In these two episodes of Luke Cage, the fortunes of Mariah Dillard, philanthropist, blackmailer and gun runner, go to extremes. She goes from pauper to multi-millionare, and Harlem icon to gangster, in her war against Bushmaster. She also reveals some very disturbing family secrets.
It’s safe to say Alfre Woodard goes all out in showing Mariah’s evolution, and her absolute belief that Harlem would crumble into a billion pieces without her. She has all the skills: charm, cunning and a lot of ego. Episode nine is once again a lot of long monologues about what to do next. Mariah wants the cops to give her immunity if she turns over Bushmaster. Misty refuses and thinks Luke could testify. He’s aware, though, that his image can’t hold up against Mariah’s facade of respect. Deputy Chief Ridley (Karen Pittman), though, is willing to deal with Mariah.
Meanwhile, Luke learns more about how Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) gets his strength. Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis) tells him it’s a mixture of herbs including nightshade. She says it’s due to the herbs special properties. As she puts it, maybe magic is science we haven’t figured out yet. A certain thunder god would agree with that.
She also asks him the truth about Mariah. He tells her a lot, but not everything. Mariah, does, though. Tilda is told her dad was not the father because he was gay. Mariah took care of that by marrying him. Not only that, Mariah admits Tilda’s real dad was Pistol Pete Stokes, Mariah’s own uncle. That’s why Tilda was raised by another family. She even admits killing Cornell. Seeing Mariah explain herself while her sanity slowly dissolves is a very tough thing to see, but Woodard makes it fascinating. More on this later.
At least the familial relations between Luke and Reverend Lucas (Reg E. Cathey) are getting much better. Rev admits he was way too harsh on his son, even blaming him for his mother’s cancer. They’re actually bonding, which is a good thing to see. Let’s hope Jessica Jones will consider the same thing when she returns next year.
They’re still safe in Danny Rand’s secure warehouse until Nandi (Antonique Jones), Misty’s rival at the NYPD, tells Bushmaster where they are. Maybe his offer of three million dollars played a part. That, and she is connected with the Jamaican families.
Bushmaster and his crew gets to the warehouse, and it sparks an intense fight. Misty (Simone Missick) shows she can very tough, especially with a bionic arm.
Luke’s third battle with Bushmaster ends much better, and Bushmaster is captured by the cops. However, he escapes thanks to a mini-bomb. It’s not long before he turns to Tilda for help…and she may be quite willing to do that.
Episode ten, meanwhile, will be best known as the moment where Mariah embraces her true surname of Stokes and every dark secret that it includes. First off, she gets her money back when Donovan (who apparently works for money rather than the law) discovers Piranha Jones took that cash under duress. Then she kidnaps Bushmaster’s Uncle Anansi (Sahr Ngaujah) . She’s not interested in survival, but on destruction over the McIvers and him. She goes to the restaurant,and kills nearly everyone in it. The point of no return, though, us when she burns Anansi alive then shoots him. Even Shades thinks this is going too far.
As of now, Mariah Dillard is the Big Bad because she’s doing it for the power, while Bushmaster can prove his vengeance is justified.
It’s such a pivotal scene, it makes fans forget that Iron Fist actually makes an appearance to see how Luke is doing. It gives Finn Jones a chance to warm up before he returns to Netflix in a few months. He just gives Luke some valuable advice about keeping his cool, and stops Bushmaster from growing nightshade that he needs to get back his strength. He also tells Luke Claire is asking about him, and is also worried about him.
As for Misty, she’s not only welcomed back to the NYPD, she is offered a promotion by Ridley (Karen Pittman). This is quite a change compared to a few episodes before where she all but resigned. It’s mentioned the paperwork didn’t go through. It seems the show wants to keep Misty as a sidekick to Luke, and maybe as a buffer in case his powers get out of hand.
The final review of this series will include some flashbacks, a final showdown or two, and a very unexpected twist in Luke’s life