WARNING: FULL SPOILERS
Score one for the bad guys.
With the power vacuum resulting from Cottonmouth’s death, I was interested to see who would step up to be the next “big bad” of the Luke Cage. I got that with the reveal of Willis “Diamondback” Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey).
Diamondback might be Luke’s most dangerous enemy yet. Not only did the crazed preacher have the Judas bullets, he had a very personal connection to Luke’s past. So far, that past has been our hero’s biggest weakness. Bringing up anything from Luke’s past shuts him down. Whether or not Diamondback was actually Luke’s brother…it could just be a play.
Diamondback was a refreshing presence in the show. Like I said in my previous review, Cottonmouth had run his course. He had to be something different and he certainly was that. Diamondback was not only unpredictable, but also someone who revels in that unpredictability. That little permanent smirk on his face was perfect. Mariah and Cottonmouth hinted at something amiss beneath the surface…Diamondback makes a show of his psychosis. A comparison to Heath Ledger’s Joker might be apt since that villain simply wanted to watch the world burn. Will Harvey be as good? We shall see.
On the other end, Mariah’s plan to frame Luke for Cottonmouth’s murder was generally solid, except for one hilarious tactic: Why would Luke have used dish washing gloves? Was it because he washed dishes there? I know they needed to find a way to get Cottonmouth’s DNA on something of Luke’s, but it felt silly. It’s a nitpick, but I had to point it out.
Mariah’s “performance” was also fun to watch, especially when she sparred with Misty. But for me, the standout was Shades. It felt like getting the club and replacing Cottonmouth was always his plan…granted, that’s not a huge surprise. But that look of utter satisfaction on Shades’ face was a little cool. I haven’t spoken a lot about Theo Rossi in this role, but he has been an unsung hero of sorts. Rossi has a way of being both threatening and charming in equal ways. In a strange way, seeing him question Cottonmouth on his methods made Shades a little bit of an anti-hero.
In terms of action, the fight between Diamondback and Luke was probably the most brutal of any on the show. While I understood that Luke was wounded, it’s good to see someone who can pose a physical threat. There were multiple “Ohhhs!” and “Ahhhs!” while I was viewing it.
Finally, Misty losing it and attacking Claire felt weird. At first, I wasn’t very happy…it made her look a little weak. Especially since it was suggested that her encounter with Diamondback was behind her outburst. But as I thought about it more, it made sense. So much of Misty’s life was spiraling out of control. Even the best of us lose it. It was actually a humanizing moment that deepened Misty’s character. And it strengthened Diamondback as a villain. He was the only one to throw her off that badly.
With Luke in the back of the garbage truck, will we get fever dream flashbacks to Diamondback’s past?
Score: 9 out of 10
WARNING: FULL SPOILERS