Luke Cage Season 1 Episode 8 Review: “Blowin’ Up The Spot”

Luke Cage Season 1 Episode 8 Review: "Blowin' Up The Spot"

Through the first two acts, Luke Cage has been another solid installment to the Marvel Netflix family. Although the show has operated at a slower pace than Daredevil and possibly even more so than Jessica Jones, it seems to fit the style and tone of the show and it’s setting. Yes, there have been conflicting views between people like Luke, Cottonmouth and Mariah, but each character cares about Harlem and is trying to leave their impact on it. This is what sets Luke a part from the rest though, because he’s the only one with pure intentions that will actually help. Luke Cage is yet another diverse show for the MCU to incorporate, and that’s what makes it so much fun, because once again Marvel has released a show that feels drastically different from the companion shows while still having the same theme of heroes growing into their famous roles. The show obviously is not without it’s faults, but so far Luke Cage has been providing another unique look at a hero operating in a part of New York, and with the shocking death of Cottonmouth at the end of last episode, it looks like things might elevate even more.

The death of Cottonmouth is actually a shame because Mahershala Ali was doing a fantastic job with the character and he was such a fun adversary for Luke to face off against. However, this was sort of something that has been coming since the beginning because Cottonmouth was never the controlling party; Diamondback was. While Cottonmouth was, as said before, a really solid introductory villain for the show, it was always clear that he was never the end game. “Blowin’ Up The Spot” is where viewers finally meet Diamondback, who manages to hit Luke with one of the alien Judas bullets that does it’s job on the hero. Yet, it becomes frustrating when a show builds up confrontation only to save it for later. More specifically, Diamondback knows the bullet strikes Luke, he then proceeds to stop the ambulance but won’t pursue Luke to finish him off knowing he’s within a couple hundred feet somewhere. Luke Cage does really well with it’s build up in a lot of situations, but this was one that felt like a cheap ploy to avoid these two character’s confrontation until a later point. Eventually, it becomes clear that the reason for this was to avoid the reveal that Diamondback and Luke share a past of some kind, and Diamondback has been slowly trying to ruin Luke’s life all along.

This was actually a pretty tame episode for Luke as well, who was out of commission thanks to the Judas bullet. While it seems a little forced to have Claire being such a major presence in the show after having only a minor interaction with Luke in Jessica Jones, it is fitting to have her around as the Marvel Netflix nurse. Claire was actually really great in this episode and her interactions with Luke felt very normal compared to everything else she’s done so far, and while her timing is convenient for story purposes, it was nice to see her continued role in the MCU aiding these vigilantes. Claire has also been a really nice counterpart to Misty, who is a pretty tiring character through eight episodes. Although Misty is a pure by the books officer, her constant doubt in Luke is pretty frustrating because even though she has heard his side of things and what he’s out to accomplish, she can’t ever nail him. Misty is just doing her job, but this episode really pushed her into the realm of annoying when she tries to arrest Luke despite knowing in her gut he wasn’t actually responsible for Cottonmouth’s death. Her character just always has an attitude but Claire finally calls her out for basically knowing deep down what’s right but not acting on it because she is afraid to step outside of the corrupt system.

With the death of Cottonmouth, the villain power is shifting in Luke Cage as the third act kicks into gear. Mariah is basically in debt to Shades and Diamondback because it’s the only way her career and stability stand a chance of surviving, Diamondback has finally entered the picture and seems like a wildcard, and Shades is quietly climbing the totem pole of success. It seems like this is going to be the long-term hierarchy in the show, at least, unless Diamondback falls to Luke by season’s end. It would be nice to see how the show sets up for it’s sophomore season though because Mariah and Shades just won’t cut it in the long-run and are pretty sub-par people for Luke to deal with.

“Blowin’ Up The Spot,” is actually a pretty oddly organized episode of Luke Cage compared to everything else viewers have seen so far in the season. The show tries to transition into the final act but things feel rushed and convenient which ends up dampening the impact of things like Luke not being completely indestructible, Diamondback’s introduction, and Mariah’s grieving process. The show seems to instantly brush over the fallout of losing Cottonmouth and there is no full display of the character’s reactions to this shift in the power of Harlem. Despite having 13 episodes, sometimes these Marvel Netflix shows feel unbalanced in their progression and the speed of the storytelling, which is what Luke Cage suffers from in this eighth episode; yet, the show still hasn’t completely lost the tone and pace it’s had up to this point, which is why it will hopefully smooth itself out and finish strong.

Other Thoughts:

  • Shadez weird love/hate thing going on for Mariah is pretty bizarre and freaky.
  • Claire still feels so out of place in this show. I love Rosario Dawson but it seems like she’s just in Luke Cage to be in it.
  • So I find it rather interesting that Diamondback and Shades both know Luke from his previous life, yet that never came up in their conversations?
  • Luke Cage Season 1 Episode 8 Review: "Blowin' Up The Spot"
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