Luke Cage was the third release from the Netflix Marvelverse, coming out in late 2016 after the character was originally introduced in Jessica Jones' first season. In Jessica Jones, he was a bartender who she was obsessed with, and she ended up sleeping with him. But before long, the reason for her obsession came out: She had killed his late wife. It ruined their relationship, and their friendship for a while too. Now freed of Jessica, and off on his own show, what happened in Luke Cage Season 1? I'll run down the main points, character by character.
But before getting into the plot, a few things about Luke Cage, most important being, that's not his name.
Luke Cage's real name is Carl Lucas. He changed it when he got out of prison and decided to drop off the map rather than go back. (He kind of broke out instead of finishing his sentence.) For a while, he ran the bar Luke's, which is where Jessica found him. But after the death of his wife and his encounter with Jones, he moved to Harlem and started working at the most menial jobs he could find in order to lay as low as possible from other powered people like Jones and Kilgrave.
Luke Cage's Powers
Luke Cage gained his superpowers while at Seagate Prison, serving time for a crime he did not commit. While behind bars, Albert Rackham tried to have him killed. In order to save his life, Noah Burstein performed an experimental therapy, which left him with seemingly unbreakable skin, making him bulletproof as well as giving him superhuman strength.
Luke Cage's Late Wife, Reva
During Cage's time in jail, he met Reva Conners, his therapist, who he later married upon escaping. Reva didn't live long, though. She was killed by Jessica Jones, following the orders from Kilgrave.
While at first this seems like a random murder on Kilgrave's part, by the end of Season 1, Cage has discovered Reva knew more about the experiments that were done at Seagate than he realized. He wondered if she'd married him to keep an eye on him.
Temple was the connective tissue that joined all of Netflix's Marvel series' together. She appeared on the first season of all four shows, including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. But Luke Cage is the show where she actually belongs.
When Temple quits Metro-General hospital, she moves back to Harlem, where she befriends and then becomes lovers with Luke Cage. She is the reason he survives a near-fatal wounding by Diamondback, and it is her he promises to return to when he finishes his jail sentence after he's arrested at the end of the series.
The owner of Harlem's Paradise, Cottonmouth, was the main antagonist of the first half of Season 1. A sensitive musician who was beaten into the criminal lifestyle by his mother, Cottonmouth blames Cage for getting involved when a major gun sale goes awry. (In truth, Cage is just trying to protect the young kids who made the mistake of getting involved with the real mastermind behind the theft.)
When one of Cottonmouth's henchmen kills Pop, the owner of the barbershop where Cage had been working to lay low, it's war between the two men. Cottonmouth tries everything he can to take down Cage, including considering getting into bed with Diamondback, the real person behind ruining his gun sale. But before he can make a move, his life is abruptly cut short by Mariah after he impulsively kills crooked cop Rafael Scarfe for trying to blackmail him.
If Luke Cage is Harlem's vigilante with a heart of gold, Misty Knight is the cop who is trying to clean up Harlem by the books. She's stationed at the 29th Precinct, and is working to first take down Cottonmouth and then Diamondback.
In between, her superiors try to insist she arrest Cage for the murders he is framed for, while Mariah tries to throw her off the scent of who really killed Cottonmouth as well as her partner Rafael Scarfe. She gets Diamondback in the end, but Mariah slips through her fingers.
Mariah & Shades
Mariah Dillard is a two-faced politician who claims to be on the side of Harlem while secretly profiting off her political connections. She's also the cousin of Cottonmouth.
Cottonmouth's antics in his fight against Luke Cage, as well as his impulsive killings in connection with the failed gun sale, start derailing Mariah's career as more and more uncomfortable questions come up, jeopardizing her position. When she's told she will resign, she loses it and murders Cottonmouth.
With a murder to cover up, Mariah partners with Diamondback's soon-to-be ex-associate Shades and allies closely with Diamondback in his quest to take down Cage. Though Knight nearly takes her in for murder, Mariah finally brings herself to do what's necessary: She has Shades murder the witness and accepts her place as Harlem's new First Lady of Crime.
Diamondback was the major antagonist in the second half of Season 1. His real name is Willis Stryker, and it turns out he's the half-brother of Cage on their father's side. Stryker always felt their father favored Luke, and that jealousy festered for decades, causing him to chose the criminal life.
When Cage returned to Harlem after his jail stint, Stryker found him and put many of the plot points in motion that we see over the course of the season in order to take his brother down. He's the one hiring kids to help take out Cottonmouth's empire, and he's the one working to frame Cage for multiple murders in the second half of the season.
In the end, Stryker decides if anyone is going to take Cage down, he'll have to do it himself. This is when it is revealed he, too, was experimented on by Noah Burstein and has superhuman strength. Their fight happens in broad daylight in the middle of Harlem, and ends with both arrested at the end of the series, Stryker for his crimes and Cage for escaping jail.
After the events of the first season, Luke Cage has since been released from prison due to the work of the law firm of Hogarth, Chao, and Benowitz from Jessica Jones and the immediate work of Foggy, the lawyer from Daredevil. He also makes an odd couple friendship with Danny Rand from Iron Fist.
During the events of The Defenders, he gets together with Claire for good, and Misty Knight loses an arm in the climactic battle. And that's where things stand when Luke Cage Season 2 begins.
All 13 episodes of Luke Cage Season 2 arrive on Netflix on Friday, June 22, 2018.