HARLEM NIGHTS: LUKE CAGE S1E12 – “Soliloquy of Chaos” (REVIEW)
Marvel’s Luke Cage
NetFlix Original Series
Season 1, Episode 11: Soliloquy of Chaos
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 twelve through its completion!
Take it for what it is worth that I am writing these final three Luke Cage reviews out of order. I has been some number of weeks, maybe two, since I completed my viewing of episode 11. Last night, I viewed this episode, Soliloquy of Chaos, and then, unable to put the series down (it’s a special curse of mine that I cannot watch the second-to-last episode of any series and stop), binged through to the end. The series, in my mind, ends with a strange bit of pacing, but that is a topic for the next post that I’ll write. The main thing it elicits and should be understood is that this is the series’ true season one finale…minus the first 15 – 20 minutes of 13. The remainder of Episode 13 is something quite a bit…different.
Episode 12 opens with the aftermath of the Harlem Paradise hostage situation. Luke is apprehended by the NYPD. Misty approaches and, in a moment when I thought she was going to exonerate him on the spot and order him released, she speaks in veiled tones and essentially tells Luke to make his escape en-route before the armored paddy-wagon completes delivering him to the NYPD Harlem precinct. Luke takes the advice in stride and does exactly that, getting help from an older cop who, though having Luke cornered, expresses his trust and belief that Luke is innocent and sends him on his merry way to track down Diamondback.
In the meantime, Shades is released from prison after a weak effort at interrogation from Detective Priscilla. Before reconnecting with Mariah, Shades survives an attempt on his life by Zip and a couple of Red Shirts. My feelings about Shades throughout this Season have run the gambit between hate and love. Theo Rossi has been one of the performance highlights among the cast, and I found myself rooting for him as he fought for his life. I am not sure if that says something about me really liking Hernan Alvarez as a character, or if it’s just that I like anyone who is against Diamondback.
Shades’ connection with former Councilwoman Mariah Dillard is one of the creepier elements of the show. At this stage, I liken it to a dedicated son taking care of an aged mother. That is one of the reasons that the relationship makes my skin crawl as the season progresses from episode 12 to episode 13. But again, I’ll hold off on that discussion.
The highlight of this episode is a two-part scene featuring Method Man of the Wu-Tang clan. Luke encounters him as he breaks away from his efforts to escape to stop a robbery in progress at a local convenience store. Honorable as always. In the rescue, Luke and Meth, who is playing a customer in the store, exchange hoodies. MM then makes an appearance on a radio morning show hosted by Sway and Heather B. Method Man speaks on the powerful hope and strength derived from the notion of a black hero, a man unafraid, and committed to doing the right thing for others, despite the fact that it puts his own fate at risk. When asked why Luke Cage is running if he is such a hero, Meth comments that being bulletproof will always come second to being black, and that fear of how he will be treated by the system will override any desire to submit himself to it. The scene is so amazing due to its scripting and Meth’s performance and line delivery. It is concurrently woke, truth, and word is bond all in one. It takes one character and delivers in one message everything that the show is about; everything it is trying to achieve in a landscape that is still predominantly monochrome in its depiction of demographics, and everything that is represented in the character of Luke Cage. It is almost for this singular reason that I rate this episode as one of the best of the season. This scene ends with an excellent track from Meth titled Bulletproof and is one of the best musical pieces in the series.
Reconnected like some kind of sick (sicker) Bonnie and Clyde, Shades and Mariah arrive at Pops’ barbershop to parley with Luke. The arrival of Misty Knight almost leads to an immediate gunfight at the OK Corral. And just as it appears that the conflict is (barely) under control and the parties may agree on a cease fire, Stryker shows up. Dressed from head to toe in a Hammer Tech combat suit. The stage is set for the final showdown, and episode 12 left me with a high-degree of confidence that it was going to be great.