Luke Cage | S1 E4

Another day and other great episode, but as I shun the real world in favour of my Luke Cage fix, will Luke’s origin story prove to be this series lull? ….. Join Film and TV Nerd to find out!

Luke Cage… or should we say Carl Lucas? as we go back to the early days of Luke’s incarceration in Seagate Prison, before he changed his name to protect his identity. That alone answers the big question of why Shades doesn’t recognize this person he was in prison with — and, of course, the fact that Luke has lost that pretty insane fake beard.

The bulk of the fourth episode was flashbacks to Luke’s time at Seagate, setting up how he became the man he is in the present. More important than just establishing how he knew Shades, the flashbacks deepened our understanding of Luke’s relationship with his late wife Reva and how the two of them fell in love.

There are a lot of Easter eggs stowed away in this episode, from the classic Power Man outfit he’s wearing after his Seagate escape to Reva’s ill-fated USB stick that brought about her eventual death, which we learned a significant amount about in Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Though it was exposition heavy, this episode did about as much important heavy lifting as Luke did in the present when he rescued Connie from being trapped under her destroyed restaurant and apartment complex.

In the flashbacks, we see Luke being formed emotionally and physically into the superhero we met him as. While in Seagate, he was forced into a prisoner fighting ring orchestrated by the guards, and when he tried to get away, he was beaten by Shades and another complicit prisoner to within an inch of his life. Reva begged Seagate’s doctor to save Carl by any means necessary, but time in a healing tank gone awry resulted in Carl becoming the ultra-powerful man he is in the present. When he escaped Seagate, he went straight to Reva, where we learned there’s more to her than meets the eye too.

That’s perhaps the most exciting thing about learning about Luke’s origins at this point in the story. A flashback episode seemingly was supposed to resolve a lot of questions about Luke Cage’s title character, but instead it revealed many more compelling ones. What happened to Luke to get him imprisoned to begin with? What did Reva know about Seagate? What did she do before she was a psychiatrist?

Those big picture questions coupled with Luke’s coming out at the end of the episode offer some solid forward momentum for Luke Cage in a refreshing new way. It was nice to have an episode that focused in on Luke instead of the other characters, like Cornell Stokes and Misty Knight, surrounding him. Star Mike Colter did a great job showing Luke’s simmering rage in prison, and it helps us appreciate who he is in the present by seeing him so far in the past. He and Parisa Fitz-Henley infused Luke and Reva’s relationship with a great chemistry that makes you understand why he was so torn up about her death in Jessica Jones.

Marvel’s Luke Cage pressed pause on the present day storyline to dive into Luke’s past. As much an origin story for his personality as it is for his superhero abilities, the fourth episode of Luke Cage: Season 1 pulled back the curtain on the show’s title character in some meaningful ways. His relationship with Reva stood at the center of the episode, and there were a handful of interesting surprises and new mysteries there considering how well covered it already was in Jessica Jones. This episode proved to be a refreshing pause from the main Cottonmouth storyline as viewers got to get to know Luke Cage a bit more personally.

What did you think of this episode?

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