Before I get started, I have to hone up to a mistake. In my review of DWYCK, I wrote how frustrated I was that Luke was gaining confidence for the umpteenth time after he found out that Reva knew more than she let on.
All of that occurs in this episode.
Apologies for the mix up. That’s what I get for binge watching. My criticisms stand, but I won’t repeat my thoughts here.
Now on to Take It Personal.
This was one of the weaker episodes of the show so far due to weird logic on the part of multiple characters. From Luke’s belief about being his brother’s keeper to the weird logic behind Mariah’s plan to arm the police, Take It Personal stumbled hard.
I loved Diamondback when he first appeared, but his character went from awesomely creepy to silly. He was the latter when he forced Mariah’s plan to arm the police forward, basically “selling the fear.”
However, his attempt to frame Luke Cage was laughably bad. I liked how they started the sequence as a “power glove” brandishing Diamondback crept up on that cop. However, the scene was ruined by unintentional humor. When Diamondback yelled “I’m Luke Cage!” to everyone I couldn’t help laughing. I almost expected a “I’m Luke Cage, mutha fucka!!!” Diamondback’s crazy approach severely backfired in that sequence.
And after surviving that cliffhanger from last episode (Surprise!) Luke confirmed that Diamondback was his brother. The flashback sequence was really well done, using camera movement and dialogue cues to switch between past and present. It was very similar to how Misty deconstructs a crime scene. But I have to say that making Diamondback yet another villain with father issues was a bit disappointing.
Luke’s reasoning for being his “brother’s keeper” made absolutely no sense. I re-watched the scene where he explains his responsibility to Claire a couple of times and it still felt convoluted. He went from blaming himself, then his father and back…it made my head hurt. Couldn’t Luke just stop Diamondback because he framed him? It was an awkward attempt to make it more personal.
And that wasn’t the only time faulty logic collapsed the narrative.
After Diamondback successfully framed Luke, the police went on a rampage in Harlem. This was another excellent use of real life tensions between the black community and the police. A detective even beat up Lonnie (Darius Kaleb), a young friend of Luke’s. The whole sequence was really well done and the show continued to impress me with their guts.
But how they used that real life tension was where they lost me. Mariah ran with the publicity of a young black man’s beating at the hands of a cop, firing up Harlem against the police. And how did she use this fire from the community?
“I don’t trust the cops…but let’s arm them with high tech weaponry!”
Today, if a leader of a community responded to police brutality by suggested it could be solved if the police were armed with bullets that explode on impact, that leader would be run out of town. This plan was so poorly executed, it completely ruined the show’s portrayal of the community. Why? Because in Luke Cage, the community actually bought Mariah’s weird reasoning.
Luke and Misty continued the bad logic by simply walking into Harlem’s Paradise. Chaos predicatably ensued and we ended with yet another cliffhanger. It felt like the episode wanted to end with a flashy action sequence to distract from how badly the story line was botched.
I appreciated Luke Cage’s attempt to bring in real life issues into a comic book show, but this time it failed because it used those real issues in an awkwardly executed story line. This late in the show, it was a little scary that it stumbled.
Score: 5.5 out of 10