The great Luke Cage binge is upon us. Head here to see my reactions to each episode. Keep reading for my thoughts on “Manifest,” episode 7 of Luke Cage‘s first season.
Which One Is “Manifest”?: The one where we learned Cottonmouth’s back story just in time to see him die.
The 5 Things That Mattered the Most to Me:
1. About that whole Cotton imprisonment storyline
Yeah, my bad. I suppose the prior episode already heavily implied the cops wouldn’t be able to keep Cotton for long, and they weren’t kidding. He’s walking out a free man almost immediately in “Manifest,” with the explanation being the cops had no case against him beyond Misty’s word. Everyone else who could have ratted against him honored the code of the street instead. As such, everything I wrote in my last review about where this was going was totally wrong.
This is that moment in every vigilante story where the criminal justice system lets them down. Now Luke realizes how little use he has for the cops, prisons and lawyers. Still, this is an awfully quick reversal on what had been a fantastic ending in “Suckas Need Bodyguards.”
2. Shades is playing this like a Game of Thrones character
From the way Shades attempted to counsel Cottonmouth to his strategic move toward backing Mariah instead, there is some straight up Game of Thrones shit going down in Harlem. That’s not just me saying that. That comes straight from the actor (Theo Rossi) playing him, as he told RottenTomatoes:
“Cheo said Shades is the Littlefinger, for our Game of Thrones fans, of the world. Yes, observing to see what’s going on, you’ve just go to keep watching. That’s a good way to look at it. And there’s a reason behind everything. That’s the truth. Some of the greatest, most powerful people don’t even have to do things on their own. They watch people do it to themselves, and they advance from it. He’s an extremely cerebral character, like nothing I’ve ever played. I think that’s what’s so interesting. He is, for lack of a better word, he’s extremely shady. He’s very shady.”
If it helps, re-read those last couple of sentences and imagine Rossi doing an Austin Powers pause before saying the word “shady.” That way it seems more like he’s fully aware of the bad pun.
3. Mariah has some serious damn issues
Broken record here, but Mariah has been steadily stealing this show away from Cotton. Now, after losing dang near everything she fought so hard for she finally broke, with the flashbacks revealing she was molested by her uncle (at the very least, it was statutory rape). You could see her starting so slip last episode, but I had no idea she had that much anger waiting to bubble over. Stupidly, even after throwing Cotton out his own window in the club I expected her to calm down and rush to his aid. Instead, she zoomed in for the kill, which Shades is going to pin on Luke.
Turns out, that mad Stokes family temper has infected her too. She just has the common decency to try to fight it, but now that she’s been pushed into a corner she’s likely become far more dangerous than Cotton ever was.
That being said, Cotton had Luke right where he wanted him, with a solid blackmail attempt and hit ordered. It will be interesting to see what tactics Mariah takes, specifically how long she’ll get her frame job for Cotton’s death to stick.
4. Goodbye, Cotton, may you tickle the ivories wherever you ended up in the afterlife
The pilot hinted at Cotton’s talents on the piano, and it was not hard to predict a “I coulda been a contender” flashback was in the works. Still, did I anticipate Cotton’s more violent Don Draper-esque childhood growing up in a bordello with a mad-tempered madame? No, I did not. Did I know he killed his only real father figure at the order of his only real mother figure? Woulda been strange if I did.
Now that Cotton is gone I realize I have no real strong feelings about him one way or another. I neither welcome nor mourn his loss or fret over what his absence might mean for the show. It feels a bit like they ticked off the standard Marvel Netflix boxes for a villain, and once they reached the “flashbacks to make him seem more sympathetic” stage they killed him off almost immediately.
5. I guess Luke’s skin isn’t unbreakable after all
Claire has successfully replaced Pop as the little angel on Luke’s shoulder pleading with him to be a hero, but her efforts keep getting interrupted, be it a dying cop dropped into their lives or a surprise bullet successfully piercing Luke’s skin. It took special bullets harvested from alien technology, but the bad guys finally found something which can physically hurt Luke. They found his kryptonite, which made for a fantastic episode cliffhanger. It’s worth nothing that “Manifest” was the last episode sent out to critics for pre-air reviews meaning all those professional reviews out there were written from the standpoint of having no idea what happened after Luke got shot in the stomach at the end of this episode. I like to think many of those paid reviewers are happily binging Luke Cage this weekend, satisfying their curiosity to see what happened next.
On to the next episode: “Blowin’ Up the Spot”
Or you can use these direct links to my other reviews: