Luke Cage Season 2 is getting something of a mixed reaction from viewers - here's why you should keep watching. According to the buzz on social media, a lot of people are tuning out after the first few episodes; the main reason is due to Marvel Netflix's typcial pacing problems; the series assumes you're interested in the character dynamics, but fails to actually generate that interest in the first place. As a result, scenes between Mariah Dillard and toyboy/crime partner Shades initially fall flat. Even Mariah's relationship with her daughter, Tilda Johnson, takes far too long to get going.
By now, it almost has to accepted that pacing problems just seem to be part of the Marvel Netflix brand. Even the spectacular first season of Daredevil was criticized for a slow, meandering pace. Most of the shows have stood strong in spite of this weakness, Luke Cage Season 1 most of all; the series had a style and swagger all of its own. But does this all-too-familiar pacing problem fatally undermine Season 2?
Thankfully, it doesn't; and there are lots of good reasons to stick around. If you're being tempted to give up on Luke Cage season 2, read on to get a sense of the kind of series you'd be missing out on. And don't worry - we'll shy away from spoilers.
Luke Cage Season 2 Makes All Of Marvel Netflix Better
The fundamental promise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that everything is connected - and Luke Cage is one of the few shows to really capitalize on that. Now, don't expect any references to Avengers: Infinity War. The Marvel Netflix timeline seems to be running a few years behind the movies; in fact, Jessica Jones season 2 was the first film to be set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, with mention of the Raft. There are similar hints at the Sokovia Accords in Luke Cage Season 2, with it heavily implied that Luke is an unregistered vigilante and the local Harlem Precinct choosing to give him a bit more leeway as he's a local hero.
Over the last three years, Marvel Netflix has essentially built its own corner of the MCU. Luke Cage Season 2 is the first show to really capitalize on that. Naturally, the series features Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple, Luke's lover - and a mainstay in almost every Marvel Netflix series. Partway through, a legal issue means Luke calls on Elden Henson's Foggy Nelson (of Daredevil fame), who remains a secondary character for a couple of episodes. And then you have Finn Jones's Iron Fist and Jessica Henwick's Colleen Wing. Marvel is doing their best to redeem these two characters after the first season of Iron Fist, and Luke Cage Season 2 does its best to pull it off. This series sets Luke Cage against the backdrop of the entire Marvel Netflix world, and as such it's a must-watch.
Luke Cage Season 2 Might Have Marvel Netflix's Best Villain
Now let's focus in on Mustafa Shakir's Bushmaster, who is absolutely ferocious. By the time you get halfway through the season, you're likely to be wondering whether he's actually one of Marvel's best villains to date. The clashes between Bushmaster and Luke Cage are absolute highlights of the series; the villain is doped up on a dangerous chemical compound that's turning him into a physical powerhouse who can trade blows with Luke, but at a terrible cost. It's true that Bushmaster's plans are initially a slow-burn, but from episode 5 onwards the action comes thick and fast. Bushmaster is as much a strategist as he is a warrior, and it shows.
As always in the Marvel Netflix shows, there are some compelling themes that run through every single character's arc. Sometimes these are overdone - Mariah's dialogue often serves to lampshade them - but they make this series more than just the sum of its parts. They give Luke Cage Season 2 a thematic cohesion that's a vast improvement on the disjointed first season.
If you're tempted to turn off Luke Cage Season 2 partway through, don't; as with some of the best Marvel Netflix shows, this series recovers from its pacing problems to become something truly great.
Luke Cage season 2 is streaming now on Netflix.