Mild Spoilers ahead
The episode starts in the past with young Carl Lucas, Luke Cage, training for boxing match. The person coaching him is Willis Stryker, Diamondback. Then it flips to the fight that began at the end of the last episode. Luke and Diamondback fighting it out in the Barber shop. The suit from Hammer tech that Diamondback wears allows him to stand toe-to-toe in this fist fight with Luke. The suit itself does look to be a version of the character’s comic book appearance.
As the fight rages and changes locations there is a back and forth between the current fight and the past. As it goes on a crowd has formed to watch, for some film, the fight’s action. The civilians cheer for Luke. While cops stand by armed with Judas 2.0 bullets. It was coaching advice of Willis in the past that allowed for Luke to get the upper hand in the fight against Diamondback. It ends in an anti-climactic style with how abruptly it ended and soon within the start of the episode. Comparing to the lead up this fight and the fight itself, it doesn’t hold the same fun and tension in the action. Tying it to the past was a nice touch. And the public nature of fight with the crowd made it more of a message than an epic battle.
The rest of the episode fizzles out almost. Not to say it is devoid of good moments, but in terms of the action and combat it was over. What remains is tying up the loose ends. Like Misty trying to get Mariah charged for her crimes and Mariah trying to spin her way out of it. Misty has all the answers now and is confident. But just knowing the truth doesn’t mean it can always be proven.
Luke also needs to tell his side of the story of the crimes that have been put on him. His impassioned speech repeats some of the sentiments of pride in history and values of Harlem. It also goes into why he felt the need to pick up the mantel and fight. That being in part to the official channels being unable and corrupted while people suffered and died. And this was done very well and I enjoyed the reaction of those around him who heard his words. I got chills during it, but is just one moment within the slow end that stands out.
The charges the NYPD have are cleared. However, the file that proves his innocence for the crimes he went to Seagate for was lost during the fight with Diamondback. So those are crimes he still needs to answer for, he will not running from them like before. Lucky for him that Claire knows a good lawyer.
As a finale, it does well to wrap up story lines. It shows the each of characters in the final few minutes of the episode: Mariah, Shades, Misty, Diamondback, Bobby, Claire and Luke. Still with some gaps or rather new developments in their lives that leaves things open as to where the characters will go from where they are left in this finale.
Which leads me into a larger critique I have with the finale. Being that this is a Marvel Netflix series and how like the films, that are also loosely connected to these series, there is an extend universe that crosses over between all of the shows. Luke Cage was first a part of Jessica Jones season 1. It was that series that gave viewers their first introduction of him into this shared universe, and a spring board for leading to the events of this series. Similarly, to how Daredevil Season 2 was viewers introduction to the Punisher.
The Luke Cage finale lacks the connection for deepening and expanding the extended universe. It doesn’t boost my interest in The Defender series or Iron Fist series, two of the upcoming Marvel Netflix series. I wish it had done something clear for those shows due to them being coming much sooner than another season of Luke Cage.