Luke Cage: The Basement
June 30, 2018 9:24 AM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

As a wave of violence rocks Harlem, everyone races to connect the dots between Piranha, Mariah, Bushmaster, and the grisly find at the clinic. (written by Aïda Mashaka Croal, directed by Millicent Shelton)

AV Club review - Flawed characterization of the lead hurts Luke Cage

Den of Geek review - The Basement delivers entertainment, fights and fun pairings.

*Luke and Piranha flee from the gun-wielding Stylers, into a building and up to a rooftop. Luke throws Piranha to the next roof (injuring Piranha's leg), then jumps across to join him.

*At Gwen's restaurant, Bushmaster sees the news report about the discovery of the 3 heads (Cockroach, Ray Ray, and Mark Higgins) on spikes at Mariah's clinic opening, and Bushmaster's uncle denounces it as savagery. Sheldon calls in to report the failure to capture Piranha at the party, and Bushmaster tells him to get all of their livery cabs onto the search for him and Luke.

*Luke breaks into an abandoned theater to hide out for the night, and makes a splint for Piranha's leg sprain, while asking him about his connection to Mariah. Piranha spills the beans about the insider trading in the Atreus deal, and his currently holding temporary power of attorney. Later, Piranha tells him that his mother was one of Mabel Stoke's "best hoes", and his father was a favored client who abandoned her when she got pregnant. As an adult, Piranha tried to form a relationship with him, but his father refused to acknowledge him, until his father lost all his money and came at him with his hands out, and Piranha refused him right back. He asks Luke about his father the reverend, and encourages him to talk to him.

*At Harlem's Paradise, Shades orders his crew to protect the club. Comanche argues that they should cut Mariah loose, but Shades leads him to a secret stash of guns he held back from the sale, and says they're going to go "special forces" to find Luke & Piranha.

*At the police station, Ridenhour tells Misty he's taking her off duty until further notice, as Ben Donovan had accused her of harassing Cockroach when she confronted him in his apartment earlier. Misty smashes a shelf in frustration, with her surprising-to-her robot arm strength. Ridenhour tells Mariah about Piranha's disappearance after his party was attacked, and she demands protection for Tilda and herself, but when Ridenhour presses her for details about her connections to Higgins, Cockroach, and all the other dead people connected with her gun deal, she clams up and leaves.

*Shades and Comanche set up stakeout at Pop's. Comanche presses Shades to explain what's so great about Mariah that he continues to be loyal to her instead of just taking over and running things himself. Shades tells him how he watched Cottonmouth crumble under pressure while she rose to the occasion, and how she killed him, that he knows she will be able to deal with the Stylers, that she has shown him a better way - the American Dream. Shades tells Comanche that they're not in prison anymore, that they need to forget about it. Comanche disagrees "Inside, outside I am who I am."

*Misty meets with Dr. Krasner (former department shrink) for dinner, and tells him about how close she came to planting evidence on a guilty suspect. He advises her to "go inside the basement of your psyche, and dust things off and think about what's real. Otherwise, it'll eat away at you."

*At Gwen's restaurant after closing, Bushmaster's uncle argues with him over his actions, and how they will reflect on/affect the community, asking him to find peace, but Bushmaster says he chooses war.

*Back at the club, Mariah tries calling Tilda and Shades but gets only voicemail, and proceeds to get angry-drunk with her assistant, appalled that the fate of her fortune now rests in the hands of her "sworn enemy" Luke Cage.

*In the light of day, one of the Stylers' cab crews notices the broken movie theater plywood, and while Luke is on the phone with Misty they sneak in and grab Piranha, but Luke is able to knock them all out before they get Piranha to their cars.

*At Harlem's Paradise, Shades returns to Mariah after his fruitless stakeout. She rants about the apparent failure of her dream of turning Mabel's 'family first' motto legit, but Shades tells her about how he followed Bushmaster to Gwen's restaurant that time, and they agree that once they get Piranha back...

*Misty tells Ridenhour the truth about her intention of planting evidence on Cockroach, and that she doesn't know whether she would have gone through with it had he not been dead already. Ridenhour is willing to accept her admission with no further consequences, but Misty isn't. She says that Ridenhour's way (following the rule of law) leads to nothing changing, but doing it the other way would turn her into another Scarfe, so she tenders her resignation.

*Luke takes Piranha to his father's church, and asks the Reverend to keep him safely hidden, but to call Misty at the Harlem PD if he's not back in an hour. Luke calls Bushmaster from a Styler's phone and challenges him to a showdown/fair fight for Piranha, on the High Bridge. When the fight begins to go south for Bushmaster, he blows some paralytic dust in Luke's face, then kicks him off the bridge into the water, where he begins sinking like a stone.
posted by oh yeah! (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I agree with the AV Club recap's mixed feelings on the Shades/Comanche reveal. On the one hand, that was a great scene for the two actors, and it's nice that there's an actual explanation for why Comanche has been so pissy at Mariah all these episodes. On the other hand, the MCU still is terrible at LGBT representation, and this is another subtextual relationship, and Comanche being a baddie and a police snitch doesn't bode well for his character's survival.

I had to laugh when Piranha was encouraging Luke to talk to his father; bad enough when Claire was doing it, but, it made zero sense for Piranha's character to take up the "but faaaaaaamily" baton. And then when Reverend James made his appearance, he seemed to have undergone a complete character change -- why is he suddenly all "it's about time" glad to see Luke? Whatever, show, whatever.

I'm drawing a complete blank on the "who else knows about Tone" flashback clip in that scene with Shades and Mariah at the club -- I vaguely remember Cottonmouth throwing a guy off a roof, but, I don't remember the who/why/what of it now, or why Mariah would be asking about it.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:34 AM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think Cottonmouth killed Tone for shooting up Pops' shop in S1. Mariah asks about it because Ridenhour brings it up, inadvertently revealing he has a source of information inside the Shades/Mariah organization. It's what precipitates her leaving the police station rather than continue to play the victim. Furthermore Mariah knows (and Ridenhour apparently doesn't) that the number of people aware of the circumstances of Tone's death is extremely small, meaning that it should be very easy to root out the informant.
posted by axiom at 1:24 PM on June 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

This episode includes a reference to the famous "Where's my money, honey?" panel where Dr. Doom owed Luke Cage, Hero for Hire a whole $200, and Luke Cage tracked down the biggest supervillain in the Marvel universe to collect.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:51 PM on June 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah it took me a minute to remember Tone too.

James Lucas seem to be a completely different person than what Luke's perspective has told us, and for a little bit it seemed like it could be a facade, but in this episode I was willing to give him a chance since Luke is. But yeah, Piranha bringing him up was also completely random. "Hey you got anger issues, is it your daaaaaaddyyyyy??"

That fight on the bridge was tight as hell. I don't agree at all with AV Club that it was weirdly distant. We got some good details there and the far shots showed me how isolated and impressive the spot Luke picked to fight is.
posted by numaner at 5:17 PM on June 30, 2018

I thought the one-on-one character scenes in this episode were particularly good, especially Comanche/Shades. Then again, I've decided to just mentally edit out characters making dumb decisions in this season (c'mon Mariah), and just focus on good actors giving great performances.

The bridge fight seemed very loose and unweighty to me, but I suspect the reason for that is that it sure looked like Mike Colter in most of those shots. Daredevil got away with so much by being able to put a stocking over the main characters face to get a specialist stunt person in front of the camera.
posted by figurant at 8:28 PM on July 4, 2018

Also, the three-bottles-on-fingers "Warriors, come out to play" reference at the beginning was kinda cool.
posted by figurant at 8:51 PM on July 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well, that conversation between Comanche and Shades certainly was something. Comamche's gotta be gone soon, though, since Mariah knows that Ridenhour was told about Tone by someone. (I had completely forgotten about Tone - it didn't even register who Mariah was asking about.)

I liked the fight on the bridge. I thought at first Intimate Shaver had used the dust to blind Luke so he could escape, since there were a few beats between it hitting Luke and showing Luke paralyzed.

At least I found out the identity of the third head!
posted by minsies at 7:01 PM on July 10, 2018

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