We start episode 8 of Season 2, ‘If it Ain’t Rough it Ain’t Right’, of Luke Cage with Shades (Theo Rossi) as he goes over the events of the night before, reliving Comanche’s (Thomas Q. Jones) last moments. Almost as off kilter, Mariah (Alfre Woodard), Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis) and Luke (Mike Colter) are sharing a waiting room at the police station, which neither Luke nor Mariah are happy about. Tilda is very firmly on the side of telling the police everything, but Mariah refuses. When they have the chance to talk alone, Mariah asks luke point blank why he saved her. He claims it’s to see why Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir) hates her so much. Mariah doesn’t give him anything to work with, but does finally ask that he make sure that Tilda is safe.
When Misty (Simone Missick) and the rest of the force return to the precinct, she is gunning for Mariah. Luke holds her back, but they take Mariah away to talk to. In the hallway Misty tells Luke that Ridenhour (Peter Jay Fernandez) was killed, and that she thinks Mariah was behind it, just like Candace. Luke is surprised, but Misty clocks that he’s supposed to protect Mariah and Tilda and scoffs at him for working for Mariah now. Before returning to work she tells him that he should have let Mariah burn.
Meanwhile Shades is breaking the news to Comanche’s mother about her son’s death. They reminisce for a while about how Shades and Comanche met as kids. Shades didn’t know any English, and Comanche had kept him from getting bullied and beat up. She tells Shades that he was a lot of things, but never a liar, and that she doesn’t believe that Comanche got caught up with a sideways cop. Her son was a soldier, not a snitch. Just as it looks like Shades is about to come clean, he receives a call from Sugar (Sean Ringgold). When he hangs up, he changes his tone. He gives her money, and says that Comanche would have wanted her taken care of. So he’s going to, whether she wants it or not, because they both know she needs it. He apologizes before he leaves, but he never says for what.
Back at the police station, Misty is walking through Ridenhour’s office like it’s a graveyard of its own, when she notices her gun and badge still sitting in his drawer. Nandi (Antonique Smith) comes in and for once, she’s not looking for a fight. Everyone had a bet going about how long it would take Misty to come back since she never filled out her paperwork. Nandi only gave her three days. Technically Misty is the highest ranked detective, so she is in charge, for now and Nandi even goes so far as to tell Misty that if she had been killed, she’d want Misty trying to find out who did it. It is one of the nicest things that Nandi has said to Misty yet.
They’ve identified Comanche, but Luke already recognized him from the night he and Claire went to Harlem’s Paradise. He is Luke’s best guess for the snitch, but Ridenhour didn’t take notes or leave any information. Misty asks for Luke’s help, especially with getting Tilda to admit that Bushmaster is linked to any of it. Tilda has already expressed fascination with Luke’s strength and bullet proof skin, but refused to answer any questions, since Mariah had told her not to. She even admitted to having lied when she met Luke about not knowing anything about his abilities.
Once Misty gets Mariah in to an interrogation room, Mariah tries to play everything off as a home invasion gone wrong, but Misty isn’t buying a word of it. Mariah tries to claim that there were two men wearing masks, but Tilda said there were three, and the cover is clearly not holding. Misty asks her to just say his name, to please give her something to work with. When Mariah asks for Ridenhour, Misty shows her pictures of his and Comanche’s bodies just before Ben Donovan (Danny Johnson) interrupts them with Shades. Misty concedes to letting Mariah leave, but informs Shades that his car was captured on traffic cameras near the scene of the crime and he is now a suspect.
Finally alone, Tilda and Luke talk about the fire, and she describes the way that the bullets hit Bushmaster, but they didn’t seem to do anything. She comes clean about what she gave Bushmaster, but doesn’t have an answer as to why he needed it.
During the revolving door of interrogations at the police station, Bushmaster is redecorating Harlem’s Paradise to his liking. Anansi (Sahr Ngaujah) tells him his mother would be proud of what he has, but not of how he got it. He’s worried about how much Bushmaster is relying on the nightshade, and tells him that it’s like a steroid: the body can only take so much. Bushmaster is focused on being able to take Mariah down entirely, and reason with Luke Cage afterwards, if he can. As long as she is alive, Mariah legally owns half of the club, and as long as she does, he isn’t finished.
Finally alone, Misty reconstructs both Ridenhour and Comanche’s deaths. There’s no way that Ridenhour shot Comanche once, let alone twice from two different positions. She goads Shades, asking about Comanche’s final words. When Donovan – now acting as Shade’s council – steps out of the room to take a call, Misty asks him if he’s tired of all of this, and he fires back with the same question. When Donovan reappears, he quickly informs them that he is no longer representing Shades, and leaves as quickly as humanly possible.
On his way out, Donovan runs in to an irate Mariah. He’s unshaken as he informs her that his loyalty was to her money, and nothing else. With Mariah’s money gone, his loyalty has dried up. At least Mariah still has Luke looking out for her. She decides to leave Shades lawyer-less in interrogation and take Tilda home. On their way out two Jamaican hit men pull up and attempt to take out Mariah, Mariah and Tilda get away, and Luke finds out from the slowest thug that Bushmaster has put out a bounty for Mariah, Tilda and anyone close to Luke. He asks Nandi to tell Misty, and leaves to check on his own family.
Misty is still busy with Shades in interrogation. She tries to pressure him for details, but instead of a confession, she gets an even deeper look at how long Comanche and Shades were as friends, and how deep their relationship ran even before Seagate. Before he finally leaves she asks him to consider the fact that Ben Donovan was Mariah’s lawyer for 25 years, and him dropping Shades as a client was certainly done with Mariah’s say so.
Mariah and Sugar return to the brownstone, still in ruins, and Mariah begins to look for her gun once Sugar has left the room. Shades shows up soon after, stone faced. Mariah tries to blame all of this on Shades for having brought Comanche in to their lives, then accuses him of having been an informant as well. In return he accuses her of having fired Donovan and abandoning him. They continue to fight, but ultimately agree to move forward together, against Bushmaster.
Tilda has returned to Mother’s touch and is packing up a bag when Mariah shows up. She tells Tilda that she has lost everything, that her daughter is the only thing she has left. She’s even wearing borrowed clothes from Sugar’s wife. Tilda is tired of all of this, and realizes she should have left a long time ago. Mariah, in a rare moment of emotion, sits down and tells Tilda that Mama Mabel took her away as soon as she was born and sent her away to be raised with her cousins, the Johnsons. Finally, Tilda decides to show her what she’s been able to figure out about Bushmaster. If she can figure out how he’s using them, they might be able to understand him.
Back in Harlem, another conversation is centering around nightshade. In the middle of the dance floor in Harlem’s Paradise, Bushmaster has set himself up to perform another ritual, and is trying to get Anansi to commit to helping him finish everything that has been started. He also wants to start artificially growing Nightshade so that he will have enough to sustain himself. But Anansi finally puts his foot down and refuses. He loves Bushmaster, but love has limits. When Anansi leaves Harlem’s Paradise, he has Shades as a shadow.
Luke has returned to his father’s church to try to convince him to leave, to let Luke protect him, but his father is committed to his congregation. If Luke wants to protect him, he has to do it from the pews. Which is exactly what he has to do when, mid sermon, four shooters walk through the doors. Luke dispenses with them quickly, though one follows his father through the back doors. This isn’t anything to worry about though. When he catches up to the shooter, he has to stop his dad from continuing, who is righteously angry because even though Luke may be an adult, bullet proof man, “they can’t be shooting at my baby”, from continuing to beat the young shooter up.
Back at Mother’s Touch, Tilda is showing Mariah what she knows about Bushmaster’s herbs when Misty and Nandi come through the door with guns. Mariah tries to complain, but Misty shuts her down and tells her to get away from the windows, the Stylers are here. Several shooters come through the front and back of the shop, destroying it, but Misty manages to keep both of them safe. Luke shows up in time to stop the last of the shooters and get them out of the shop. Once they are in the street, Luke tells Misty to give Danny a call, it’s time to ask for a favor.