The 11 most important moments in Luke Cage season 2

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Marvel’s Luke Cage season 2 production still. Photo: David Lee/Netflix

Tilda’s revenge

The initial introduction of Mariah’s heretofore unseen daughter, Tilda, feels a little bit superfluous to the needs of the story. And that’s true for about half the season. Her connection to the Bushmaster plot feels overly convenient, as though it simply exists because she knows herbal medicine. And her initial interactions with Mariah tend to feel either falsely saccharine or pointless.

That all changes after Mariah tells her daughter about the truth of her birth, and it’s not pretty. Tilda is the product of rape and incest, born after Mariah was sexually assaulted by her uncle. And, for her part, Mariah’s never really gotten over it. She confesses — to her daughter’s face as she sobs — that she doesn’t love her and never really has. That when she looks at her, she sees her rapist. Not only is this scene just brutal to watch, it completely changes the relationship between the two women. And Mariah’s decision to commit mass murder only makes things rockier from there.

That Tilda ultimately decides to betray her mother isn’t that shocking. It’s how far she’s willing to go to bring her down. Not only does Tilda team up with Bushmaster, treating his wounds and nightshade-induced dementia, she helps him go after Mariah. She shows him secret tunnels into Harlem’s Paradise in the hopes he’ll kill her mother (and admitting she’s okay with some collateral damage in the process). When he fails, Tilda takes matters into her own hands, murdering Mariah in jail with the help of some poisoned lipstick. It’s an act that’s every bit as cold as anything her mother has done.

As the season ends, Tilda’s obsession with her own past seems to position her to rise in her mother’s place. Whether she will or not is a question for the next season to answer, but she has proven herself more than capable to rule Harlem.