Luke Cage season two needs less talking and more ass kicking


City Press TV review

Show: Luke Cage

Available on: Netflix SA from June 22

Rating: Three stars

Luke Cage is back, and the turmoil is bigger than ever. In this season, which comes out on Friday on Netflix, Cage’s inherently peaceful nature is challenged by the need to use violence to protect Harlem.

Each of the episodes of this Marvel and Netflix collaboration is inspired and named after a song by the legendary hip-hop duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth. The two were quite a big deal in the hip-hop scene and are worth a listen for those of you who aren’t familiar with their work.

We all know that battles between good and evil are rarely resolved by turning the other cheek or through a conversation. I wish someone had told Claire Temple (played by Rosario Dawson) this. Claire – a nurse who tends to the wounds of The Defenders heroes Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Cage in each of their series – constantly demands that Cage face the terrors of evil by taking the moral high ground, and it annoys me immensely.

It’s been said that, when destroying monsters, we need to ensure that we don’t become a monster ourselves in the process. That sounds simple enough, but how do you face monsters, who only want to kill you, without resorting to violence?

Speaking of violence, the fight scenes in the second season of Luke Cage are just as awesome as they were in the first. Cage isn’t one for big, prosaic speeches before dispensing an ass whooping, making his no-nonsense approach refreshing. He just gets to it with no funny-looking spandex suit or expensive gadgets. All he’s got is a hoodie and the desire to uplift Harlem.

The series does take a while to build up, much like it did in the first season. Spare me the whole boyfriend-girlfriend thing he has going on with Claire. The first season was perhaps better because the two weren’t dating yet.

Now I have to watch Luke get reprimanded by his lady and then they have dramatic arguments and, at one stage, he seems to be fighting back tears. I don’t want to see that. I want more of the scenes like the infamous fight sequence in the first season in which Luke takes down a drug den while listening to the Wu-Tang Clan’s Bring the Ruckus.

You know a show is gangster when you have to rewind a scene like it’s a punch line on a rap record. I am yet to do that with this season.

Either way, this is a season of break beats and broken bones. Luke is the hip-hop head’s superhero and I would suggest listening to the Pete Rock & CL Smooth tracks that each episode is inspired by – this provides context and it’s quite a refreshing way to watch a show – you bump the song and then watch the episode, not many shows have that element.

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