The beauty (and the danger) of a Netflix series is you can tell a story that sprawls. I think Luke Cage is the first one that doesn’t feel like it’s spread out for its own sake.
This season we return to Harlem to follow the adventures of Luke Cage as he finds himself caught in a mob war.
Luke is trying to figure out how to handle being a full time hero. He’s working (and living) out of Pop’s barbershop, and an app (the Hero of Harlem app) has been created for him, allowing people to keep track of his location. This is as bad an idea as it seems.
There’s a short plotline where Luke attempts to capitalize on his heroic abilities. At no point does he attempt to get a job at a car show, which is disappointing. If you’re old.
This season’s new antagonist is Bushmaster, a Jamaican crime lord who is seeking vengeance on Black Mariah’s family transgressions. If you’re from a town with a significant Jamaican population and have a passing familiarity with patois then you’ll get something extra out of the show.
Meanwhile, Mariah and Shades are seeking to take the Stokes empire legitimate. This involves other crimes, but white collar.
Luke’s preacher father and Mariah’s daughter, a doctor and herbalist (but not a roboticist), are also introduced.
Misty Knight is trying to get back into cop-work with only one arm, and dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath of that injury with the help of Colleen Wing. I could have done with more of them together.
It’s still a joy to watch Misty reconstruct crimes, but it would be better if they were once in a while crimes we hadn’t seen committed a few minutes earlier.
The season is a series of generational tales. Mariah and the legacy of Mother Mabel and the effect of her choices on her own daughter, and the effect of her family’s feud with Bushmaster on him, and Luke’s troubled path to reconciling with his own father.
There are also great action sequences. Bushmaster is a stronger villain than Diamondback was and you get a lot of gunfighting and superfighting.
And, if you’re a big fan of Power Man & Iron FIst, you get an episode where they go to town on crime! If you’re one of the incredibly vocal contingent who really, really didn’t like Iron Fist, well, it’s only one episode.
The series does not feel like it goes on too long (unless, I guess, you hate Iron Fist, then you’ll probably think it goes an episode too long). It does divest itself of some recurring characters from the first series in non-permanent ways. And we get to hear Luke tell someone “Where’s my money, honey?” even though it’s notDr. Doom.
You get so much of Luke’s story as he struggles to save Harlem from the violence erupting from the mob war. Characters have interesting arcs and some of the storylines are somewhat Shakespearean. It’s a good sequel and it takes Luke and his cast in interesting directions.