This article contains spoilers for Marvel’s Luke Cage season 1, episode 12, ‘Soliloquy of Chaos’.
This episode starts with Luke Cage (Mike Colter) being put into shackles and Misty Knight (Simone Missick) approaching him. Because they’re surrounded by cops, she talks to him like a suspect but tells him that Willis “Diamondback” Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey) got away and that no one is looking for him. She tells him that all of the guards have the Judas bullets and that he shouldn’t do anything until he gets to the precinct. She then tells ESU to take his ass to jail.
They put him in the back with no guards. He breaks the shackles and busts out at the first chance, then runs while the cops give chase. An older cop gets the drop on him, but he used to get his hair cut at Pop’s and thinks Luke is a hero. He lets him go and tells him more people are behind him than he thinks.
Diamondback is set up in a warehouse liquidating his assets, and he contacts Turk Barrett (Rob Morgan) to set up some sales. Zip (Jaiden Kaine) tells him that the files he wanted from his place are gone. Diamondback chokes Zip back into his place and Turk calls Zip Diamondback’s bitch — the two have a past.
Domingo Colon (Jacob Vargas) is being pushed by his men to hit Diamondback and take over all the drug and gun trade in the city. He decides to do it.
Misty talks with Inspector Ridley (Karen Pittman), who agrees that they need to go after Diamondback — but Luke has to be brought in and that his actions are saying he’s guilty. She tells Misty to go home and she’s going to interview Hernan “Shades” Alvarez (Theo Rossi). Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) is looking at the mess made at Harlem’s Paradise and is angry at Diamondback for leaving her family’s legacy in tatters.
As Luke is trying to avoid the cops, he sees two guys going in to rob a bodega. He walks in, takes out the two guys, and realizes one of the customers is Method Man. He takes one of the guy’s phones and makes a call, then he swaps hoodies with Method Man, bends the guns, and tells the store owner to call the cops. The owner tells him that folks would pay him for stuff like this.
Candace (Deborah Ayorinde) calls Misty to meet. Ridley gets nowhere interviewing Shades, who actually plays with her a bit. Misty meets Candace, who tells her that Mariah killed Cottonmouth and everything that happened after while Misty records it on her phone. Candace says it was Shades’s idea to frame Luke and that he paid her $50,000 to tell the story. She’s coming forward because Luke saved her life, and she will testify if Misty can guarantee her safety. Mariah scared Candace more than Cottonmouth ever did. Misty takes Candace to Claire’s mom to hide her. Mariah’s assistant has been watching them the whole time.
Method Man goes on a radio program and tells the story of how Luke stopped the robbery and how the two guys were nervous and anything could have happened. He sees Luke as a hero, not as a cop killer, and the Luke is one of “ours”. He does a live rap about Luke and the bodega owner starts selling hoodies with bullet holes, which really makes it harder for the cops to find Luke. We get a montage of the people of Harlem getting behind their hero.
Luke goes back to the barbershop, arriving just after the cops leave. He talks with Bobby Fish (Ron Cephas Jones) about a possible plan. They need a pawn to find Diamondback, so Bobby calls Turk.
Shades gets sprung and on his way out, Misty comments that he thinks it’s funny — has it all figured out. In a surprising moment of honesty, Shades says, “No. No, I don’t.” He is then taken to a building by Zip and two goons and take a ride in the slowest elevator ever. Zip tries to strangle Shades, but Shades gets a gun off of one of the goons, shoots them both, and then gets the drop on Zip. They go to the roof, where Shades finds out that it was Diamondback that told Zip to kill him for asking too many questions and stepping out of his place. Shades kills Zip and then takes his sunglasses.
Diamondback goes to see Mariah, to find out if she’s still loyal. He tells her that Shades is dead and gives her a bag of cash to rebuild the club and grow her power back in exchange for loyalty. He tells her that he’ll be around long enough to finish off his brother and then he’ll go, but she’ll still feel his presence occasionally.
Turk is walking along the street, heading for Pop’s when Luke grabs him and wants to know where Diamondback is. When he won’t talk, he tosses Turk into a dumpster, closes the lid, and starts crushing the dumpster. Turk gives him the address and Luke leaves him in the dumpster for trash pickup the next day.
Domingo and his crew arrive at Diamondback’s warehouse. He tells Diamondback that Shades killed Zip and his boys. Diamondback only has two guys left. Everyone opens fire. As people are shooting and dying, Diamondback escapes to a back room where he has a special crate that he kneels before and quotes the bible as he looks inside maniacally.
Shades goes to visit Mariah and gives her the bottle she used to hit Cottonmouth, showing he doesn’t need to blackmail her — they’re in it together. She suggests sending Luke after Diamondback. Shades is the one that stole Diamondback’s files and has the evidence to clear Luke of his original crime. They plan to use that to get Luke to fight for them against Diamondback.
Luke gets to the warehouse and finds everyone dead but Domingo. Diamondback is gone, but he left a big bomb behind. Luke gets Domingo out before it explodes and asks him what Diamondback used to beat them. Domingo says it was something he’d never seen before and that even Luke can’t stop him. Then Domingo dies. Luke calls Misty to meet him. He catches up with her, finds out that Shades is out, and tells her to talk to Turk, who is in the dumpster.
Mariah and Shades are talking. He admits that he was headed to the club that night to kill Cottonmouth. She says Cottonmouth didn’t need her political money — just wanted her “in” all the way. Cottonmouth saw things in Mariah that she denied were there, but now she’s becoming that person.
They go into the barbershop to meet with Luke to parlay. They offer him the evidence to clear his name if they work together. Misty comes in and tries to arrest Mariah, guns are drawn, words are thrown around, then Luke sees a grenade drop by the door and covers everyone. Then Diamondback drops in wearing his power suit and is ready to fight. Luke tells Misty to go after Mariah and Shades while he takes care of Diamondback. They charge at each other and fade to black.
There are some plot holes that bug me about this episode. How does Domingo know where Diamondback is set up? How do Shades and Mariah find Luke at the end? How did Misty trail him back when he did a pretty good job to keep her from doing it? And how did Mariah know to check with Leslie about Candace? There are a lot of convenient things going on. And the idea that Diamondback would run from the fight then stop and quote scripture may be “in character”, but it’s just a really bad idea.
On the other hand, the Method Man side story seemed superfluous at first, but fun… but once he was on the radio show and the people of Harlem got behind Luke you realize just how important that scene really is. And I thought the honest moment between Shades and Misty was really good. One of those strong character moments as we see that for the first time, Shades wasn’t in control.