Luke Cage (2016) may be much Lighter and Softer than its predecessors, but it still has its chilly moments.
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Episode 1: Moment of Truth
- Cottonmouth interrogates Shameek, who's already been beaten half to death. He first slaps him a few times "like a bitch" to find out where the money he stole has gone, but when Shameek gives a Spiteful Spit, he simply laughs, and finishes beating the remaining half of life out of him. You can audibly hear the crunching the bones of Shameek's face, and blood-splatter on his shirt, as Cottonmouth caves his face in.
- When Misty and Scarfe look at his body, his eyes are swollen shut to extensive degrees, and while enough of his face is intact that they are able to identify him as Shameek, Scarfe says that they'll need dental records and DNA to officially confirm it since he looks like he got hit by a truck ("a truck with two fists", Misty adds).
- Luke Cage protects Connie while Zip and his crew are shaking the owners down for money. One guy, Amos, makes the unfortunate mistake of trying to throw a punch at his face. Luke just stands still while the cinematography does a slow-motion close up of the man's arm making contact with a human-shaped brick at full strength, with the impact force instead causing his arm to fracture in three places. He's later shown with his arm wrapped in a cast.
Episode 2: Code of the Streets
- Tone firing two submachine guns at once into Pops' barbershop, without a single care in the world, like he's some kind of Frank Castle. And Pop getting killed in the crossfire.
- Subsequently, when Tone reports back to Cottonmouth, there are two back-to-back:
- Tone calling Cornell "Cottonmouth" right in front of him. The guy immediately gets in Tone's face and bellows "MY NAME IS NOT COTTONMOUTH!" so suddenly that the self-assured Tone is immediately scared shitless.
- The suddenness with which Cottonmouth then throws Tone off the roof. True, the guy had it coming (killing Pop is an unforgivable transgression), but still...
Episode 3: Who's Gonna Take The Weight?
- The way in which Scarfe suddenly strangles Chico to death with his own necktie is so sudden it's disturbing. And him putting said tie back on afterwards is borderline creepy.
- The fact that Scarfe has the exact same cheerfully snarky repartee with Cottonmouth that we've seen him have with Misty for three episodes, casually chatting about getting people killed in the same tone he previously used bantering about basketball. He's one cold, cold man.
- Cottonmouth personally firing an RPG into the Chinese diner.
Episode 4: Step In The Arena
- Rackham, the guard who makes Luke's life hell for the fun of it (and on Diamondback's orders). He organizes a beatdown on Luke's only friend Squabbles in Seagate to blackmail Luke into participating in his fighting ring, then when Luke blows the whistle to Reva has Squabbles killed. He tries killing Luke multiple times, paying off Shades and Comanche to beat him into the infirmary, and ultimately sabotaging Luke's tank while he's undergoing the experimental treatment that gives him his powers.
Episode 5: Just to Get a Rep
- We get a glimpse of the Judas bullet and what it can do to a normal person, when Shades shows Cottonmouth some demonstration footage. First off, you know these Ukrainians are black market guys because rather than test it out on a dummy, the people test it on an actual person. The bullet seemingly is absorbed by the guy's flak jacket... then drills into the skin, and explodes, killing the target instantly. We see blood and bits of human flesh splatter onto the camera lens as the tripod is knocked over.
Episode 6: Suckas Need Bodyguards
- Trying to keep a mortally wounded Scarfe alive long enough to give information, Claire is forced to cut into his skin to get the bullet out, and it's done with some graphic close-ups.
- When Scarfe admits he killed Chico, Luke proceeds to choke him with one hand. If it wasn't for Claire, he might not have let up.
Episode 7: Manifest
- Mariah snapping after Cottonmouth says she acted in a way that invited their uncle to molest her and beating the man to death definitely counts. Especially Mariah's shrieking Madness Mantra of "I DIDN'T WANT IT!!!" as she's bashing Cornell's face in with a microphone stand.
- Season 2 retroactively adds some worse context to this instance, since Mariah's daughter Tilda was a product of this constant molestation.
- Mama Mabel cuts off a mouthy underlings's finger with the shears she'd been trimming her roses with. Then she has Pete take him out and subject him to a brutal beat down offscreen before stabbing him to death, not helping matters are the underling's screams and weeping. The blood on Cornell's hands implies that he was forced to finish him off.
Episode 8: Blowin' Up the Spot
- Diamondback's introduction, firing on Luke with a shotgun carrying Judas rounds. And he's smiling as he taunts Luke with The Warriors quotes. This establishes him as a sociopath who takes joy in seeing Luke suffer.
- The way in which Diamondback smiles while taunting Misty at gunpoint. Moreso, it is this for Misty, as she's recounting the incident to the therapist.
Episode 9: DWYCK
- Turns out the only way to draw blood from Luke Cage is to lower a needle down his throat to get to his soft palate.
- Luke Cage being basically boiled alive in heated acid in order to get the shrapnel out of him.
- Diamondback establishes his sociopath status by casually walking in to a mob boss summit at Colon's Gym and killing four of the bosses without breaking a sweat.
Episode 10: Take It Personal
- Diamondback walks up to a random cop and kills him by punching him in the chest with his power glove. The blow is hard enough to cave the cop's chest in, kill him instantly, and throw him backwards 20 feet.
- Moreso, the description of the officer's injuries as Bailey and Misty look at the photos gives you some impression of what injuries Reva sustained when Jessica killed her.
Episode 11: Now You're Mine
- Damon Boone gets the same power glove treatment that Diamondback gave the cop. However, this time, we see the caved in chest more clearly after Shades deposits his body at the club entrance for the ESU team and paramedics to collect.
- Blake Tower's conversation with Inspector Ridley about the Judas bullets. He's fearful of what might happen with the NYPD being authorized to use mass-produced Judas bullets, reminding Ridley that any weapon that the police or military use always finds their way into the hands of criminals. He specifically reminds Inspector Ridley that just months ago, Frank Castle went on a rampage that killed dozens of peoplenote , and asks what would happen if Frank, or someone like him, had access to weapons like that, seeing what he could do to New York City with just regular weapons. In the end, Luke is arrested before the weapons actually need to be used, but Tower believes the damage has already been done just by supplying them to the ESU team. Because now people know that Judas bullets are a thing and have more firepower.
- Blake's fears became reality 3.5 months later when something like the Judas bullets are not only used on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but find their way into the hands of ex-HYDRA soldiers-turned-Watchdogs.
Episode 12: Soliloquy of Chaos
- Diamondback starts a shootout when Domingo and his gang confront him. He shoots his way out of the room until he can get over to the chest containing his power suit. He puts it on, then makes his way back in and kills off all of Domingo's men. When Luke finds the warehouse, it feels like he's a shell-shocked soldier walking through a battlefield as he looks at the bodies of Domingo's men, riddled with bullets or with caved in chests.
- When Diamondback reveals his power suit while Luke and Misty are about to haul in Shades and Mariah. Shades, who has already severed ties with Diamondback in light of Zip's attempt, tries shooting at Diamondback and is shocked when his bullets fail to puncture it.
Episode 13: You Know My Steez
- The fight between Luke Cage and Diamondback is awesome as it is tense. For the first time since he appeared on Marvel, Luke Cage shows what happens when he cuts loose and why he doesn't when fighting regular henchmen. His punches shatter steel, concrete and absolutely decimate cars. It probably gave many Harlemites a grim reminder of the last duel that took place here...
- When Luke hits Diamondback full force, he sends him flying. If it weren't for Diamondback's suit, his head would have exploded.
- Diamondback is able to match Luke blow for blow and more. He actually causes him to suffer internal bleeding. Most likely, he actually broke some of Luke's RIBS. Think about that.
- The Stinger at the end, suggesting Diamondback may no longer need a powersuit to match Luke Cage in the future.
Episode 1 - "Soul Brother #1"
Episode 2 - "Straighten It Out"
- Bushmaster's procedure to get the bullets from Nigel's men out is pretty painful.
- Luke confronts Cockroach as he's beating up his girlfriend Drea Powell, and goes pretty overboard, unnecessarily wrecking the apartment, and traumatizing the man's son and girlfriend by beating the abuser to within an inch of his life.
- It's no wonder that Claire was warning Luke right before this that he was acting more and more like Matt, because viewers of Daredevil know that the incident that drove Matt to become Daredevil was because he couldn't stand the sound of a girl being molested by her father, causing him to beat the father so badly that he spent a month in the hospital drinking from a straw.
Episode 3 - "Wig Out"
- Shades is sent to Brooklyn to collect from Nigel, and instead meets Bushmaster and his men. Bushmaster gives Shades the bags, and in one of them, also has placed Nigel's severed head. Though Shades keeps a poker face, it's clear that he's reading between the lines regarding what Bushmaster is really saying.
Episode 4 - "I Get Physical"
- Bushmaster, who is capable of taking on Luke Cage without the need for a powersuit. The implications are terrifying.
- For Shades, the realization of what Bushmaster wants: Mariah's territory, as there's no other reason why he'd continue Nigel's buyout of Mariah's guns unless he wanted to weaken them.
- As Tomas puts it, if the Yardies are Al-Qaeda, then the Stylers are ISIS, as far as their ruthlessness is concerned. Which certainly explains why earlier scenes seemed to imply that Bushmaster's not really welcome in New York.
Episode 5 - "All Souled Out"
- Misty breaks into Cockroach's apartment, intending to plant a Judas bullet in one of his drawers. Just as recalling how she consoled Scarfe after his son's death leads her to reconsider, she accidentally steps on something. She grimaces when she sees that it's the end of a blood trail, and follows the trail with her flashlight. She finds Cockroach on the couch, missing his entire head, explaining the large amount of blood spilled.
- As for what happened to Cockroach's head, we then immediately cut to Mariah's ribbon cutting ceremony at the Shirley Chisholm complex. Just as she cuts the ceremonial ribbon, she opens the doors to the complex...revealing the severed heads of Cockroach, Mark Higgins, and Ray-Ray all mounted on spikes right inside the doors. It's a gruesome tableau that seems more suited to Game of Thrones than to something like Luke Cage.
Episode 6 - "The Basement"
- Bushmaster orders his men to sweep Harlem looking for Piranha and Luke. This is done through multiple cabs slowly cruising through the streets blasting reggae music at full volume, acting as intimidating as possible. When Sheldon stops Lonnie on one street corner to get a tip, he comes off so unnerving that Lonnie picks up on the fact instantly that he's up to no good.
- While Luke is able to anticipate Bushmaster's moves this time around, Bushmaster surprises him by throwing a powder in his face that paralyzes his muscles, and allows Bushmaster to push him off the bridge to take a 200+ foot plunge into the Harlem River below. It's only thanks to being bulletproof and invulnerable that Luke isn't killed on impact with the river.
Episode 7 - "On and On"
- Continuing from the end of the previous episode, Luke is still helplessly paralyzed due to the effect of Bushmaster's paralysis powder, and unable to swim away, he is drowning. In fact he briefly loses consciousness and his life starts flashing before his eyes before he regains mobility.
- Luke and Misty team up to hunt down Piranha. When they get to where Piranha was held, they're too late, as Bushmaster has already shot Piranha in the head, and left his freshly severed head in a fish tank. The message is clear: "Piranha Jones sleeps with his bredren."
Misty Knight: Shit!
- Just as Mariah and Tilda are preparing to flee, knowing that Bushmaster has bankrupted them, Bushmaster and his men arrive and tie the two of them to chairs. Mariah tries to shoot Bushmaster, who doesn't even flinch as her bullets hit him. He douses the place in gasoline, then as a poetic response to how his mother died, he then cuts Tilda free and tells her to save her mother, before setting the place on fire. Mariah is on the verge of passing out by the time Luke arrives to save her.
Episode 8 - "If It Ain't Rough, It Ain't Right"
- Remember what Tomas Ciancio said in episode 4 about the Stylers being ISIS? Well, that shows in their willingness to try and stage a drive-by on Mariah right outside the police station.
Episode 9 - "For Pete's Sake"
- Thankfully, we are spared the gory images when Bushmaster lets off a small grenade to bust himself out of the police van, only cutting to an exterior shot of the van interior blowing out and then the van coasting forward, driverless. Luckily the two ESU officers riding in back with him survived (probably because of their Kevlar vests absorbing shrapnel), but still.
- After spending the last two episodes wondering what Ridenhour meant when he talked about knowing Tilda's true parentage, we learn the truth: she was a product of Mariah constantly being raped at the hands of her uncle Pete.
Episode 10 - "The Main Ingredient"
- The Rum Punch Massacre may well be the most horrifying gang massacre in the Netflix MCU to date:
- It was wise of Sugar to decide to withdraw from the group before the Massacre could unfold. Unlike the gunfights between gangsters throughout the series, most of these people are innocent civilians. There are a lot of flashing shots of innocent people trying to run before getting gunned down, until the whole thing cuts to the outside as the gunshots just keep going on... and on...
- And if you thought the most graphic gangster killing in the Netflix MCU to date was Wilson Fisk's decapitation of Anatoly Ranskahov by car door, you're wrong. That title actually goes to Anansi. After everyone else is killed, Mariah douses Anansi in the Bushmaster rum, and sets him aflame. As he's lying there, defiant and in pain, she eventually shouts "JUST DIE ALREADY!" and shoots him in the head to finish him off. It's not an act of mercy, but more annoyance at him taking too long to die.
- Also, one of the victims is 14 years old.
- It's no wonder that, in the next episode, Shades decides Mariah is done. She could have just shot Stephanie and it would been enough to smoke out Bushmaster. She could have shot up the Stylers in one of their lairs instead of a restaurant full of innocent people, but instead, she pulls this. Then top that by calling all those innocent people "peasants" by proxy. It actually serves as an in universe Nightmare Fuel for him. As he himself notes two episodes later during his plea negotiation with the cops and US Attorney's office, in his criminal career, he has witnessed, participated and committed even similar horrific acts, even enjoying them, but towards other criminals. The fact that not one, but several completely innocent people were victim to such horrific deaths completely shakes him (while Candace was relatively innocent compared to others, Shades has argued that she was fair game after she took their bribe to lie to the cops about Cottonmouth's death). Which resonates even worse is that innocent people in real life do suffer such things at the hands of evil people.
Episode 11 - "The Creator"
- Shades is having a gradual breakdown, between his guilt over killing Comanche and being shell-shocked by what Mariah did at the Rum Punch Massacre. He's trying to wash imaginary blood off his hands early in the episode, he comes very close to shooting Ingrid when he catches up to her, only deciding against doing so at the last second. And when Mariah taunts him over Comanche's death, he snaps, throws her on the office desk and tries to strangle her. It's only his belief that she's not worth the effort to finish off that keeps him from completing the deed.
- Mama Mabel burning Bushmaster's home with his mom and sister inside, casually ignoring the grieving kid as she throws the contract about Harlem's Paradise co-ownership in the fire as well. Makes the Rum-Punch massacre a case of In the Blood.
- Similarly, Pistol Pete casually gunning down the teenage John in public.
- The scene where Bushmaster's Nightshade induced Healing Factor kicks in to push out the shrapnel in his body is nauseating.
Episode 12 - "Can't Front On Me"
- The climactic fight in the basement bunker below Harlem's Paradise:
- Bushmaster's power boost from the nightshade that Tilda gave him means he can now barehandedly tear down steel-reinforced doors.
- The spasms he has as he powers up call to mind Trish's reactions to Simpson's inhaler, or Will Simpson when he's on his combat enhancers.
- Despite knowing that bullets don't work on Bushmaster, Shades tries to aim for his eye as he busts down the door, and we see him casually sidestep the bullet.
- Luke, a man who has never actively sought to kill people, eventually gets the upper hand on Bushmaster and locks him in a chokehold, preparing to squeeze the life out of him. It's Misty's pleading that gets Luke to stop. And yet, the power-up of the nightshade means that Bushmaster is now able to still easily escape despite the intensity of the brawl.
Episode 13 - "They Reminisce Over You"
- While in prison, Mariah orders anyone who could possibly testify against her executed: dozens of people are gone by the next day, and Alex refers to it as practically every person who's ever worked in Harlem's Paradise in any capacity (and we later find him as one of the victims). When she tells him to relay the order, Donovan practically shits himself in her presence until she clarifies that he happens to be exempt by virtue of his loyalty and attorney-client privilege (and his connections to other criminals), and Sugar is only spared because his wife gave Mariah new clothes.
- After a whole season of appearing to be a regular, good-natured person, Tilda is driven over the edge by the full extent of her mother's evil into becoming Nightshade: she murders Mariah with a kiss on the lips after coating them with a time-delayed poison, leaving no sign at all for what seems to be at least a couple hours before Mariah suddenly coughs up blood mid-conversation with Luke, realizes what happened, and dies moaning about how her insides are burning.
- Luke is really getting fed up with criminals testing him and starts showing it. So he breaks every finger on the hand of one of Rosalie Carbone's henchmen to drive the point home.