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Luke Cage Dies Hard (With a Vengeance) In "Now You're Mine"

Sweet Christmas!

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, episode 8, episode 9 and episode 10. And needless to say, spoilers for Marvel's Luke Cage past this point!

After a sub-par, table-setting episode that moved the plot forward significantly at the expense of the focus the show has displayed so far, Luke Cage is back on track with "Now You're Mine." Picking up right where the last episode left off, the hour is a tense, frequently funny, but also surprisingly revealing look at the difference between Luke (Mike Colter) and his half-brother/arch-enemy Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey).

Part of the appeal? I'm a sucker for siege movies like Die Hard, and while we don't see Luke crawling through the pipes or anything, he -- and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) -- use a fair amount of the geography of Harlem's Paradise to their advantage. After escaping the cliffhanger stand-off with Diamondback's thugs, Luke takes a bleeding Misty (Simone Missick) to a secret basement underneath the club. Meanwhile, cops surround the outside of the club, Diamondback frames the whole thing on Luke, and Shades (Theo Rossi) hits his breaking point.

The emotional focus of the episode, though, is the shared history between Luke and Diamondback, born Willis Stryker. We already learned Luke's side of things: that his father, a preacher, had an affair with his secretary, leading to Willis' birth. Two years later, Luke was born as a "miracle baby." But from there, we never learned what went wrong.

A lot, it turns out. Willis and Luke went for a joyride in a stolen car, with Willis taking the fall. He went to juvie, killed a kid there, and then went to proper jail. While in jail, his mother died of cancer. And in true villain fashion, he blames all of that on Luke. Luke's father, in Willis' version of history, ignored his mother after Luke was born, which killed her. Of course, that's a twisted version of events -- but it also makes Diamondback's unhinged vendetta that much more real.

Shades wants none of it. For about 10 minutes in the span of this series, he was in control of Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard), Harlem's Paradise, and all of Harlem. Then, Diamondback came in without a real plan -- basically a suicide mission, as he plainly explains to Shades towards the end of the episode -- and Shades can't contain his frustration. By episode's end, he's beaten up by Claire and Misty and taken into police custody. But ultimately, this fracture between the two criminals will have to be settled.

And Luke, despite his constant protests, steps up to be a hero. He won't leave Misty unattended until Claire manages to find them, and helps sew up Misty's arm. Once she does, though, he goes right into superhero mode, smashing through walls, knocking out thugs, and flipping ninjas in the air like they're nothing.

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

Then Diamondback presents Luke with a classic: the police are ready to storm Harlem's Paradise, armed to the teeth with Judas bullets -- weapons capable of piercing Luke's normally bulletproof skin -- and Diamondback is ready to drop Candice, the hostess who sold Luke out to the cops on Mariah's behalf a few episodes back, off the balcony.

Naturally, Luke catches and saves Candice, giving himself up to the police in the process (and letting Diamondback get away). And even though Misty protests that Luke is innocent of all the charges that have been levied against him in the series (only one of which he's actually guilty of), he's still taken into custody.

Like the best siege movies, though, everyone gets a good quip or two in, the characters get to bond (Misty and Claire's small spat over getting "coffee" with Luke, followed by their mutual fighting skills appreciation society is delightful), and by the end, the siege is over and the good guys have won.

... Except not really. Not yet. We still have two episodes to go, and Luke is in a very, very bad situation. Even a bulletproof man can only escape his past for so long.

Easter Eggs and References:

- Shades says, "Watchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" to Diamondback, a reference to Diff'rent Strokes, and such a solid joke that even Diamondback has to give him props. You probably picked up on this one, though.

- Again from last episode, more a portent of things to come, but the multiple discussions of how Misty almost lost her arm, or could lose her arm are all teasing that in the comics, she lost her right arm, only to have it replaced by a bionic arm, which is way cooler than a regular arm.

- This is definitely not an actual Easter Egg, but since he died this episode: politician Damon Boone's (Clark Jackson) first and last names are the two most popular characters played by Ian Somerhalder on The Vampire Diaries, and Lost respectively. Just mentioning.

- When Claire tricks some thugs into letting her go to Luke's hiding spot, one of them says, "Escort the night nurse here downstairs." In the comics, there is a character named Night Nurse, and originally Claire's character was going to be Night Nurse, starting with her first appearance in Daredevil. And then, when Marvel's movie division decided to use the character for the upcoming Doctor Strange, she was quickly changed to obscure Luke Cage character Claire Temple. So this is a very weird, specific in-joke.

- Blake Tower (Stephen Rider) first appeared on Daredevil Season 2, before showing up here as district attorney and liaison to the mayor's office. He's a frequent ally of Marvel's street level heroes like Luke Cage and Daredevil in the comics, as well.

- "Frank Castle shot the city to hell, imagine what he could do with one of these things," says Tower, in reference to the Judas bullets. Frank is played by Jon Bernthal, and he was also first introduced in Daredevil Season 2. Tower was very involved in the case to take down Castle, which led to his boss' death, and his own promotion to District Attorney.