Release date: September 30, 2016
The story: At some point after the events of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage is back in Harlem and working two jobs: one sweeping up at Pop’s Barber Shop and another washing dishes at Harlem’s Paradise, a club owned by mobster Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. When a couple of kids from the barbershop steal money from Cottonmouth, Cage finds himself stuck in the middle of a battle for Harlem’s soul—especially when an overzealous lackey working for Cottonmouth shoots up the barbershop. Of course, Cage is bulletproof, which comes in handy when he begins dismantling Cottonmouth’s operation piece by piece. This draws the ire of Stokes’ cousin, a Harlem politician named Mariah Dillard, who is using dirty money to clean up the streets. Meanwhile, an NYPD detective named Misty Knight is trying to take down Cottonmouth the legal way, putting her at odds with Cage’s vigilantism. As Cottonmouth loses his grip on Harlem, Mariah kills him in a fit of rage and takes over the criminal empire with the help of a cool heavy hitter named Shades. Things get worse for Cage, though, when his evil half-brother Willis “Diamondback” Stryker gets a supersuit and tries to murder him, but Cage—now a Harlem folk hero with the full support of an adoring public—pulls through. As the season ends, Misty fails to put Mariah away due to a key witness getting killed, and Cage is sent back to prison in Georgia for escaping in the accident that gave him his powers.
Noteworthy events: Once again, Claire Temple is the glue that holds everything together. Her mother owns a restaurant in Harlem, and she reconnects with Cage after saving his life in Jessica Jones. As he’s being sent back to prison, she tells him she knows a good lawyer who can help him out, and later she grabs a flyer promoting martial arts training that ties into Iron Fist, setting the stage for The Defenders to get together.