Luke Cage Season 2 saved their biggest twist for the end of the season. All the way through the season, things seemed to be following the strict code of Marvel's on-screen rules. The good guy is always in the right, and if he's ever in the wrong, he sees the error of his ways and makes amends. The bad guys will be taken down so a new one can spring up in their place. But then it all went sideways. Will there be a Luke Cage Season 3? Warning: Spoilers for Luke Cage Season 2 follow.
When the final episode of Luke Cage begins, Mariah Stokes has finally gone to prison, where it looks like she'll stay. The Bushmaster has also been defeated, his abuse of the Nightshade drugs have left his body a broken wreck and his mind feeble. His aunt takes him back to Jamaica on a plane, with the hope he can live out the rest of his days in relative peace, and be buried among his ancestors.
This leaves Harlem without a crime kingpin, causing gangs from other areas to try their hand at taking over the storied neighborhood. Obviously, the time is ripe for a new ruler of Harlem to rise up and take control of the situation. Tilda, Mariah's daughter, is the most likely candidate. She's spent the whole season struggling to accept she is a Stokes. When she kills her mother in prison, it looks like the perfect set up for a new queen to rise.
But no, instead the show did something no on-screen Marvel franchise has ever dared do: They made the new Godfather of Harlem Luke Cage. They made the good guy into the villain.
As Mariah says as she dictates her will and leaves him the deed to Harlem's Paradise, she learned a few things about Luke from his father. Luke Cage is a big boy scout. And like an eager puppy who believes in himself as the ultimate good guy, he's too innocent to see the club for the trap that it is. He thinks he can take the power she's giving him, of being in the center of the heart of Harlem, and he can step up and make it work for the side of good.
But absolute power corrupts absolutely. Also, Mariah doesn't know it, but Luke has already headed down the slippery slope. His confrontation with Rosalie Carbone at her place shows him acting far more violently than he ever has, breaking fingers to make a point about the lockbox he's putting around Harlem. He's made the rest of the gangs kowtow to him. He's hired Sugar as his heavy.
When Mariah passes away, folks start coming into the barbershop to pay their respects to the new King of Harlem, even before the club becomes his. It's so disturbing DW throws Luke out. The barbershop is neutral territory. And Luke is now no better than a gang leader, a Trump or a Corleone. He is no longer a neutral good guy. This can no longer be his home.
It speaks to the power of the direction of Francis Ford Coppola and the final scene in the classic film The Godfather than the end of Luke Cage gives such shivers. Even if you don't know the reference, the sight of Misty, dressed to the nines, trying to peer through the closing door at Luke, as Sugar whispers in his ear, is a powerful one. Luke has moved beyond her reach. He's on the other side of the door now from the good guys.
While Luke might not know he's fallen, the message of "Tell Claire to go home" when Tilda walks in dressed to kill speaks volumes. Luke Cage is no longer a boy scout.
How will the situation right itself? What will wake Luke up from this person he's become? Hopefully, Netflix greenlights Luke Cage Season 3 and soon.