Last episode suffered from a lack of forward momentum. This episode solves that problem, but might not be that much of a better episode.
Luke Cage s01e08 Blowin’ Up the Spot
Writer: Aïda Mashaka Croal
Director: Magnus Martens
Things are moving. Characters are conspiring. Plans are progressing. Kind of. But the writing suffers. Things that should be smart, aren’t. Events that feel like they should be quickly snowballing are strolling along as if artificially stretching themselves out to fill up 13 episodes. And then there is the question: are any of these villains satisfying?
Spoilers Lurk Below
What tends to trip up superhero properties is the lack of a charismatic villain with a good plot. Very few flicks pass this test. I don’t know why. Right now Luke Cage has three main villains: Mariah, Shades, and Stryker. None of them are getting the job done.
Shades is an empty suit. He acts like a threat and people treat him like a threat but he hasn’t done anything and Theo Rossi isn’t broadcasting anything to make me awed. He’s just a guy.
As for Stryker, well, sure. He has a magic gun, or I guess I should say magic bullets. And he is Cage’s brother. Which I suppose is meant to be shocking, but just comes off as a lame attempt to create tension over a newly introduced character. Really my main problem with Stryker is that he shows up, does just enough to cause an inconvenience and then runs away. He says he wants to make Luke suffer, but all he has done is make him late. Quit having him say he is going to do something bad and have him do something bad. This is the second episode in a row to have Cage shot and then separated from the villain. The hook for the binge watchers is too obvious and the bait is less exciting.
And then there is Mariah. Is she a smart and savvy politician? Not really. Is she the crazed, explosive gangster? Not really. Is she a lesser combination of those two types resulting in a jumbled non-threat? Possibly. Does a talent like Afre Woodard deserve a better script? Definitely.
I am a comics fanboy, but I still try to be objective about what I think works and doesn’t work in the various mediums where superheroes exist. Sometimes I take things with a grain of salt. I don’t expect a comic from the 1970s to read the same way a modern comic reads. And to be honest, modern does not necessarily better. But, as I’ve said before, it annoys me when when media takes cheap shots at the source material. Like this episodes dig at “Power Man.” Here we are in an age where superheroes are finally accepted mainstream and yet there is still an attitude the comics are dumb. It’s not cute. It is just pompous.