Strong premiere episodes are one thing, but a good second episode says a lot about the fate of the season. Straighten It Out was one of the more artistic and effective episodes so far out of any Marvel Netflix project. Director Steph Green navigated through a lot of dense storytelling in 52 minutes, but rolled it out so smoothly that it never felt overwhelming.
The episode starts off on another fun note with Claire suggesting they test the limits of Luke’s strength since now even a Judas bullet can’t hurt him. This gives Luke a chance to flex his muscles in front of New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles and ex-SportsCenter hosts Michael Smith and Jemele Hill. It ends with Luke getting a Nike endorsement offer and Bushmaster further getting irked upon hearing Cage is faster than Usain Bolt. That was a nice touch.
Claire raises the question that’s undoubtedly going to get answered when she questions what’s worse than a Judas bullet. She gets answers on two fronts as the Rev comes to Pops to have another tense conversation with Luke. Neither side is ready to make amends. As she hears Luke trace everything wrong in his life from Reva and Pop’s death to Diamondback’s origin to his father, Claire says those harsh feelings are another Judas bullet he has to tear out. That was deep in a non corny way. I dug it. I also liked the reference to the dead Matt Murdock and the other Defenders. They’ve all met now so talking about them makes sense.
Luke discovers a new vulnerability in his first confrontation with Cockroach. Understanding Harlem has a bulletproof hero, Cockroach has a weapon capable of some impressive concussive force enough to send Luke out a window and dislocate his shoulder.
Misty finds getting back to work challenging. Beyond her fellow officers treating her like a punchline or visibly uncomfortable, her old academy rival Det. Nandi Tyler (Antonique Smith) has arrived and isn’t interested in burying the hatchet. Nandi got off a nice line about Misty returning is like Jordan playing for the Wizards, but Misty countered it’s still Jordan. I’m down for all this sniping if we continue to get dialogue of that quality.
Mariah also has problems. Despite pulling strings to get him bailed out, Arturo threatened to snitch, but it was talking about Mariah that led to Shades killing him. But now Arturo’s money is off the table. Mariah still doesn’t want to deal with Cockroach, but Shades has already worked out a deal with Nigel’s new partner. Shades doesn’t know that’s Bushmaster who has his own vendetta with Mariah. I like Shades’ boy Comanche (Thomas Q. Jones). He’s bringing another level of realness and humor. At least Mariah’s employee, Stephanie, has the investor wrapped around her finger.
To regain public support, Mariah’s campaign manager suggests she reunite with her estranged daughter, Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis). Initially, Tilda is apprehensive, but decides to give Mariah another chance. This won’t end well especially since Bushmaster already visits her holistic supplies business.
The episode winds down with a terrific sequence centered around Gary Clark Jr. performing at Mariah’s club. Interspersed through this scene Claire visits Rev’s church as he shares a well timed story about two wolves. Meanwhile, Luke beats down Cockroach for striking his baby momma and son. But while his intentions were good, Luke looks over at the mother and son and realizes he’s become a bigger monster than Cockroach ever was to them.
Straighten It Out didn’t miss a beat of the momentum from the season premiere and quickly began raising the stakes for Luke and his allies.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: David Lee/Netflix