This article contains spoilers for Marvel’s Luke Cage season 1, episode 10, ‘Take it Personal’.
The episode opens with an almost mad scientist routine of dropping a plugged-in heater to shock Luke Cage (Mike Colter) out of cardiac arrest. Then Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) convinces Dr. Noah Burnstein (Michael Kostroff) that they need to go hotter — all the way up to get the cells to weaken. Once they finally do, Claire is able to go in and remove the shrapnel.
Misty Knight (Simone Missick) is working her picture board, wanting to know who Willis “Diamondback” Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey) is. We cut to see him meeting with Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard). Diamondback shows Mariah his weapons with the alien bullets and talks about mass producing them in smaller rounds for machine guns. She wants time to sell the city on using the weapons, but he tells her she’s out of time and he’s going to up the ante. While talking he puts on a pair of what appear to be special gloves. Diamondback then goes to a park wearing a hoodie, a backpack, and the gloves — he punches an older cop and sends him flying. He then leaves yelling that he’s Luke Cage.
Misty works the case, and while the perpetrator looks like Luke, she just sees holes. But the fact that a cop is dead is going to cause problems on the street. Mariah goes off on Diamondback for killing a cop and how that is hurting the kids on the streets. Diamondback says he’s speeding things up by putting another body on Luke, and that Mariah needs to flip this and make it all about her and their plans.
The cops hit the street and start pushing folks around. One of them brings in the kid Luke saved in the barbershop and tries to force him to give up Luke. Misty tries working the face of the guy who killed the cop. They get a hit on facial recognition on Willis Stryker, then there is a commotion down the hall and we see that the one cop has started beating on the kid.
Luke talks to Burnstein, who sees him as the center of curing so many of man’s problems, from battlefield wounds to AIDS and cancer. He leaves Claire and Luke alone, and they look at the unlocked files. We see a few videos of Reva, and we see that she was shepherding Luke to the program the whole time. Burnstein returns and tells Luke he wasn’t supposed to see that. Burnstein tells him that Reva lied to everyone — it was her job. Luke loses it and destroys the barn and the computer. Claire takes the drive and they go, leaving Burnstein alive.
Back at the precinct, Lonnie’s mom and Maria arrive to tell Ridley that they’re releasing the photos of her beaten son to the press. Then Mariah gives a press conference blame both the NYPD and Luke for this. She says Luke caused it, and the NYPD is so scared to bring him down or do their job that they’re taking it out on a kid. Misty is going after Diamondback, and Luke and Claire are headed to Savannah to figure out why Diamondback hates Luke.
We cut back to Burnstein to see him rummaging through the debris, finding his hard drive, and then getting it to boot up and show he still has Reva’s files.
Misty goes to Domingo and asks about Diamondback and how the heads of all the crime families have gone missing. He just tells her to go to Harlem’s Paradise as it’s under new management.
Luke visits his father’s church and it’s abandoned. He gets a flashback from when he was a kid and sees his mother complaining that his father is never there for Carl and that there was some tension between his mother and his father’s secretary, Dana Stryker. The flashbacks put all the pieces together for Luke and he realizes that his father was having an affair with Dana, and her son Willis was his older brother. Diamondback hates Luke because his father hated everything about Willis, his illegitimate son. But their father didn’t show much love to Luke either. Claire asks where Father Lucas is, but Luke says it doesn’t matter. Diamondback is going after Luke, so it’s up to Luke to stop him.
Mariah has a rally at the club where she talks about the menace of super-powered people like Luke and Jessica Jones. She says that she doesn’t trust the police blindly, but their focus needs to be on bringing in Luke, not beating up kids in Harlem — and they need to arm the cops with weapons to stop the super-powered menaces. Diamondback watches on.
Luke gets back to the city and hears about the rally and decides to go. He and Claire get to the club at the same times as Misty. She goes up to confront Diamondback — she passes Candace and keeps going. Luke decides to follow, as she’ll need backup. Misty gets to the top and confronts Diamondback, who shoots her twice. Luke races in and takes the rest of the bullets, then grabs Misty and heads out. Two guys come up the stairs with automatic weapons and open fire. Luke takes those bullets then leaps down to the dance floor and behind the bar where he keeps Misty covered as Diamondback’s men shoot up the place. A cameraman spots Luke and recognizes him. Luke tells Misty that he’s got her, and we fade to black.
This episode was a lot shorter than the last and faster paced, jumping around a lot once Luke was saved. The fact that Reva was lying to Luke opens the door for him moving on with someone… like Claire. The fact Burnstein still has the files might come up later, like season 2 with Bushmaster maybe. Also, the fact that we don’t know where Luke’s father is might also come up in a later season.
Not sure I liked the flashback having all the information for Luke — I would rather have had him talk to someone and get the pieces filled in. Still, I like the way the relationship is growing between Luke and Claire. I also like seeing Mariah step up more and more as a villain. At this point it feels like they need one more episode to wrap everything up and put all the pieces in place… except there are three episodes left in the season.