Monday, October 3, 2016

Unremarkable At Its End, "You Know My Steez" Poorly Resolves The First Season Of Luke Cage!

The Good: Luke Cage's use of reasoning, Direction is fine
The Bad: Characters are almost entirely reactive, Gets so many details wrong for the season's continuity, Pointless flashbacks
The Basics: "You Know My Steez" is a mess of a season finale to cap off the first season of Luke Cage.

Season finales are a key element of producing a serialized television show. The season finale is the payoff to the whole season's worth of emotional investment in the character's journey. For a lot of the first season of Luke Cage, the show was focused on a different adversary and did surprisingly little to amplify the heroism of protagonist Luke Cage, so when "You Know My Steez" comes up as the first season's finale, the emotional impact of the threads left to be resolved is surprisingly minimal. And one of the key element of serialized television is that viewers tend to be detail-oriented and the show hinges on putting everything together in the end.

Unfortunately, with "You Know My Steez," Luke Cage fails to recall the details established earlier in the season.

Picking up where "Now You're Mine" (reviewed here!), "You Know My Steez" is the resolution of the entire season's conspiracies and relationships and it is, arguably, one of the least satisfying works produced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Opening with Luke Cage and Diamondback fighting in Pop's Barber Shop, Diamondback reveals that his new, special, suit was designed by Hammer Tech specifically for Diamondback to use against Cage. Cage and Diamondback fight through the barber shop and out into the street, where a crowd forms. After the fight is resolved, Cage and Temple have a quiet moment together before Misty arrests Dillard and takes Luke Cage in for questioning. While Dillard is being questioned, Alvarez manages to kill Candace, which allows Mariah to go free.

Simone Missick gives an unfortunately erratic performance as Misty Knight. Missick's facial expression in Knight's key scene of epiphany is amazing acting. But when Knight uses her right arm in the episode, there is no evidence that Missick is playing the part with any awareness that Knight had the arm shot up and stitched up earlier that day.

The high point of "You Know My Steez" might well be the on-screen chemistry between Rosario Dawson and Mike Colter as Temple and Cage. Their cute, flirtatious banter is so well-executed that it saves the otherwise non-sensical episode from being completely unsatisfying.

"You Know My Steez" completes the first season of Luke Cage with a troubling level of authenticity. Unfortunately, while there is something refreshing about a super hero story where the good guy does not win and the villains are not simply dispatched, "You Know My Steez" is resolved using entirely inorganically for the story the rest of the season has told. Luke Cage reveals that he did not trust Misty Knight because he did not know her and he takes responsibility for all of his actions in the season.

But then . . .

. . . but then, the season takes a last act turn that makes no sense based on where Luke Cage has been before. The police have nothing on Luke Cage, but the Georgia marshals arrive because they mention of Carl Lucas raised a flag on their system. But given what Dr. Burstein said in "Take It Personal" (reviewed here!), the Georgia Marshals would have nothing on Carl Lucas. Burstein tells Cage and Temple that after Cage broke out, there was a massive cover up at Seagate (which was needed to cover up the fight club, the dead guard, and the experimentation) and we see Reva delete Carl Lucas's records. While the newspaper record that had an old picture of Carl Lucas and Willis Stryker makes sense, there being any computer record of Carl Lucas that showed anything other than him being dead makes no sense based on what was revealed earlier in the season. No matter how many calls Mariah Dillard made to Georgia, there wouldn't be anything they could bring up that would point them to Carl Lucas.

So, "You Know My Steez" has a contrived ending that might play to the stark experiences of its target audience, but it does not fit the story that the season has told.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Luke Cage - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!

For other Marvel Television Universe season finales, please visit my reviews of:
"Valediction" - Agent Carter
"Beginning Of The End" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Daredevil" - Daredevil
"AKA Smile" - Jessica Jones
"A Cold Day In Hell's Kitchen" - Daredevil
"S.O.S. Part 2" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Ascension" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.


For other television season and episode reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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