The great Luke Cage binge is upon us. Head here to see my reactions to each episode. Keep reading for my thoughts on “DWYCK,” episode 9 of Luke Cage‘s first season.
Which One Is “DWYCK”?: The one where Diamondback and Mariah became partners, and Luke was deep fried like a turkey and temporarily died…again. Plus, it’s the one with the police scene which will undoubtedly inspire countless thinkpieces.
The 5 Things That Mattered Most to Me:
1. Play Misty for me
Why did Misty lose her cool with Claire? Why is she obsessed with Luke Cage? How exactly is she coping with the crazy turns her life as taken? Why is she even still in Harlem, and what made her want to be a cop in the first place?
All of that came out during Misty’s psych eval in “DWYCK,” as well as her likely justified accusation that the police force wouldn’t be treating her this way if she was a guy. This was clearly Simone Missick’s Emmy performance, mostly playing a two-person play in one room for nearly an hour, righteously affirming her hunt for justice one minute, quietly describing the sad story of her dead cousin the next, all the while fighting back her now regrettable memories of screwing Luke and newly traumatic memories of Diamondback pointing a gun at her head. The show has had to toe a perilous line with Misty,
The show has had to toe a perilous line with Misty, keeping her suspicious of Luke but not in such a way that she comes off as weak or stupid or as a glorified plot device (i.e., the thing repeatedly standing between Luke and justice). “DWYCK” was the show’s attempt to help us completely understand her, inviting us along for her psych eval-forced soul searching, and Missick delivered her finest performance of the season thus far.
2. The police incident
Luke is found guilty of walking while black, and questioned by cops, one white, one black, each of whom offer no explanation for their requests and treat him rather harshly. One the cops realize who they’re actually dealing it quickly escalates into a police shooting, which is when the show make some curious choices. It is the black cop, not the white one who opens fire on Luke. Of course, the white one probably would have as well, but Luke knocked him out and then shielded him from any of his partner’s potentially friendly fire. Part of this incident is viewed through the cop’s dashboard camera.
Too soon? Too soon from what because it seems as if black people are being killed by cops on a weekly basis, and just as soon as you hear about one town rioting in response to a suspicious shooting incident the same exact pattern repeats itself somewhere else in the country. Coker and his writers had no way of knowing this was the world into which Luke Cage would be born, and while they purposefully picked certain imagery to speak to current conditions, specifically Luke’s defiantly wearing hoodies, they couldn’t have predicted how raw the emotions would still be when it comes to depictions of police shootings.
Or maybe they should have. I don’t know. This particular scene is a real political landmine, and I don’t quite know how to feel about it just yet. I appreciate the iconography of a black man standing up to cops and having the bullets bounce off of him, but I’ve never been more aware of Luke Cage‘s status as a fantasy TV show as I was while watching this scene. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Speaking of which…
3. A whole lot of hand holding going on
Luke is dying and in immense pain as shrapnel slowly works its way deeper into his internal organs. Claire is a nurse, and kind of his friend. It’s only natural for her to hold his hand throughout this to help him through the pain. However, episode director Tom Shankland repeatedly depicted this hand holding in close-up, presumably to further emphasize the intimacy of the act and make double sure we’re hip to the deepening bond between Claire and Luke.
Which is really just my fancy way of saying, “Are these two going to fuck or what?”
I kid. Kind of. I am one of those people who assumed due to genre conventions that Black Widow and Captain America were love interests for one another in Winter Soldier, not simply good friends. I was wrong, and film and television has entered a new age where not every boy-girl pairing has to inevitably turn romantic. Luke and Claire are likely more compelling as friends, not lovers, especially since at this point Luke doesn’t appear to have any other friends. However, there’s something wrong with me, some part of me which has been ruined by a childhood diet of 90s sitcoms and insipid rom-coms, because my honest instant reaction to all of the close-ups in this episode is to assume Luke and Claire might become more than friends.
4. Mariah, you devil
How you going to sit there and watch four people suddenly murdered in front of you and not even flinch? She was always a better criminial than her cousin, and even as she continues to insist she wants out of the life she somehow keeps moving up the ladder, partnered with Diamondback now due to her genius idea to create the disease (Luke Cage as a menace) and sell the disease (the Judas bullets).
5. When are we going to get the Hero for Hire part?
Don’t get me wrong. I am digging this show, but I’m starting to wish it wasn’t quite so serialized. My favorite sequence in the entire season thus far is Luke stomped around town taking back people’s stolen goods and slapping around thugs. Relatedly, one of the more purely inspiring storylines was how he retrieved that girls’ stolen ring and stopped her from making a potentially life-ending decision (even if she’d gotten a shot off at Cotton and survived she likely would have ended up in jail for years). However, ever since then it’s been one continuous story stretched out over multiple episodes, beginning with Cotton shooting a cop and progressing to a mortally wounded Luke seeking help from his own Dr. Frankenstein.
Couldn’t there have been one episode just with Luke trying to make Claire and Pop proud and acting like a hero to Harlem, one not solely motivated by revenge or hounded by personal demons? Perhaps a more episode-of-the-week adventure with him working a case while Cotton engineered his ultimately successful legal defense from behind bars? This is Luke Cage, not The Equalizer, so I guess not. However, it feels like a missed opportunity.
On to the next episode: “Take It Personal”
Or you can use these direct links to my other reviews: