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Luke Cage: "DWYCK" Proves That Everyone Has a Breaking Point

They're alive, dammit

Alexander Zalben

Marvel and Netflix are launching their new original series Marvel's Luke Cage today, September 30, with 13 original episodes. The superhero series developed by Cheo Hodari Coker exists in the same Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Avengers movies, but is more closely tied to fellow Netflix Originals Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Because we're so excited about the show, we're going to recap each episode every hour as we go through and watch: you can check out our recap of the premiere, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, episode 5, episode 6,episode 7 and episode 8. And needless to say, spoilers for Marvel's Luke Cage past this point!

After the scorched earth approach of the past few episodes, "DYWCK" is all about healing. Granted, healing means different things to different people: for Misty (Simone Missick), it's about figuring out why she lost her nerve when attacked by Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey); for Mariah (Alfre Woodard), it's moving on from her cousin's death; and for Luke, it's literally healing from the dual bullet wounds piercing his unbreakable skin.

The question is, though, can wounds really heal? Or will they leave scars that last forever?

Let's start with Misty, because she underscores the theme of the episode by shouting, "You think you are gonna break me? Bring it," at a psychologist brought in to evaluate her efficacy and continued loyalty to the NYPD. Last episode, she lost it: Diamondback stole her gun, turned it on her, and she gave up. In response, Misty then flung Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) against a wall.

So, she's up for review, to put it lightly. The psychologist needles and prods, and finally gets two revelations out of her. The first is Misty's formative experience. After sipping lemonade and trashing the male cops on the force (the second Beyoncé reference in as many episodes), she reveals that her cousin was raped, murdered and disfigured when Misty was a kid, leading to her constant drive for justice.

"I don't just seek justice, I stalk it," Misty spits, while also confirming that the visions she's been seeing since she was first introduced are caused by her eidetic memory. She doesn't just recall everything. She feels it, she experiences it. And when Diamondback took her gun, she could almost see the future: her dead body, her funeral, and Diamondback smiling the entire time. That's what made her lose her nerve, the sense that after everything she's done she'd die, alone, in an alley without any power -- just like her cousin did years earlier.

Misty gets that emotional closure, and because of her admission gets to move forward ... sort of. The Chief tasks her with tracking down Luke, who was captured on camera attacking two cops. She's on a new path -- but really, it's still her old path. The question is, will she fall into old patterns, or create new ones?

Mariah is running into the same problem -- and by extension, so is Shades (Theo Rossi). That problem has a name though, and that name is Diamondback. See, Mariah wants to move past the death of Cottonmouth (Masershala Ali), by her own hand no less, by selling all of her cousin's criminal assets and getting out of the crime game. Shades, meanwhile, is living it up. He's finally moved from No. 2 to No. 1, running Harlem's Paradise and controlling Mariah's movements like a puppet master.

But by episode's end, they're both back where they started. Diamondback forces Shades back into his whisperer position (and chances are that'll come to a head sooner rather than later). After Mariah calls a meeting of the local crime bosses, Diamondback shows up and slaughters them in a variety of creative ways (my fave was shooting one guy through the throat and into another guy's head; that was pretty cool). She saves her own life by suggesting that the now viral video of Luke attacking the cops can spur on a legitimate business need for selling Judas bullets. But Diamondback rejects her pitch to get out of the crime business, and puts her in charge of the weapons deal instead.

Marvel's Luke Cage is the most important TV show of 2016

It makes sense that Diamondback would be an agent against change, because he's the biggest perpetrator of "lack of healing" on the show. Whatever Carl Lucas (now known as Luke Cage) did to him as a kid, he's never moved past it, and he's pulling everyone else down with his emotional weight.

... And then there's Luke, who is literally trying to heal, from being shot twice by Diamondback. He wakes up in a garbage truck downtown, stumbles into a laundry, and puts on a hoodie. If Misty drinking lemonade and bringing hot fire to the men who have wronged her wasn't on the nose enough, how about Luke being profiled by the police while wearing a hoodie, and then shot several times in the back?

Luke escapes and meets up with Claire, who takes him to the man who started everything, Dr. Noah Burstein (Michael Kostroff). They don't trust him completely, but they do share Reva's findings with him. And he comes up with a plan to heal Luke: dip him in a hot acid bath to soften his skin, then cut out the shrapnel from the Judas bullets. Or as Claire says, "I think he wants to deep fry you. Like a turkey."

For Misty, the healing process is all about moving on to the next case. For Mariah, the scars are still present every day due to her association with Shades and Diamondback. And for Luke, those wounds may never heal. Dipped into the acid bath twice, he goes into cardiac arrest and seemingly dies. Looks like Mariah's suggestion to Cottonmouth way back at the beginning of the series was a solid one.

How do you kill a bulletproof man? Drowning is a solid option.

Easter Eggs and References:

- The fight poster hanging in Colon's Gym plugs a fight between J. Riggins and G. Turiello. Gabe Turiello was the driver for the cast on set for Luke Cage (and presumably Riggins was part of the crew too, though I couldn't track down his name).

- So technically, if Luke's unbreakable skin was created by fusing his DNA with Abalone DNA ... he should be called Aquaman, right? Can he talk to fish?

- After Luke was attacked by Diamondback in the comics (way back in 1972's Luke Cage: Hero for Hire), he went to Dr. Burstein, who was assisted by Claire Temple. Just like on the show (though without the acid bath).

- Diamondback kills one of the thugs with a switchblade, which was his weapon of choice in the books.