HARLEM NIGHTS: LUKE CAGE S1E10 – “Take It Personal” (REVIEW)

luke-cageMarvel’s Luke Cage
NetFlix Original Series

Season 1, Episode 10: Take It Personal
Air Date:
 30 September 2016
Starring: Mike Colter, Frankie Faison, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Frank Whaley, and Alfre Woodard

WARNING: SPOILERS – review written for those following the show who have watched episode ten through its completion!

In episode 10, we get, what should be, the final rounding out of Luke Cage’s background story, at least as far as that covering his childhood. After being patched up by Doc Burnstein, and both Luke and Claire essentially threatening his life before departing, they return to Cage’s childhood home (and mine). There, Luke retraces the linkage between he and Diamonback and arrives at the conclusion that, while his father may be to blame, it is on Luke to set things right. Luke returns to Harlem’s Paradise where an anti-Luke rally is being held. Misty confronts Stryker, and Luke barely arrives in time to bail her out. We close with Team Cage cornered and ripe for the kill. A total cliffhanger.

So there are elements of this episode that I like. And there are ones that I don’t. A good summary is that I liked the overall meat of the plot-points, but I did not care for the connectors, or rather how the producers went about moving and shifting everyone into place.

Scripting. While standing on the shore looking out at Seagate, Luke mentions that he just wants to get away from all of the crap in his past, and Claire jokes that she wishes he had told her that 4999770863ec092fa_cbefore they drove down to GA. But obviously they had to drive there to save Luke’s life. Luke is obviously talking about Reva, Seagate, Stryker, and other things, not about Burnstein saving his life. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but the writers either made a lazy joke, or failed to round it off with Luke saying something about the trip saving his life and therefore having been worth the time.

It makes absolutely no sense for Claire and Luke to go to Savannah, GA. Well, maybe only because it is in close proximity? You see in the road trip scenes down to GA Claire and Luke driving on Highway 80. Although that didn’t make any sense either, as the stretch they were on is far west of the coast and they would have had no reason to be there if they had made a straight shot south from New York on I95. They would have been on a much wider and flatter section of Hwy 80, from Savannah going east out to the Islands. My guess is that Seagate is somewhere off of Tybee Island, and that would have placed Luke and Claire within 20 minutes of Savannah.

luke-cage-1-e1475352415780But I’m kind of hamming it up with the inside baseball on the area’s geography. The real issue is that it is just plain silly for Luke to go home, walk into his childhood church for all of 5 minutes, and have that jog his memory that “oh, yeah, my dad was sleeping with his secretary and my Mom knew and Stryker was the secretary’s son”. If this was supposed to be a vignette of a longer trip, they need to flesh that out with a line or two of dialog so that the scene does not come off as preposterous as it does. 

I like the continued plotting between Stryker and Mariah. But Stryker standing out in the open after he’s recently threatened a cop, who can now ID him easily is stupid. As is the cops buying that Luke Cage would publicly incriminate himself by shouting his name on an open street after killing a cop, while concurrently wearing a hoody. Would a guy trying to conceal his identity by pulling a hoody over his features shout his name at the top of his lungs?

The episode is disjointed. Mainlybecause, like I mentioned in the episode 9 review, the writers have left a Mack truck sized whole of plot points to wrap and a very limited number of episodes to do marvels-luke-cage-season-1-episode-10-10-a1ffit in. It is almost as if they throttled the pace too much in the early episodes, and now did a big “oh, crap!” and are struggling to figure out how to shoe-horn everything in. The episode is not horrible in its entirety. But in the whole lot, there are only two or three scenes that are necessary. I feel like they could have covered the first two (Luke waking up, the Reva video) in the opening 10 minutes, then cut straight to Luke’s return to New York and set up a more elegant encounter for the next segment of the continuing conflict between he and Stryker. And we’ve gone a few episodes without really seeing Luke in action. Simply because it is Power Man, I do not think this show has the luxury of resting  too long on its laurels doing character dev episodes and talking heads. Luke Cage punches things, and that’s what fans want to see.  Let’s get back to it.

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