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Recap / Luke Cage S1E13 "You Know My Steez"

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Luke and Diamondback duke it out in the street outside the barber shop while the people of Harlem watch.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • The Bad Guy Wins: Apart from Diamondback being arrested, only the bad guys get a happy ending.
    • Mariah has everything she ever wanted: good publicity, a clean record, all threats to her power gone, Luke arrested, and even a new boyfriend in Shades.
    • Dr. Burstein still got a hold of Reva's files and is free to continue his experiments, starting with a heavily-injured Diamondback.
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  • Big Damn Kiss: Before Luke is arrested by the federal marshals, Claire shares one last kiss with him.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The first and final episodes of this season opened on Pop's barber shop and the climactic battle takes place inside it.
    • Luke gives a speech about Harlem for what it is and represents, similar to Mariah's speech in "Moment of Truth", only without the self-serving connotations.
    • Misty's final scene mirrors the one in the first episode where she is scoping out Harlem's Paradise for a crime boss.
  • Ceiling Smash: Cage throws Stryker into the ceiling in Pop's Barber Shop, but as he is wearing Powered Armor, he gets back up and continues the fight.
  • Crowd Chant: The entirety of Harlem starts rallying in support of Luke.
  • Downer Ending: Candace, the only person who could testify against Mariah Dillard, is set up and murdered by Shades; without any proof to link Mariah with Cottonmouth's murder, she's set free and takes over Harlem's Paradise, with Shades still by her side. Dr. Noah Burstein still has his research from Reva's files, and looks like he will perform his experiments on a badly wounded Diamondback. Finally, the police discover that Luke Cage is Carl Lucas, and he's arrested and taken back to jail for escaping prison. The only glimmer of hope at the end is that Mariah lost the files that could prove his innocence as Carl Lucas and they are currently in the hands of his friend Bobby Fish, but that will have to wait for The Defenders (2017).
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  • Early-Bird Cameo: Colleen Wing's self-defense classes are advertised in a pamphlet seen by Claire.
  • Environmental Symbolism: Cornell's Biggie picture is taken down from the office and replaced with a print of Jean-Michel Basquiat's Red Kings, showing two crowned figures instead of one—a nod to both Mariah's more cosmopolitan, artistic tastes, and her new partnership with Shades.
  • A Fool for a Client: Once in the police station, Luke refuses to have a lawyer. He will defend himself.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Diamondback is ultimately defeated by Luke Cage due to the rope-a-dope skills a young Willis Stryker taught to a young Carl Lucas.
  • Hope Spot: After Diamondback is defeated, everything seems to be going fine for the heroes. But then Candace receives a text from Shades, who stole Misty's cellphone, and everything falls apart. Also, the feds come looking for Luke because Mariah had previously revealed his real identity on TV during his fight with Diamondback.
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  • I Lied: Mariah doesn't give Luke the files containing the information about his past, despite their deal, and even tips off the law to imprison him again. On the other hand, she also doesn't have his files with her either.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • The entire final fight is punctuated with flashbacks to the two as kids, contrasting the past (Willis, trying to be a good friend and helping train a prideful Carl to box so he can be prepared for an upcoming match) with the present (a crazed Diamondback whaling on a much humbler Luke, who's doing all he can to stop him or wear him down).
    • Misty mocks Stryker when he is being arrested with the same lines he had used earlier.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Priscilla is correct pointing out that if Missy had just trusted her and the "system" she says is broken then Candace would have been in protective custody and they would have the evidence to stop Mariah.
    Priscilla: Mariah Dillard walked out of here today because of you. Because you didn't trust our system. Because you didn't trust me.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Not only does Mariah get away with murdering her cousin, she takes over Harlem's Paradise with Diamondback and Luke out of the picture.
    • Shades, having made bail, is still free.
    • Dr. Bernstein too. Even though Luke took Reva's files with him, his final scene has him treating Stryker's injuries and ready to resume his experiments.
  • My Defense Need Not Protect Me Forever: Luke realizes that Diamondback's Powered Armor is charged by the impact of the blows he takes. Luke compensates by running a textbook rope-a-dope on him.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Priscilla calls Misty out on screwing up the case against Mariah by not trusting her and the system.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Luke gives a good one when called out for not even trying to work with the police to deal with Crispus Attucks.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Even though Luke managed to get his evidence that he did not commit the crime that he was accused of, he does not have Wrongful Accusation Insurance. Instead, he is sent back to Seagate for the crime of his prison break.
    • Candace's recorded confession is not enough to arrest Mariah, since she already changed her testimony once and was found dead, giving reasonable doubt on the validity of the claim.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Claire mentioning that she knows a great lawyer in town can only mean that she'll call in Matt Murdock to defend Luke, bringing the team together.
    • Claire takes a pamphlet for self-defense classes offered by Colleen Wing's dojo.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Luke is arrested for his past as Carl Lucas, including his escape from Seagate, and all of the villains come out on top, with Diamondback now set to get superpowers.
  • Smug Snake: If she wasn't one before, Mariah completely becomes one following Candace's murder and her acquittal.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Averted Trope. When the cops realize that Luke Cage is Carl Lucas, they bring him back to prison for the crime of his escape.


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