Luke Cage: Can't Front On Me
July 1, 2018 1:07 PM - Season 2, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Luke teams up with an unlikely ally to combat a new strain of heroin. As Shades plows ahead with his plan, a massive party draws everyone to the club. (directed by Everardo Gout, written by Aïda Mashaka Croal)

AV Club review - Luke Cage finds its footing leading into the finale

*At a house party, a couple have a violet reaction after using some drugs labeled "Bushmaster". At Pop's, D.W.'s girlfriend tells Luke all about it and asks him to handle it. Sugar reports to Luke that Mariah has gotten into the drug business with the Chinese, and Luke asks him to find out where they're operating from.

*At an art auction, Mariah meets with Hong, Carbone, Izqueda, and Yang, heads of the various crime families/organizations. She tells them she will open up Harlem to their organizations, for a price, and they can use her for money laundering.

*At the precinct, Misty and observe Shades napping in the interrogation room and discuss taking him up on his offer to help them take down Mariah for a deal with the DA.

*At the docks, Bushmaster follows the clues to the drug named after him, and walks into a trap. Luke leaps in and shields him from gunfire, then they get into an axe fight with a slew of Chinese gang members. Bushmaster attempts to bomb the place, but Luke holds onto the explosive to keep it from doing damage, and Bushmaster gets away.

*At a cemetery, Tilda visits Cornell's grave.

*At the club, Luke tells Mariah that he's shut down the Chinese drug lab, that Bushmaster is coming for her and Luke isn't going to protect her this time. Mariah believes he's too much of a Boy Scout to actually let harm come to her, but decides to call for a free concert to pack the club full of innocent bystanders.

*At the precinct, Shades signs the DA's deal and begins confessing his and Mariah's crimes.

*Tilda goes to see Sheldon and Bushmaster, and tells them about Mariah admitting to her that she lit the fire and killed Anansi. She tells them she wants to help Bushmaster succeed in killing Mariah, that she can show him the old Prohibition tunnel entrance to the club. She also has a special super-shot of nightshade she's concocted for Bushmaster, but warns him not to use it all at once.

*Shades tells the story of Tone shooting up Pop's shop to kill Chico, and his lawyer recuses herself because her son was the boy Luke shielded from the bullets that killed Pop.

*At Pop's, D.W., Sugar, and Luke talk about the Unity Concert, and Luke is frustrated that Mariah has once again put him in a position of having to protect her in order to protect the innocent.

*At the precinct, Shades tells the story of the murders of Cottonmouth and Candace. Misty leaves the room and starts to cry over Candace, but pulls herself back to looking bad-ass when she brings Shades back a bottle of water, and asks him about Ridenhour. He tells her the truth about Comanche being revealed as the snitch and shooting Ridenhour, and then how Shades killed Comanche. Misty asks about the 38 that killed Anansi, Candace, and Uncle Pete, but the last name is a surprise to Shades. Ridley brings someone in from the interrogation observation room - Comanche's mom, Janis, has witnessed the confession, and spits on Shades. Misty tells Shades she needs the gun or the whole deal is off.

*Luke heads out of Pop's for the concert. Sheldon tells Bushmaster that he's the only family he's got left and he doesn't want to lose him, but Bushmaster says he hears his mother calling for justice, and leaves.

*Shades arrives at the club, and heads up to Mariah's office, where he gets frisked before entering. As Misty, below, listens to his wire, Shades tells Mariah he's sorry about before and wants her back. Luke arrives and sees Misty, and she tells him about Shades' deal.

*Bushmaster drives up to waiting Tilda, and she shows him the stairway to the tunnels. He gives her his keys and asks her to wait for him. At the club, Mariah brings Shades down to her safe room, and they kiss, but Mariah pulls the 38 on him.

*Bushmaster finds his way to underneath the bar, injects himself with the entire nightshade syringe, enters the club, and begins fighting his way up to the office.

*Mariah exposes Shades' wire, but before she can make another Evil Speech of Evil, Shades sees Bushmaster's approach via the safe room security cam displays. Misty and Luke fight with Bushmaster, but he knocks Misty down and knocks Luke through the office window, and he's momentarily knocked out. Bushmaster punches at the safe room door. Shades tells Mariah to give him the gun and get behind her, as they'll only have one shot, and she does. Bushmaster smashes through the door, and Shades fires, but Bushmaster dodges the bullet. Luke and Misty catch up and start fighting Bushmaster again, and Luke gets him in a chokehold, but stops before he kills him, and Bushmaster runs away. Shades gives the gun to Misty, and Mariah is arrested and taken away.
posted by oh yeah! (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I noticed the Stan Lee cameo in this episode -- on a poster Luke walks past before he sees the Unity Concert signs -- but didn't feel like rewinding & pausing to read the full joke. (I'm sure Den of Geek will have a screenshot up, once they've finished recapping.)

I liked the axe fight -- it seemed like a fun gimmick that wasn't as obnoxiously & weirdly racist as many of the other Netflix MCU Asian baddies fight scenes.
posted by oh yeah! at 1:17 PM on July 1, 2018

Harlem trivia: That very cool Zulu Nation mural where Tilda meets Bushmaster is (or perhaps was) on the 126th Street side of the National Black Theatre. The mural is from 2013, it wasn't painted for the show. Here's a way too close panorama I took of it a few years ago. The building was the original home of the Studio Museum of Harlem. Last I heard it was to be torn down and replaced with a 20-story tower that would still include the theater, but I haven't been over that way in a few months to know if the building and mural are still there.
posted by plastic_animals at 2:03 PM on July 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not sure what to feel about the hand axes.
posted by porpoise at 4:21 PM on July 2, 2018

I mean, if it's a choice between the hand axe gang and ninjas, I feel like hand axes are the lesser evil?
posted by oh yeah! at 4:58 PM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Heh. Yeah, I know. It's also a callback to the era and the comics.

I don't feel any antipathy, just... gah. At least they aren't waving around butcher's cleavers.

Unless there was a good plot reason for it. Part of what's got me chaffed is that they were 1960's prop axes. Everyone else's weapons got an update, why not have a Eastern-inspired martial arts system using Vietnam era tomahawk hand-to-hand combat system and everyone had current-day mall-ninja-looking gear? But I'd probably complain about that, too.

No big deal.
posted by porpoise at 10:13 PM on July 2, 2018

I've put off watching the last episode partially because of Luke's defeated "here we go again" when he's talking about the position that Mariah has put him in. I get it, Luke, and I feel the same way. I am completely bored with her machinations, and how she's tied Luke to whatever she's doing.

I also was absolutely not a fan of Luke continually looking at Mariah when he had Bushmaster in the chokehold. You're tired of her, Luke! You said so earlier! Whatever she wants doesn't matter!
posted by minsies at 8:00 AM on July 16, 2018

Maybe I have overlooked something but how is the Unity Concert gambit a defense? Sure, Mariah packs the club with innocents, so when Bushmaster comes to attack her, Luke is obliged to step in and defend the innocents (and her). Great. A fantastic ploy, good for, er, the couple of hours while the concert is on. Does Bushmaster have a bus to catch or something that he cannot wait until the following day to come at Mariah? Or even turn up ahead of time?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:57 PM on July 29, 2018

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