Warning: Major SPOILERS ahead for Luke Cage season two
Luke Cage season two brings big changes for Harlem's hero, culminating in the surprising final episode. The end of the season also has major effects, and in some cases endings, for the season's three major antagonists: Mariah, Shades, and Bushmaster (a villain new to the second season).
Throughout the season, Luke finds himself caught between the rising tensions between Mariah and Shades, the owners of Harlem's Paradise, and Bushmaster, who has a bone to pick with Mariah's family. The bodies pile up over the course of the season, and shaky alliances between Mariah, Shades, Luke, Bushmaster, and Mariah's daughter Tilda are made and broken.
We've put together summaries of how the events of the final episode affects the four major players who are competing for control of Harlem. Their brutal struggle leaves some weak, some imprisoned, some dead, and with more power than ever before.
- This Page: Mariah and Bushmaster
- Page 2: Shades and Luke
Black Mariah Bites the Dust
After Shades turns on her in the penultimate episode, Mariah "Black Mariah" Dillard is charged with twelve counts of first degree murder, including for Cottonmouth's death in the first season. The self-proclaimed Queen of Harlem arrives at Rikers prison and narrowly escapes being killed by Annabella Sciorra's thugs.
Mariah is visited by her daughter Tilda, who kisses her gently on the lips as she leaves. As it turns out, Tilda laced her lips with poison, convinced by Bushmaster that Mariah must die for her crimes. After the visit, Mariah calls for her lawyer to change her will, but she does not realize the damage that Tilda has done. Later, while speaking to Luke during a prison visitation, Mariah begins to spit up blood. Only in her final moments does she fully understand her daughter's deadly betrayal.
Bushmaster uses a powerful nightshade compound to get super-strength and bulletproof protection that rival Luke's powers. He has come to Harlem to destroy Mariah, because her family double-crossed his, causing the deaths of his grandfather and his mother. In the penultimate episode, Bushmaster sneaks into Harlem's Paradise through a tunnel from Prohibition, which Mariah's daughter Tilda has told him about. Luke intervenes, stopping Bushmaster from killing Mariah. He chokes out Bushmaster as Mariah screams, "Kill him! Do it! Break his goddamn neck, Luke!" However, Luke sees Misty, who urges him to stop. Bushmaster escapes and flees through the tunnel again before the police can apprehend him.
Tilda helps to hide Bushmaster, evading Misty's questions about his whereabouts. Bushmaster's use of nightshade may have given him super-strength and durability, but the continued use of the poisonous herb also has taken a toil on his body. Tilda tells his aunt Ingrid that he will need rest and a low-dose medication made from the nightshade, which can only be found in Nine Mile, Jamaica. Bushmaster leaves with his remaining family to return to Jamaica.
It remains unclear if Bushmaster will return to Harlem, as his primary motivation was destroying Mariah. With Mariah's death, he could disappear peacefully, or he could re-ignite his anger against Luke Cage and claim Harlem as his birthright.