In the immediate aftermath of the Harlem Paradise incident, Luke is being shackled and readied for transport but Misty manages to relay a message to him without the other officers noticing. By this time all of the officers in Luke’s detail have been armed with Judas bullets and as they transport him to prison, Luke makes his escape from the back of the van. The police give chase, firing at him with Judas bullets and he is cornered by the older black officer that was driving his detail. However, he learns that the officer believes in him and lets Luke get away.
The following day, Diamondback watches news of Luke’s escape of television from his hideout. He, Zip, and Turk (the Daredevil character who helped Tote in episodes past) discuss their next moves and make a plan to deal with loose ends, including Shades who has been locked up. Zip is eager to prove himself and become Diamondbacks new right hand man, but an ominous aside from Turk leaves him shaken. Elsewhere, Domingo and his men formulate their own plan to take out Diamondback and control the gun trade.
As Shades is processed, Misty and Ridley talk. They both know there is more going on but with Luke now in the wind they are forced to focus on finding him yet again. They notice how calm Shades is during this process and Misty wants to take a crack at interrogating him, just to see if she can get any information on Diamondback out of him. The other officers are on the move, looking for Luke, and Misty and Ridley are short on time. Meanwhile, Mariah assess the damage at Harlem’s Paradise and laments all the destruction that has befallen Ma Mabel’s legacy. She is obviously pissed at Diamondback but keeps her composure. But her outlook changes after her assistant, Alex, gives her some needed words of encouragement, telling her that “things can be rebuilt” and that when they do they can be rebuilt as her legacy, but they must first, like Diamondback, cut out any loose threads.
While hiding from police, Luke notices a robbery taking place and (somewhat reluctantly) stops it. In by far the most entertaining segments in the series thus far, Luke disables the bumbling would-be robbers (already star struck by the presence of Method Man) by effortlessly slapping them on the head. He uses one of the robbers phones to call Claire and set up a meeting. After exchanging pleasantries with Method Man himself, the two exchange jackets (as his is riddles with bullet holes) and he leaves to meet with Claire. Back at the precinct, Misty gets a call from Candice offering her cooperation. She refuses to go to the precinct to meet her, fearing Mariah Dillard but Misty agrees to meet her somewhere else. As this is going on, Ridley questions Shades about his connection to Diamondback but Shades refuses to answer any questions. Though he acts smug in front of Ridley, the face he makes as she leaves hints at his unease about his future with Diamondback.
At their meeting, Candice tells Misty the truth about what happened at Harlem’s Paradise the night Cottonmouth died. She reveals that she overheard Shades talking to Mariah about the cover-up and that she was the one killed Cottonmouth. Despite her fears, Candice agrees to testify in exchange for protection from Mariah, who she fears even more than she did Cottonmouth. Upon learning this, Misty immediately takes action to protect Candice. She confiscates her phone and tells her not to contact anyone. She then takes her to Claire’s mother’s home for safekeeping and gives her a burner phone. However, unbeknownst to them, Alex watches them from a parked car across the street.
Following a radio broadcast and rap of “Bulletproof Love” by Method Man, the residents of Harlem begin wearing hoodies riddled with fake bullet holes in a sign of solidarity with Luke. The police look for signs of Luke back at Pop’s Barbershop but find no one except Bobby Fish. When they leave, Luke comes out of hiding from within the shop and talks over his options with Bobby, who helps facilitate a plan using Turk as a pawn. Meanwhile, at the precinct, Shades is released on bail, but Shades is far from thrilled. He is received by Zip and his new men who take Shades to an abandoned warehouse where they attempt to kill him. Shades however manages to steal one of the men’s guns and turns the tables. He takes Zip to the roof and, after confirming that Diamondback himself was the one who set up the hit, shoots Zip in the head.
Back at Mariah’s home, she gets word of Candice’s whereabouts from her Alex, who attempted to follow them but lost sight of them somewhere along the way, but Mariah doesn’t seem bothered by this at all. Everything seems to be going her way until Diamondback shows up unexpectedly. The two negotiate and agree to leave each other alone once his business in Harlem is done. He also gives her money towards fixing the club before he leaves.
That night, Luke corners Turk in an alley and forces him to tell him where Diamondback’s hideout is. At the same time, Domingo’s men roll up on Diamondback’s hideout to kill off Diamondback. In the scuffle, Diamondback manages to retreat into a back room where he don’s a new weapon. Before we can see what the new suit will do we go back to Mariah. She is still at her home, obviously deep in thought and drinking heavily. She is startled when Shades appears and offers her a gift, as a sign of good faith. It is the last remaining piece of evidence tying her to Cottonmouth’s death; his trump card. They agree to work together to enlist Luke’s help in getting rid of the pain in both their sides: Diamondback. Meanwhile, Luke arrives at Diamondback’s hideout and sees the aftermath of Domingo’s attack. Everyone in the building is dead, beaten to death.The only person left clinging to life is Domingo, who tells his that all this carnage was Diamondback’s doing. He manages to get Domingo out of the building just before a bomb goes off, blowing the hideout sky high but Domingo succumbs to his wounds shortly after. Luke calls Misty afterwards to keep her updated on everything that has been going on.
Later, Mariah and Shades stake out Pop’s Barbershop, waiting for Luke to arrive. As they wait, they have an interesting conversation about Cottonmouth. Shades reveals that the reason he was at the club the night she killed him was because he was planning to kill Cottonmouth himself. Mariah, then reveals a stunning secret of her own: Cottonmouth never needed her money or influence, he just wanted her in. Cottonmouth, she explains, saw things in her that she denied. But she is now becoming that person and the look on her face as she says this, shows that she likes it. Ready, they enter the shop and offer Luke a truce. Despite his objection, they offer him something he can’t resist; evidence that he was framed. She also offers to tell the police that Diamondback killed Cottonmouth and Boone but Misty appears to arrest Mariah leading to a standoff. That’s when a smoke grenade is thrown in to the shop and Diamondback makes his grand entrance, clad in a bulletproof power suit.
As Misty takes off after Mariah and Shades, Luke readies himself for a final confrontation with Diamondback.
I liked this episode. I actually liked it a lot. The issues with the series that I have mentioned in my previous reviews still stand, yet this episode was chuck full of interesting plot threads that held my attention and forced me to care about what was happening on the screen.
For starters, I loved Shades this episode. Despite being arrested and having his butt handed to him by 1 1/2 ladies last episodes (Misty was pretty messed up) he was full of confidence, at least as far as he was willing to show the police. The fact that he knew that his position with Diamondback was precarious just goes to show that he has a lot more on the ball than Diamondback does. I still love Cottonmouth but Shades has quickly risen in the ranks the last few episodes. He and Mariah make a deliciously cunning pair (far more deserving of the snake imagery than some other folks in this show). Although they are vastly different in background and age, they suit each other. Not only that, they depend on each other. Mariah was at a loss for what to do about Diamondback and could only hope that he would do as he promised and leave Harlem after his business was finished. That is, until Shades came back and showed her a better, more proactive approach. Yet Shades didn’t approach Luke on his own with his information. He needed Mariah and turned to her when he had no one else to go to. I can’t say I understand Shades motives exactly, but that’s what makes him intriguing.
Another thing this episode did well was it’s use of cameos; Turk and Method Man. Now Turk is a Daredevil character that first appeared in Luke Cage’s second episode “Code of the Streets”. He reprises his role to assist Diamondback, and as such, becomes acquainted with his hideout. Luke then uses this to his advantage and is able to get Diamondback’s location out of him. Method Man’s presence was mainly used for star power and his segment on the radio show is used as a tool to 1.) Re-establish a positive relationship between Luke and the community after the mayhem at Harlem’s Paradise and 2.) provide an original song for the show to use in a montage sequence. Both scream blaxploitation and though cheesy and a bit preachy, still fit the style of the show and the genre.
In all, it was a solid episode although I am concerned. With the season ending next episode, it looks like the finale is just going to be a fist fight between Luke and Diamondback, which seems a bit anti-climactic so I hope they have something else in store.