At Gwen’s Cafe, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) is in the process of coming to terms with the feeling that he should have left Mariah in her house to burn. Or he should have ended it at Harlem’s Paradise when he talked to her with Danny. Misty (Simone Missick) tries to calm him down, but they’re both on edge, emotional and angry. Behind the counter they find a set of bloody footprints leading to the back door. There is at least one survivor of what the media soon start calling The Rum Punch Massacre.
Meanwhile Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis) is tending to Bushmaster(Mustafa Shakir), with Bushmaster’s right hand man, Sheldon (Kevin Mambo) overlooking her work. She can only do so much with the warehouse grown Nightshade they’ve been making. In order to fully heal him she needs the real deal.
We get a flashback to Kingston, Jamaica in the mid 80s, to a beautiful resort where young Bushmaster is still John, and is carrying towels and working while Mariah and the stokes children play. He accidentally overhears an argument between his mother (Shannon Harris) and Mama Mabel (LaTanya Richardson Jackson), who are there with lawyers to determine who owns what between the McIver family and the Stokes family. All that John’s mother is asking for is that everything from the estate get split fifty-fifty, just like the men had agreed on before they turned on each other. Mariah appears over his shoulder and orders him to get her something to drink before she tells someone that he was eves dropping. It’s clear that her penchant for being in charge is not a recent development in her life.
Back in the present, Alex (John Clarence Stewart) is showing Mariah (Alfre Woodard) and Shades(Theo Rossi) the bunker that’s been being built, courtesy of Atrius Plastics, for her. Mariah is impressed, but Shades is far less convinced that this will keep her safe after what she did at the cafe, which Misty is already in the process of putting together.
The one thing Misty can’t figure out, is who used a very distinctive revolver to execute Anansi (Sahr Ngaujah). She thinks it might be Mariah, but she can’t say it definitively. When they checked the bodies against the list of family members, they couldn’t find Ingrid (Heather Simms), Anansi’s wife. She is the survivor they’re looking for. After barking up all of the other family trees in Harlem, Luke comes to the same conclusion that Misty has. It has to be Mariah who ordered the deaths of Bushmaster’s family. With a surveillance tape of Ingrid stumbling out of Gwen’s after the slaughter, Luke knows who he is looking for, and who he has to protect her from.
In Mariah’s office she tells Shades that Ingrid survived, and orders him to find her and kill her. Besides disagreeing with her on killing Ingrid, Shades is there to find out why Mariah ordered the massacre at Gwen’s at all. She defends herself and tries to turn his anger and frustration at her back on him. She tells him she sees the fear and lack of confidence in his eyes, but that just for a while she needs him to put away Hernan, and act as Shades.
Back at the station, Misty is fixated on the gun that killed Anasi being a .38 revolver, instead of a 9 millimeter semiautomatic, which everyone else was killed with. Candace Miller was killed with a .38 revolver, and there’s just something too familiar about this to not set off red flags. When Bailey (Justin Swain) checks on ballistics, they show that it was the same gun used to kill Candace.
Back in Kingston, in Bushmaster’s past, he’s given a free vaccination. John was the only one of the kids who didn’t die from it. After the argument that he overheard between Mabel and his mother, John’s house is attacked with Molotov cocktails made from Bushmaster rum bottles. His mother sends him out a window, but doesn’t escape herself. As he watches his family burn, Mabel comes to see her handy work. Tilda hears this story from Sheldon, something she’s never heard about her own family, something that shakes the already rocky foundation she had for remaining at all connected to her mother.
In a small local clinic, Luke finds Ingrid, scared and hiding. She understandably doesn’t believe that he’s there to protect her, but he convinces her to leave with him, to try to get lost in the West Indian parade that’s going on. She leaves with him, but when he turns around she’s gone. In a back room Shades has a gun to her head. When she sees him she remembers him from the night before and begins to beg for mercy.
We see shades begin to flash back to killing Comanche, to get shaky, to suddenly not be able to pull the trigger. Ingrid continues to beg for Mercy. He holds up the gun several times and tries to follow through, but he can’t. He leaves her, scared, begging and crying, but alive, and disappears in to the crowded streets.
When Luke finds her, Ingrid makes it clear that she doesn’t want to testify, and doesn’t want to go up against Mariah. She just wants to see her husband’s body and to take him home. She doesn’t want police, she doesn’t want to deal with Harlem, and she knows the killing won’t stop until Mariah is taken down, which she thinks Luke can do.
After the fire at his house, John McIver was working at a fruit stand to make a living, when Pete Stokes (Curtiss Cook) walks up and shoots him in the stomach as retribution for the death of Buggy Stokes. A young Anansi is immediately at John’s side and takes him to a woman in the woods who heals him with Nightshade. She repeats what Sheldon has been telling Tilda, that Nightshade doesn’t give, Nightshade reveals. The process of being saved by Nightshade is painful, but just as before in Kingston, Bushmaster is revived again in front of Tilda.
The police have connected the gun that killed Anansi to an unsolved murder that is a few decades old. Misty, of course, digs it up and finds the name of the victim: Peter Stokes. When she brings the file to the Deputy Commissioner (Karen Pittman) though, she tells Misty that with Scarfe’s name on it the DA won’t touch it. She has to get Ingrid to testify. But even Luke is standing in her way on this one. Ingrid just wants to take Anansi’s body back to Jamaica and be done with everything, and Luke isn’t going to force her to relive the hell she’s been through to take Mariah down.
When Bushmaster comes to, he asks Tilda what the cost has been, what the toll on his body was for using the Nightshade to heal himself. She tells him the news isn’t good, but he brushes it off. Sheldon delivers the news that Anansi is dead, barely able to speak. Together, Bushmaster, Tilda and Sheldon return to Gwen’s. Bushmaster knows the attack was for him, not for his family. He lets Tilda go with a simple thank you. In the wake of seeing the destruction that her mother has brought, all she can do is say thank you, and leave.
Shades returns to Mariah’s office to find her suspiciously close to Alex. After dismissing him from the room, he tells Mariah about the rules of the street, the ones that she’s broken. When she asks him if he killed Ingrid, he tells her he’s done, he’s at his end. He told her to use Anansi as leverage, but instead she killed innocent people. She tries to say that she’s just finishing what Bushmaster started, but Shades calls her out on having lost her humanity. When Anansi burned in front of her, she never blinked, not once. She tries to seduce him, to say that he has seen her for who she is this whole time, that he made her, but he pulls her off of him and goes to the door.
When he tries to leave, she decides to push the one button she has left. She pushes Comanche at him, that he hasn’t been the same since Comanche’s death, then reveals that she knew that they had been lovers. Hear her say that she wished she had shot Comanche herself so that he could die slowly while Shades watched is Shades’ last straw. He fights with her and tries to strangle her, then suddenly stops. He looks down at her, lying on her desk, gasping for air and decides that she’s not worth the effort. He simply leaves her, and when he does, he goes straight to Misty at the police station. He holds out his hands and tells her that he is there to help her take down Mariah.
On his walk home, Luke is stopped by Sugar (Sean Ringgold). He tells Luke that he’s not working for Mariah. Luke tells him to just call the cops and turn himself in, but that’s not enough. Harlem’s lost its direction, it needs someone. But Sugar thinks it’s past needing a sheriff. Now it needs a king.