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

The Rum Punch Massacre

If you were somehow still thinking that perhaps Mariah Dillard could be the sort of gray-tinged villain that made us question just how evil she actually was in the end? This is the moment that made us all acknowledge her as a lost cause. It’s also the most brutal sequence in Luke Cage’s entire second season. (Yes, even more than all the beheadings.)

As her war with Bushmaster escalates, Mariah comes to accept that collateral damage is not only okay, but necessary, possibly even desirable. (At least as far as she is concerned.) Instead of using McIver’s uncle, Anansi, as leverage against her enemy, Mariah burns him alive in his own restaurant, after murdering his entire family and a bunch of innocent bystanders in front of him.

Mariah, it turns out, has become a monster. This scene not only cements that fact, but reemphasizes what a dangerous and brutal place Harlem’s underworld is. This is also the moment that turns Mariah’s loyal boyfriend/second-in-command Shades against her. He basically runs straight from the smoldering restaurant to Misty Knight, and tells her Mariah’s finally gone too far. (Breaking the hearts of ShadyMariah fans everywhere. Or at least this one.)

Mariah’s definitive turn to the dark side is certainly gripping television. (Stomach turning, actually.) But it’s still kind of a shame that Luke Cage chooses to make her so irredeemably bad. Part of Mariah’s appeal is the constant battle between her two selves — the proper politician and the wannabe crime queen. Having her suddenly decide to burn a man alive pretty much ends that dichotomy. It also means that the only place left for her character to go is jail or a graveyard.