These two episodes of Luke Cage involve a piranha, reputations and ethics. Of course, these things involve Bushmaster, Misty Knight, Luke and Mariah Dillard.





Much of the story centers on Mariah’s (Alfre Woodard) plans to open her Families First community center paid for by guns and insider trading. The place does a lot of name dropping, like part of it named after Shirley Chisholm. Mariah doesn’t care, though. As she tells Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis), doing some harm for a greater good is better than doing no harm and getting nothing. In other words, Mariah blackmailing a guy who never invested in Harlem is justified if it winds up helping single moms.
Tilda tries to understand this, and justify it, but decides she can’t. She won’t be at her mom’s grand opening. More on this later.

As for Luke, he’s trying to prove Cockroach, a guy who was beating his wife, has no legal case. However, shady attorney for hire Ben Donovan (Danny Johnson) is quick to “explain” how Cockroach is not nearly as violent as he seems. Thankfully, Luke has Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson in a more corporate haircut) on his side. While the suit is still up in the air, Foggy gets a gig for Luke thanks to a superfan named Piranha Jones (Chaz Lamar Shepherd). He’ll give Luke 150 thou to appear…in a bullet-riddled hoodie. Luke is not happy about this.

By the way, Piranha has temporary control of Mariah’s cash and property as part of her dealings. If Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) got his hooks on Piranha, it would be bad news for her.
That is his plan, as he heads to Jones’ party and grabs him. Just as well, since Jones wanted to turn Luke into a shooting gallery. This forces the guys to hide in an abandoned theater, then at Luke’s dad’s church. Whether it’ll keep them away from Bushmaster and his crew is unclear, especially when Jones wants to split.

As for Mariah’s grand opening, it goes well….until she discovers three heads on pikes. One of them was Higgins, the guy she blackmailed. This is Bushmaster, making a statement.
She hopes to get help from Ridenhour thanks to her skills of charm and selective lying. It works, up to a point.
She turns to Shades (Theo Rossi) , who does her best to reassure her, but all the while she’s trying to figure a way out.

Actually, episode 6 was the most sluggish episode so far. There were lots of long speeches by Jones, Mariah and Shades (especially how he and Cockroach were very close while they served time in Seagate, and io9 reveals how close), but the best one comes from Bushmaster’s uncle Anansi (Sahr Ngaujah). He tells Bushmaster that maybe forgetting the past may be needed, and just leave something for the next generation to build on.
It’s not enough. Bushmaster wants vengeance on behalf of his family.

Misty Knight (Simone Missick)has her own conflicts, too. After experiencing a flashback to her days with her crooked partner Scarfe (Frank Whaley), she actually considers framing Cockroach for a crime. She stops herself in time, and later learns it’s a moot point. His body is found in his place, without a head. It’s later found at Mariah’s grand opening. She even confesses to Ridenhour (Peter Jay Fernandez) about what she almost did. She’s just frustrated by the law, and all but quits the NYPD. It looks like she’ll wind up as Luke’s new sidekick, especially with her new robotic arm that packs quite a punch.

Episode six ends with round two between Luke and Bushmaster. The battle is much more even, but Bushie has a powder that paralyzes Luke. He gets kicked into the river, and it looks like it’s a watery grave for the bulletproof man.

Nearly halfway through the series, it’s already apparent the producers are trying to stretch seven hours of story into 13 hours. That’s why there are a lot of long speeches by certain characters to explain themselves. Also, the story could be cut back to speed things along. The lawsuit by Cockroach (Dorian Missick) could have been cut, along with Luke showing off his powers. However, it also has a pretty good soundtrack of hip-hop and R&B. Although it requires seeing the band play, it’s the kind of padding that’s not too bad.

From here, though, the major players will be taking some interesting paths as we get to the second half of this series.


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