Luke Cage is an awesome superhero. He's humble, he goes out of his way to protect people, he refuses to take money in exchange for his good deeds, and he never kills. In a time when awareness of police brutality against black people is growing, Luke Cage is a bulletproof beacon of hope and strength.
However, Luke Cage's Netflix series has a lot of glaring issues. There are some pretty obvious plot holes, most of which are probably the result of the writers trying to drag the series out into 13 episodes. Luke Cage is a show that we really want to love, but it's hard to get past all these egregious inconsistencies. Let's break them down one by one.
15 If Luke Cage has been on the run this whole time, how would it have been possible for him to own a bar?
At the beginning of the series, Luke Cage is working two jobs and getting paid under the table in cash. He's doing this so no one finds out his true identity and he doesn't get sent back to prison. But when we first met Luke in the Jessica Jones series, he wasn't working menial jobs under the table, he actually owned his own bar.
How did Luke go from renting or owning his own property and having a liquor license to being too afraid to even get paid on the books as a dishwasher? Even if the bar was in Reva's name initially, it would have had to be transferred to Luke's name after she died. Besides his wife's knowledge about the Seagate experiments, there is little continuity between the Luke Cage in Jessica Jones and the Luke Cage in his own series.
14 If Misty has a gift for observation, how did she not know Scarfe was dirty?
Misty is such a gifted detective that she was able to figure out what happened at the shoot-out in the very first episode just by looking at the crime scene. She was also able to figure out that one of her superiors was dirty just by the way he was talking to her. So how the hell did she not know that her own partner was working for Cottonmouth?
Scarfe even says at one point that he and Misty had the ability to track each other's locations. Wouldn't Misty have thought it suspicious that Scarfe was repeatedly going to Harlem's Paradise, and wherever else he met Cottonmouth, without her? It makes no sense that she didn't get the slightest whiff of anything fishy.
13 Why didn't Cottonmouth kill Scarfe when he had the chance?
After Cottonmouth shot Scarfe, he walked away, moped for a while, and then sent his thugs to kill Scarfe so he couldn't snitch. Wouldn't it have been a lot easier if Cottonmouth had just killed Scarfe right there? It wouldn't have taken much effort to finish him off; the man was lying on the ground bleeding.
Scarfe only stayed alive long enough to give us some hope that he could testify and put Cottonmouth in prison, but then he died from his injuries anyway. We could have skipped an entire episode if Cottonmouth had just killed Scarfe when he had the chance. The writers could have made the series a lot tighter if they had just given the characters common sense.
12 How did Cottonmouth get out of jail with all that evidence against him?
The one helpful thing that Scarfe does while he's still alive is tell Luke Cage where his notebook is. Even if Scarfe died before he could testify, why wasn't the notebook enough to at least put Cottonmouth on trial? The notebook contained the names of every cop on Cottonmouth's payroll. Couldn't those cops have been compelled to testify against Cottonmouth in exchange for reduced sentences on corruption charges?
The characters on this show keep saying, "The system is broken," to explain why the criminals keep going free. But in the real world, a broken American system means people of color being sent to prison with far less evidence against them than the evidence the NYPD had against Cottonmouth.
11 Why did Misty fall for the frame job on Luke Cage?
This is another inconsistency with Misty's apparent gift for observation. She's so keen that she's able to figure out there were two perpetrators in Cottonmouth's murder (correct), the killer was someone close to Cottonmouth (correct), and that Candace's statement was coerced (correct). But as soon as she gets a phone call that a bloody glove was found in Pop's Barber Shop, she suddenly believes that Luke Cage did the crime?
Even after Misty sees Diamondback take aim at Luke Cage's head with his Judas bullet, she's still convinced that Luke is the perp and not the vicitm—so convince that she puts Claire in a chokehold to try to get Luke's location out of her. Why is it so difficult for Misty to see that Luke is the good guy?
10 Why wasn't Pop's Barber Shop locked?
The frame job on Luke is only effective because Shades is able to just walk right into the barber shop and plant evidence without leaving any trace of having been there. You'd think that with all the money Luke took from Cottonmouth, Bobby Fisher would have been able to install a decent security system.
He should have. After Tome shot up the place to kill Chico, the need for an alarm system and a security camera should have been obvious. Security camera footage could have proven Luke Cage's innocence right away. Hell, even if Bobby had just locked the door, Shades would have been forced to break a window, which would have at least aroused suspicion among the police when they searched the shop.
9 Why is Luke Cage so scared of going back to prison?
Luke Cage backs off Cottonmouth when he threatens to reveal his true identity and send him back to prison. But it's literally impossible to hold Luke Cage in a prison. He's bulletproof, he snaps handcuffs like they're made of paper, and he takes down iron gates with just one kick. At the time Cottonmouth threatens to snitch, Diamondback hasn't yet shown up with the Judas bullet, so as far as Luke Cage knows, he's still impervious to all firepower.
If taking down Cottonmouth and saving Harlem were really important for Luke, he would have tested Cottonmouth's threat and tried to take him down anyway. Even if he failed and Cottonmouth did rat Luke out, Luke could have easily escaped when the Marshals tried to re-arrest him.
8 Why didn't Luke take Cottonmouth's offer as an opportunity to collect evidence against him?
If Luke was playing it smart, he would have agreed to Cottonmouth's deal and showed up to work for him in order to find some evidence that could put him in prison for good. Luke managed to get all of Cottonmouth's money and guns with at least 20 thugs firing at him. Imagine the evidence he could have gotten if Cottonmouth let his guard down when Luke was around.
Luke would have had nothing to lose by at least attempting this plan. Cottonmouth wouldn't have been able to kill Luke for refusing to follow orders, and if he did follow through on his threat and revealed Luke's true identity, Luke could have easily escaped without a scratch on him.
7 Why did everyone buy into Mariah's call to arm cops with bigger guns?
It makes sense that a show about a black superhero in Harlem would delve into the issue of police brutality. But the way they go about it is just bizarre.
One of the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement is to demilitarize the police, but when Mariah argues that the police need bigger and more powerful weapons to take down Luke Cage, everyone cheers. Even if the crowd believed that Luke Cage was actually the problem, why didn't anyone point out that these super weapons could (and probably would) also be used on ordinary black civilians? The people of Harlem surely wouldn't be so gullible, especially since Mariah was already embroiled in scandal and had proven herself untrustworthy.
6 How did Reva convince Luke to forgive her role in the Seagate experiments?
In the flashback scene where Luke and Reva set off on the run, Luke confronts Reva about lying to him about the Seagate experiments. Reva says, "I promise I'll explain everything," but we never hear what that explanation was. All we see are the video logs on Reva's flash drive which make Luke realize she was lying to him.
From Luke's reaction when Dr. Burnstein tells him the truth about what happened, we can guess Reva's explanation was something like, "The experiments were only done to save people who had serious injuries." But no one would have been seriously injured if that prison fight ring hadn't been going on. How could Reva have offered a good explanation for that?
5 How did Luke's half brother become Cottonmouth's boss?
Cottonmouth was born and raised in Harlem and his grandmother was Harlem's biggest crime boss. We don't know when Diamondback moved from Savannah, Georgia to New York City, but he probably followed Luke and Reva there, which means he would have only lived there for a few years by the time Luke Cage starts.
So how did an outsider who only moved to NYC relatively recently become the superior of the most powerful organized crime boss in Harlem, who'd lived there his entire life? The relationship between Cottonmouth and Diamondback remains vague for the entire season. It felt like the writers were trying to force two villains to be connected to each other, when the connection didn't really make sense at all. Not every villain has to be related to each other.
4 Why didn't Misty try sending the inspector a text message?
Misty didn't try very hard to tell the inspector what was actually happening during the hostage situation. She could have attempted to send a text message. Or she could have asked Claire for her phone when Claire finally showed up. Maybe the text wouldn't have worked, and maybe Claire wouldn't have had her phone, but it was at least worth a shot.
If Misty had been able to get through to the inspector, she could have told her that Diamondback was the one actually holding everyone hostage. Even if the inspector still wanted to arrest Luke, she would have at least been looking for Diamondback too, so he and Shades wouldn't have been able to just slip out the back door of the club unnoticed.
3 How did no one find the huge hole in the wall during that hostage situation?
First of all, why was Claire trying to get to the secret basement by going through the wall in the first place? Wouldn't it have been much easier to tell the thug she needed juice from the kitchen to treat Candace's low blood sugar, and go in through the discreet trap door? It's almost like she had to go in through the wall just so that we could have another scene where Luke punches through concrete.
Second of all, these must be the most inept thugs in the entire world if they were unable to find a missing hostage in that club. Even if they didn't know about the trap door in the kitchen, they should have at least gone down the hallway Claire went down in order to get to the staff lockers, where they would have seen a huge gaping hole in the wall.
2 Why did Luke risk his life to escape the police in episode 12 and then just turn himself over in episode 13?
Luke just can't decide whether he wants to run or face his problems. If he had the balls to come all the way back to New York City after he safely fled the state, why didn't he have the balls to answer the cops' questions after the hostage situation?
Knowing that all the cops were armed with Judas bullets and that Misty was on his side, the safest way for Luke to handle being arrested would have been to cooperate and wait for Misty to convince the inspector to release him. In fact, that's exactly what he did in the very next episode. Luke said he escaped because he'd rather die than go back to prison, but really the only reason he escaped was to look for Diamondback, who came to find him at the end of the episode anyway, so that was a huge waste of time.
1 Why does Misty let Mariah get away right after Luke told her not to?
Misty literally had one job—don't let Mariah get away. But she let her get away. She literally just stood around watching the fight while Mariah told the TV cameras that Luke Cage was actually Carl Lucas. If Misty had put Mariah in cuffs as soon as she got out of the barber shop, the media never would have reported Luke's true identity, and the marshals never would have showed up to re-arrest him.
The audience is supposed to see Misty as the force of good within the NYPD, but every step of the way, she proves herself to be a terrible detective. It seems like she will definitely still be an important character in the next season, but it remains to be seen whether she can redeen herself after all the awful mistakes she's made.