Luke Cage (2016) is the third Marvel television show to debut on Netflix, following Daredevil (2015) and Jessica Jones (2015). While a second season of Luke Cage has not yet been announced, the show’s creative approach to the superhero genre has generated a lot of attention. The character is already slated to appear in The Defenders (2017) alongside Matthew Murdock, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist (who will premiere in Iron Fist earlier in 2017).
Audiences had a number of questions leading up to the release of Luke Cage. However, after watching the show, there are still a lot of unanswered questions – and some new questions that need answers! It’s possible that some of these here will be explored in subsequent seasons or shows. On the other hand, some of the unexplained plot points felt like plot holes which Luke Cage skimmed over in order to streamline the story. Reviewing the show’s first season, we found that there were a number of plot points that needed explanations (which we may or may not get in the future).
Here are the 15 Unanswered Questions After Luke Cage Season 1.
15. How can Mariah count piles of money so fast?
At the beginning of Luke Cage, Mariah is concerned about the election funds that she gave to Cottonmouth for his club. She needs the money back, but after Chico’s gang steals from Cottonmouth, she is forced to wait for her cash as he tries to apprehend the would-be robbers.
Twice Cottonmouth shows Mariah a large amount of money. Both times – instantly – she is able to tell him if that money presented to her is enough or not enough money. Everyone else in the scene agrees with Mariah’s momentary calculation. While this is almost certainly done to move the plot forward quickly, there is no way that anyone would possibly be able to count money that quickly with a single glance. While this is a seemingly small, details that are counter to reality can be jarring and remove the viewer from the action at hand. Then again, maybe Mariah has a superpower of her own.
14. Where are Luke’s parents now?
The parents of Carl Lucas (or as we know him, Luke Cage) are thrust into the forefront of the show during its second half with the introduction of Diamondback. Diamondback, or Willis Stryker, is a childhood friend of Luke Cage’s who turns out be his half brother – the product of Cage’s father’s infidelity with Styrker’s mother. Both Luke Cage and Diamondback discuss Luke’s parents, presenting sometimes conflicting images of them. It’s difficult for the audience to know if Luke Cage’s father really did favor Luke; by Luke Cage’s account, his father didn’t seem particularly fond of either son, but Diamondback’s jealousy of Luke is his primary motivation through the show.
When Luke Cage visits his father’s old church, he discovers that it is in ruins. While the audience learns that Diamondback’s mother passed away, the whereabouts of Luke Cage’s parents are still unknown. Perhaps they could appear in the future – and have some answers for Luke about his past.
13. How did Diamondback frame Luke Cage?
The audience learns that Luke Cage went to prison for a crime that he did not commit. It’s later revealed that Willis Stryker, Diamondback, is responsible for Carl Lucas going to prison; jealous of their father’s favoritism of Carl, was bent on revenge and framed Luke for a crime. The details of that crime are not explained, but the particulars of the situation could help frame Luke’s experience in prison, both in how the other prisoners view him and how long he can expect to stay in Seagate.
Whatever the crime was, it seems that Diamondback believed that Luke Cage would be in prison for a long time. It’s likely that the crime was serious, perhaps even deadly, which wouldn’t be surprising, given Diamondback’s penchant for blood. Still, the show avoided explaining the details of the situation of the crime, and how Diamondback managed to frame Luke Cage for the crime.
12. Was Reva trying to leave her unethical experimenting life behind with Luke, or was she just using him?
Reva’s character is at the center of many mysteries. Before Luke Cage, Reva’s presence is Jessica Jones was also unclear. Unfortunately, while Luke Cage provided Reva with additional characterization during flashback sequences, Reva continues to be an enigma, both for the viewers of the show and for her husband. Her death could mean that many questions remain unsolved, but her past could also be at the center of stories to come.
Reva tells Luke Cage that she was not involved in the experimenting at Seagate; later in a video tape, that is revealed to be untrue. Since Reva is an unreliable source, Luke realizes that he didn’t actually know his wife at all. Her motives remain unclear. Did she even love Luke? Was she trying to escape her life with him? Or was her relationship with him simply a way of controlling him? Because of her death, audiences may never know Reva’s true motives.
11. How is Reva connected to Kilgrave?
Reva was first introduced to audiences in Jessica Jones. In Jessica Jones, Kilgrave attains a flashdrive from Reva and then orders Jessica Jones to kill her. This action helps Jessica Jones to break free from Kilgrave’s control, but Reva’s life is still ended in the process. Reva’s connection to Kilgrave is never explained. Somehow, Reva got video footage of Kilgrave as a child, being experimented on by his parents. While Reva was involved in similar experimental procedures at Seagate, she isn’t old enough to be involved with the experiments on Kilgrave. Was someone who was involved in the experimentation of Kilgrave also involved at the prison? Did Reva know Kilgrave? Is there a missing link?
It’s still unclear how Reva got ahold of the information on the yellow flash drive presented in Jessica Jones. The flash drive that Luke shows to Dr. Burstein in Luke Cage is a different color, but based on how they are talking about it and Reva, that seems to be a continuity error.
10. What else was Reva involved in?
The flash drive from Jessica Jones which (accounting for the continuity error) also appears in Luke Cage contains many other files and videos, apparently of other children being experimented on. Was Reva involved in these experiments? Did she collect the videos? Or did she come across this flash drive somehow? Reva was clearly involved in some sort of illegal and immoral experimentation, but the other information on the flash drive is perhaps the best chance that Luke Cage will have for answers about his wife.
Reva continues to be a mystery, and after season one of Luke Cage, it seems that all Luke knows is that she isn’t who he thought she was. However, Reva’s connection to Jessica Jones, Kilgrave, Dr. Burstein, and Seagate Prison makes it so that she could continue to appear and influence all of the Marvel superheroes in future seasons, even if she is dead. It certainly wouldn’t be all that surprising if she continued to appear in unexpected places.
9. Does Seagate still experiment on people?
Based on the end of the season, Seagate Prison is still in operation. Although Luke Cage had escaped, there was no indication that the experimentation that was happening at Seagate was discovered or shut down. It is possible that experimentation has continued, and that could offer additional superheroes or villains in upcoming shows. However, since Dr. Burstein doesn’t appear to be still working at the prison, it’s unclear who would be in charge of running these experiments. Additionally, since Dr. Burstein didn’t know how to replicate Luke Cage until Claire’s breakthrough to save Luke’s life, it could also be that even if the experimentation has continued, it may not have yielded any additional success.
The current state of Seagate will likely be revealed when audiences follow Luke Cage back to the infamous prison. Until then, fans will have to wait to learn if there are other people who have been affected by the secret experimentation.
8. What has Dr. Noah Burstein been up to all these years – and why does he go back to experimenting?
Dr. Noah Burstein is a pretty one-dimensional character – but he still generates a lot of question marks. The cliched “evil scientist”, Dr. Burstein’s motivations or personal history aren’t explored at all within Luke Cage, and both in the flashbacks and in the present, he ends up being more of a plot device (how Luke got his powers; how Luke survives the Judas bullets) than he is a character. When Claire confronts Dr. Burstein, he is at first hesitant to talk about his past at Seagate prison with her. What has happened in the interim to Dr. Burstein is not discussed.
However, especially given the end of Luke Cage, Dr. Burstein isn’t remorseful of his past – if he had stopped experimenting until Luke came along, their reunion inspired him to try again, this time with Diamondback. Why Dr. Burstein would attempt this treatment on Diamondback, who is known for his murderous temper and uncontrollable behavior? Did he learn nothing from last time?
7. Is Justin Hammer still in Seagate, and how does he relate to Diamondback?
One of the biggest “Easter Eggs” in Luke Cage was a reference to the “millionaires in the basement” of Seagate Prison. Seagate is where Luke Cage is sent after Diamondback frames him for a crime that he didn’t commit; it’s where Luke first meets Shades and where Luke gets his powers. But Luke isn’t the only notable villain to be in Seagate; two of Iron Man’s former nemeses from the Marvel Cinematic Universe are currently in Seagate, Trevor Slattery and Justin Hammer.
Seagate isn’t the only reference to Justin Hammer, one of the major antagonists in Iron Man 2 (2010). Hammertech, his arms company, supplies Diamondback with the Judas bullets that can harm Luke Cage and Diamondback’s power suit. However, the relationship between Justin Hammer and Diamondback is not explored – perhaps because actor Sam Rockwell who played Justin Hammer is outside the scope of the television show. How does Diamondback know Hammer? Is Shades (who was also in Seagate) a link between them – or perhaps did Hammer introduce Shades to Diamondback? Is Justin Hammer even in Seagate anymore? The reference to Hammertech was a nice touch that connected Luke Cage to the larger MCU, but it created a number of unexplored questions.
6. How is it that Carl Lucas’s illegitimate half-brother happens to be the arms dealer that Cottonmouth was working with?
The first and second half of Luke Cage have somewhat self-contained story arches that focus on different primary villains. The first half pits Luke Cage against Cottonmouth; after Cottonmouth’s death, the shadowy Diamondback takes the forefront. However, once Diamondback arrives, it is revealed that his relationship with Luke Cage is personal. Unlike Cottonmouth, whose problems with Luke Cage stem from his illegal dealings, Diamondback’s activity as an arms dealer is dwarfed by his personal vendetta against Luke Cage.
In many ways, this aspect of the second half of Luke Cage feels like too much of a coincidence. Diamondback just so happens to be Luke Cage’s half-brother/former best friend who framed him and sent him to prison. On top of their past, Diamondback still harbors overwhelming jealousy and resentment because of their father’s favoritism. Diamondback, alerted to Luke Cage’s location, abandons his business in order to pursue his personal revenge from childhood. What are the odds of that happening?
5. Why doesn’t Diamondback kill Misty?
In episode 8, Diamondback holds Misty at gunpoint. She freezes, believing that she is going to die, but Diamondback doesn’t shoot. Instead, he knocks her in the head, stating that he plans on keeping her alive in order to hurt Luke Cage more later.
Keeping Misty alive is important, as killing her would have drastically altered the events of the show. The ramifications of Misty’s encounter with Diamondback are also important for Misty’s character development. But Diamondback’s motivations in the moment are perplexing, even though he states them. Why would he choose to keep Misty alive, especially since she has seen his face and can identify him as someone who is trying to attack Luke Cage? Why would putting off her death be a better strategy, since moments before he was trying to kill Luke as quickly as possible? Diamondback is an impulsive villain, but this decision did not follow any logic.
4. Why does Claire let Luke Cage pursue Diamondback?
Directly after Diamondback knocks out Misty, he flees; Claire and Luke leave the abandoned clinic to find Misty. Claire and Luke came to the clinic in the first place because Luke had been shot by a Judas bullet. Claire discovered at the clinic that she has no way of getting the Judas bullet out. And yet, somehow, as Claire turns her attentions to Misty, she tells the injured Luke to go after Diamondback. Once again, much like Diamondback’s decision to keep Misty alive, it seems that this decision exists to keep the story moving.
However, his is completely out of character for Claire: why would Luke in his current state seek out Diamondback, who could have more Judas bullets? Additionally, this is completely out of character for the careful and calm Claire. Even if the weakened Luke suddenly wanted to pursue Diamondback, why would Clarie not only let him leave, but encourage him to go?
3. Does Diamondback’s plan to frame Luke Cage as taking hostages at the rally make sense?
Diamondback’s decisions during the second half of Luke Cage are puzzling at best. His major scheme of framing Luke Cage in order to destroy his credibility starts to make him look unhinged, especially after he decides to take the protesters at the anti-Luke Cage rally hostage. He tells a skeptical Shades that the details won’t matter to the police, but it would be a stretch for the police to link the large number of armed men holding a group of hostages to the completely unrelated Luke Cage.
The group of hostages would not help Diamondback’s story, since their own interactions with Luke Cage were minimal at best. Conversely, killing all of the hostages would not help Diamondback to propagate the story to discredit Luke Cage.
In contrast to framing Luke Cage for the death of the police officer, this step doesn’t seem to help Diamondback’s cause. Instead, it seems convenient for the story arch, but does not resemble a logical progression for any of the characters involved.
2. How does Diamondback escape from Harlem’s Paradise when it is surrounded by police?
During the standoff and hostage situation at Harlem’s Paradise, there are a number of police officers surrounding the building. As the hostages pour out, they are all stopped by the police for questioning. Diamondback holds Candace threateningly over the ledge, throwing her to allow for his escape. Luke is able to save Candace, but by choosing to save her life, he cannot escape and he is apprehended by the police.
And yet, somehow, Diamondback (whose diversion takes up a matter of seconds) manages to evade police capture completely. It’s possible that someone could disappear in the confusion, but it would be difficult for Diamondback to blend into a crowd, especially since so many of the hostages would be able to identify him and his involvement in the preceding events. Once again, the needs of the plot require a suspension of reality, but unfortunately, it creates plot holes that aren’t covered.
1. How long will Luke Cage stay in prison – and how does this lead to The Defenders?
The end of the first season of Luke Cage opened up a lot of questions for the future of the character. After a kiss with Claire, Luke is escorted by U.S. marshals to return to Seagate prison, to continue serving the sentence for whatever crime Diamondback framed him for. Perhaps the most pressing question of all is how long will Luke Cage stay in prison (or will he even make it there)? It sounds like Claire is going to get Matthew Murdock on the case, which perhaps opens the door for The Defenders. It seems equally likely that Luke Cage could be in prison for a short period of time, or a considerable time jump could occur between Luke Cage and The Defenders. How will Luke Cage change in the time between now and his next appearance? Will his return to Seagate help to explore some of the unresolved questions from the first season? Fans will have to wait to find out.
Was there anything that you noticed during Luke Cage that didn’t add up? Do you have questions that weren’t answered? Start a conversation in the comments!