TL;DR – This does everything you need the first episode of a new season to do.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
The first season of Luke Cage (see review) started off so strong, with such an amazing cast, and the first big dive into African culture for Marvel in the lead up to Black Panther (see review). However, like many of the Netflix/Marvel TV Shows it lagged in the middle, but unlike the other shows, it just could not stick the landing, with one of the most underwhelming season finales so far. However, while there were real issues, there was also such an amazing potential which we got to see a bit of in The Defenders (see review). So today we take our first steps in the follow-up season as a new player enters the scene in Harlem.
So to set the scene, as we open the world of Harlem is still being rocked by the fallout of The Defenders. Luke (Mike Colter) has cemented his role as the local hero of the neighbourhood to the point where there is now an app which tags where he is as he takes down crime. Misty (Simone Missick) is working through the loss of her arm in the final battle, and in-between physical therapy sessions with Claire (Rosario Dawson) and getting on with her life, she is still not sure what it is that she wants to do with her life going forward. After losing it all almost in the last season Mariah (Alfre Woodard) and Shades (Theo Rossi), now a couple, still run Harlem’s Paradise, but they are struggling to stay relevant in a quick shifting world. Also, while all this is happening a new threat has arrived and Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) is here to stake a claim. Now as we will be looking at the episode as a whole there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
The first thing that is really clear is just how beautifully shot this episode is. I was really interested to see what Lucy Lui would bring to the role of director. As an actor, she has really been excelling and I was really hoping that she could bring that experience into the directing world, and she does. This is an episode where you have extended action sequences, special effects, and large dialogue scenes with multiple protagonists and antagonists, all of these are really technical shots to get right and Lucy makes look effortless. Add to this, Petr Hlinomaz beautiful cinematography where even in the dark of night it is lit exquisitely with splashes of light and colour. Of course, the iconic shot will likely be that moment when Luke emerges from the exploded semi-trailer, and with good reason. However, for me, it was the more quiet moments, like Misty brushing her hair that will stand out. Also, there is an action scene here that goes from 0-100 in a heartbeat and wow I was not expecting that.
With the story, for the most part, what we have in this first episode is a bunch on intrigue meant to hook us into watching that next episode to see where it goes, and on this level, the episode really works. Bushmaster is an immediate presence in the show from his clothes to the timbre of his voice. It shows the potential divide between Clare and Luke, or as they walk away happy the potential devastating moment thus making every moment fraught. It was also great to see Misty get a call to action, to make up for everything that happened, and really want to see how she takes down all those bad guys. There were a couple of threads in the story that made me deeply uncomfortable around the language they used and the inferences about the right type of black, but I’ll chalk that up to me being so white that if I take my shirt off at night I attract moths. Because it is just a tease there is not anything much substantial in this episode, but all the interweaving threads make for an interesting direction moving forward.
In the end, do we recommend Soul Brother #1? Yes, yes we do. As an opening to a season, it did everything that you need the first episode to do, it captures your attention, it gives you breadcrumbs as to what is coming, and throws in a couple of action sequences to boot. Will the rest of the season work as well, I don’t know, but at this point I am interested.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Luke Cage
Directed by – Lucy Lui
Written by – Cheo Hodari Coker
Created by – Cheo Hodari Coker
Based on – Comics written by Archie Goodwin, George Tuska, Roy Thomas & John Romita
Starring – Mike Colter, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Mustafa Shakir, Alfre Woodard, Rosario Dawson & Reg E. Cathey with Jeremiah Craft, Ron Cephas Jones, Thomas Q. Jones, Dorian Missick & Peter Jay Fernandez