The 11 most important moments in Luke Cage season 2

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Marvel’s Luke Cage season 2 production still. Photo: Cara Howe/Netflix

Theo Rossi is season 2’s other standout

Alfre Woodard’s ferocious, terrifying performance as Mariah is a joy to behold, and probably the thing most folks will remember about season 2. It’s understandable. She has a lot of incredible scenes to play and gets the bulk of the season’s moments.

However, there’s another unsung hero of Luke Cage season 2, and that’s Theo Rossi. The former Sons of Anarchy star makes Hernan “Shades” Alvarez into something much more than a mere henchman. From his surprisingly genuine feelings for Mariah to his past with Comanche, Shades seems to carry around a lot of emotional layers. And unlike some of the other gangsters and criminals who pop up this season, he seems to truly believe in a “code” of the underworld. Which doesn’t, apparently, include burning one’s enemies alive. (Sorry, Mariah.) As a result, his inner conflicts feel like genuine problems, because he could — at any point — go either way.

Over the course of the season, Shades experiences triumphs and setbacks. He’s Mariah’s right hand, but he’s also forced to commit some seriously disturbing crimes, including shooting his best friend and helping his girlfriend kill a restaurant full of innocents. It’s no wonder he pretty much breaks down afterward, turning Mariah over to the police and wearing a wire to entrap her.

Shades does some awful things, so much so that he probably shouldn’t be a terribly sympathetic character. Yet Rossi’s nuanced performance does a lot to really humanize him. So much so that you almost hope he doesn’t spend season 3 in jail. He might just deserve a shot at redemption.

Plus, Rossi wears the heck out of a suit. I’m not made of stone here, y’all.