- Artistic License – Biology: The explosion from Cottonmouth's RPG can kill in about half a dozen different ways, some of which (such as internal injury) Luke has explicitly been shown to be vulnerable to. While later episodes establish that Luke's entire body (including his internal organs) is nearly as durable as his famous skin, and Luke's healing factor might help him rapidly recover from the explosion, it certainly wouldn't help Connie. Luke trying to shield her from the initial explosion would do nothing to prevent, say, heat from the explosion scorching her airway all the way down to her lungs and rendering her unable to breathe, a lung collapse from the change in pressure following the explosion, traumatic injury to the brain and the rest of the body as a result of the shock wave from the blast, etc.
- Blasphemous Boast: Rackham to Carl and the other inmates during their orientation:
"Rule number one: You will obey every rule I say after rule number one. Rule number two: None but the righteous shall see God. And since we ain't got no righteous people in here, God ain't gonna have to worry about your shitty prayers. So that means I'm His mean, shitty substitute."
- Breather Episode: The episode takes a break from the main plot to focus on Luke's backstory and time in prison.
- Co-Dragons/Salt and Pepper: Comanche (black) and Shades (white) are Rackham's.
- Continuity Nod: When talking in one of the therapy sessions, Reva mentions among the many rumors about what goes on at Seagate, are rumors of "millionaires hidden in dungeons".
- Death by Irony: Rackham's attempt to sabotage the experimental machine ended up killing him and granting Luke his newfound powers and freedom.
- Dirty Cop: Rackham is the captain of the guards, and runs an underground boxing ring and orders the beatings of inmates who don't fall in line.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": With the exception of Reva, everybody else calls Reggie "Squabbles".
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Rackham tampers with the chemical bath trying to make a last-ditch effort to kill Carl...only for the tank to explode and kill him.
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Discussed when Squabbles claims he has fighting experience from watching martial arts movies. Subverted however, when he also talks about having spent years fighting in Golden Gloves tournaments, showing that he has outside world fighting experience.
- Killed Offscreen: Squabbles is beaten to death by Shades and Comanche after being tortured into confessing Carl's plan to expose Rackham.
- Meaningful Rename: Carl Lucas changes his name to Luke Cage due to his father being a preacher man, and how he's advocated on releasing those who are oppressed.
Luke: Luke 4:18. He used to tell me that... No one can cage a man if he truly wants to be free.Reva: So Luke... Freeman?Luke: Nah. That's a bit on the nose.
- Morality Chain: Squabbles prevents Carl from lashing out after getting out of solitary confinement. He also provides emotional support when Luke is too busy keeping his distance from people.
- Mythology Gag:
- While in Seagate, Carl sports a thick head of hair and beard, even an afro at one point after neglecting to take care of himself.
- Like his comic counterpart, Rackham tries to kill Carl by trying to interfere with the experiment.
- After surviving the sabotaged experiment, punching a wall in frustration and breaking it with his new strength, he exclaims "Sweet Christmas!", just like his comic book counterpart.
- After escaping the prison, Luke is still wearing the wristbands and head gear attached to him by Dr. Burstein. After escaping Seagate, he picks a yellow shirt and pants, making him look quite like his comic book counterpart during the Silver Age. After seeing his reflection, he simply says "You look like a damn fool" and loses the headgear.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Rackham destroys Dr. Burnstein's healing pod in an attempt to kill Carl Lucas and cover his tracks, only for the ensuing explosion to kill Rackham and transform Carl into the invincible Luke Cage.
- Prison Episode: Most of the episode takes place in flashbacks to Luke's time at Seagate.
- Shout-Out: The inmates make lots of comments about the movies they've watched, The Godfather Part II to Chinese Connection to Fist of Legend.
- Survival Mantra: During his first night of imprisonment, Luke's mantra to himself.
Luke: Remember who you are, Carl Lucas...
- Whole Episode Flashback: With a few exceptions, this episode is devoted to the past and how Carl Lucas became Luke Cage.
Recap / Luke Cage 2016 S 1 E 4 Step In The Arena
While Luke is trapped under the rubble of his apartment building, he flashes back to his time in prison.