Luke Cage Recap: S1E4 “Step In The Arena”


Sweet Christmas it’s flashback time in episode 4 as we see the origin of Luke’s powers and his relationship with Reva.

It’s episode four and Luke and his landlord Connie (Jade Wu) have survived a rocket launcher attack. Connie has some questions, mostly how Luke is able to pick up and move the building rubble that has trapped them. And this episode explains the answer to just that question.

It’s more than just an experiment gone wrong that creates Luke Cage. It is the utter destruction of his spirit, the breakdown of his ability to trust, and at the same time his power to overcome his past and hope again that makes him into a hero. Luke has faced some horrible circumstances. It’s hard to see him at his lowest fighting in the prison fight club because he is so different from the Luke we know and love. At that point he has closed himself off, doing what he needs to do to survive and protect the few people he has come to care about. It is what makes Luke a hero before the experiment. He is willing to sacrifice his own humanity for the people in his life. He might say it’s hard to trust people, but it also his kind heart that makes it impossible for him to keep himself closed off for too long.

Image via Netflix

It is opening up his heart to Reva that allows Luke to hope again. Through broken and unwilling to trust the two slowly build a relationship. In a way, both are spending time in jail, Luke literally and Rena as the prion psychologist, as a way to atone for the regrets in their pasts. Luke may be innocent of the crime he was convicted for, but he still believes that he deserves to be there. And maybe everything does happen for a reason. If Luke wasn’t wrongfully convicted he would have never gotten his powers or met his future wife, both which are necessary for him to become a hero.

This episode also gives us a closer look at the villains this hero has to face. We know Shades and Luke were in Seagate at the same time and now we know why Luke is so wary around him. Every single thing that happens to Luke in prison is a result of Shades and his involvement with the guard Albert Rackham (Chance Kelly). Shades is another character who will do whatever is necessary to survive, but unlike Luke that doesn’t involve keeping to himself. Shades is willing to work every angle to save his own skin, even including murder.

Shades not only kills Luke’s only friend Squabbles (Craig Mums Grant), he also beats Luke nearly to death. Luke’s injuries are so severe that he ends up as part of Dr. Burstein’s (Michael Kostroff) experiment. Shades is the reason Carl Lucas becomes Luke Cage. And I hope it comes back to bite him.

Image via Netflix

The scene where Carl officially turns into Luke Cage and breaks out of Seagate is an amazing homage to the character’s comic book origin. From the utterance of “Sweet Christmas” to the tiara and the yellow shirt Cheo Hodari Coker and Charles Murray, who wrote the episode, are tipping their hats to Luke’s classic image and history as well as making fans very happy.  A few moments later though when Luke shaves and dons on his now iconic hoodie they are also letting us know they are putting a spin on this character that is all their own.

In this episode we also see the source of Luke’s name. He takes Luke from the Bible verse, Luke 4:18 and Cage from something his preacher father used to say. And the world is going to know that name now. Luke emerges from the rubble of Genghis Connie’s unscathed and reporters want to know who this mystery man is. Looks like our hero is officially out of the shadows.

Next: Luke Cage Recap: S1E3 “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?”

Stray Observations & Easter Eggs

  • “Slavery was always a good offer to a master.”
  • Luke is a Beyonce fan, obviously
  • Rackham call Reva “Doc Connors” which is also the name of another Marvel character, better known as the Lizard
  • Reva seems to know more about these Seagate experiments than she originally claimed, I hope we find out more about her involvement