Over the past month (or so) I’ve been playing catch-up with Netflix shows and shows set within the Arrowverse. These catch-up sessions have so far included The Rain (great), Dark (so-so), Lost in Space (fun), Supergirl Season 3 (really enjoyable), The Flash Season 4 (a joy) and Arrow Season 6 (hard work).

This week I’m back with Netflix, getting up-to-date with the newly released second season of Luke Cage. This is the season where Black Mariah becomes a formidable threat; where Luke comes face-to-face with Bushmaster; and where Danny Rand (aka the Immortal Iron Fist) pops by to say hello.

Unlike past catch-up sessions where I watch most of the show/season, then write my thoughts about it before I’ve concluded the current run, I’ve actually finished this season. I polished it off this morning, having worked my way through it at a reasonable pace over the past week.

I’m mentioning the time it’s taken me to watch Luke Cage Season Two because ordinarily I binge-watch Netflix/Marvel shows over the course of a day/weekend – but not this time around. Does this mean I didn’t like Luke Cage Season Two as much as other shows? Heck no – I really enjoyed it.

I took my time with this season of Luke Cage because I feel it moves at a slower pace. That’s not to say that there’s any real problem with this, but the pace does drop a little mid-season – you’ve been warned.

I know that there has been a lot of talk about whether the show (and other shows in general) would benefit from shorter seasons to combat pacing issues, but for me I think it’s fine remaining at 13 episodes. Regardless of dips I still found this another captivating jaunt onto the streets of Harlem and by season’s end I wanted more.

As with Season One, the whole vibe of Luke Cage is effortlessly cool, from the way the show is shot to the music that is featured throughout. Music is a key ingredient for creating the tone and there were so many times during the course of this season where I found myself being drawn into a scene thanks to the music.

Another key ingredient – and perhaps the most important ingredient of all this year – has been the villains, including newcomer, Bushmaster. The character proved to be an interesting inclusion this season, largely because his beef wasn’t with Luke Cage!

Bushmaster

Image: ©Netflix

Bushmaster was introduced as a credible, physical threat and one who could stand toe-to-toe with Luke, yet ultimately his course of destruction was aimed in a different direction. Of course, when he and Luke did cross paths it proved to be a great showdown, but Bushmaster’s journey ultimately lay elsewhere.

The true villain of the season was Black Mariah – a character who was being built up as the core villain from Season One onward. For me, Black Mariah stands up there with the best of Marvel’s villains, easily sitting alongside the likes of Daredevil‘s Wilson Fisk, Jessica Jones’ Kilgrave and Black Panther‘s Killmonger.

The beauty of a 13-episode season such as this is that we’ve been able to see Black Mariah’s rise and fall, with room to fill in a few gaps regarding her past and her personal life. Actress Alfre Woodard seized the role of Black Mariah and commanded the screen during every appearance – of which there were many.

This season of Luke Cage really was all about the villains and for me, that’s one of the real strengths of these Netflix/Marvel shows, the ability to give so much time to the bad guys and gals. These characters usually get the short end of the stick in movies, so it’s great to see things play out differently on TV.

Alfre Woodard

Image: Netflix

So, let’s talk highlights: The two stand-out episodes were The Main Ingredient (episode ten) which featured a guest appearance by Iron Fist, and They Reminisce Over You (episode 13), which demonstrated exactly why Black Mariah is so good at being bad.

It was also great to see Misty Knight wielding a bad-ass prosthetic arm; to have Cage kick a LOT of butt; and to hear the occasional nods to the MCU. Overall, great stuff indeed.

With the exception of pacing issues, I’ve got nothing bad to report about Luke Cage Season Two – it was easily a great season of TV. The season ended with an intriguing set-up for next year, which will no doubt see Cage questioning his role as a super hero and I look forward to watching that play out.

Luke Cage Season Two is currently available to stream on Netflix.