The first few episodes feel good. Nice music, nice directing, Luke Cage is played by a good actor and a couple of supporting actors are good as well. But from episode to episode it falls into the ridiculous. Cottonmouth has powers in the comics, he's got nothing here... Just another stupid gangster, with an origin story than comes way too late. And then poof, he's dead. Right after the writers put some depth into him. What's the point...
And then Diamondback comes into play. And all turns to mush. Sure, he's his secret brother yeah we'll swallow that... But the Hammer suit and ridiculous final battle ? Also there are a LOT of annoying characters. Shades with his ridiculous smile, 0 origin story and survives strangulation for I don't know how long, coming out perfectly OK ? Yeah sure... Then there's Misty. For how long can she be so clueless, she's supposed to be the smartest but at no point in the show do we see how smart she is. Like it's been said, the villains provide no real danger to Cage. As a comparison, Jessica Jones was way better. The Purple Man provided a much more dramatic arc, it tackled a difficult subject such as rape and manipulation. In Luke Cage even the most dramatic even, Pop's death, was a joke because orchestrated by a cliché of a stupid gangster... Plenty of those in there by the way, Cottonmouth is surrounded by idiots, and he's not very bright himself.
Luke Cage is too powerful for the show. The Purple Man is usually Luke Cage's villain, and psychic powers are perfect against "power men" such as him or Jessica Jones. But here we have regular gangsters instead ? As some points Harlem is well represented, but it turns to a farce way too quickly with Black Mariah. It's like everyone but Cage has a clue about what's going on and Harlem people turn on Luke Cage like that before liking him again... Daredevil had Ben Ulrich, Foggy, Claire, Karen, even that black cop. But here, the police is just a bunch of morons with Misty being slightly less moronic... This is very frustrating to watch at times.
There are a couple of good things: Claire Temple and her will to become the Night Nurse, the Luke Cage origin story in prison, a couple interesting elements such as his deceased wife who actually knew about the experiments and was manipulating him, and a few funny things mainly when Harlem is involved (the Method Man thing was funny). But it doesn't deserve the appraisal it's getting, and like Jessica Jones, 13 episodes is way too long, you can do this in 8 and not need Diamondback... Jessica Jones had more ambition, and delivered more drama.
Second season review :
The second season isn't better. Like I said, Mariah and Shades didn't work in the first season.... And in the second what do they do ? Put them as the main villains... It was a chore to watch these 13 episodes. Bushmaster is alright, so is the introduction of the Jamaican community. But the dialogues often fall flat. It's too long ! The restaurant scene with Danny and Luke is the perfect example. I don't know of any TV show that wouldn't have edited that scene to give it more rhythm. Instead it is uncomfortable to watch... Also, some very predictable plotlines : Mariah's daughter becoming the villain,Luke Cage becoming "for hire", Shades betraying Mariah etc... You can watch it in fast forward, you won't miss anything. Oh and why does Claire suddenly disappear ? It felt really forced, and she doesn't return...Did she break her contract ? Very strange...
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