exacerbated by his later conversation with Mariah in which she clearly has begun to question his loyalty. The subtext reads as an examination into the institutionalized racism, not only in law enforcement but in an economy, that has been raised in the United States prominently over the past few years. As Anansi picks up the conversation with Bushmaster, we see deeper into this subtext with the fear that a display of “savagery” by a member of an immigrant population can bring down the rage and fervor of a nation, negating all the work said community has done to survive and thrive.
Final Thought: There is an interesting polemic that has been developing between the man-made and the natural, represented in both the Luke/Bushmaster and also the Mariah/Tilda narratives.
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