Luke is nowhere to be seen at the opening of episode twelve, as a party that DW (Jeremiah Craft) is attending gets violent. A new drug, Bushmaster is making people violent, cannibalistic even. DW’s girlfriend who was hosting the party says she’s never seen drugs like this The kids who brought it were from Harlem, and even though DW thinks that Bushmaster is behind it, Luke (Mike Colter) reminds him that there was a Luke Cage drug going around the streets once too. Sugar (Sean Ringgold) was able to confirm that Mariah (Alfre Woodard) is in bed with the Chinese cocaine dealers, which confirms that the name isn’t from Bushmaster, but designed to tarnish Bushmaster’s (Mustafa Shakir) name.

At a silent auction, Mariah meets with the heads of all of the major crime families. At least half of them are at best unimpressed at worst annoyed at her plea to join forces together. She wants an open exchange, using her legitimacy and access to industries like real estate to clean the money that they’ll make and share. She tells them that she is willing to open the wall around Harlem. She presses them to bid on the item she is putting up for auction, and makes it clear that those who don’t won’t have access to run their businesses through Harlem. Grudgingly, all the members of the families bid. But they know that they are likely being watched, and they’re right. Bushmaster watches all of the families leave, taking note of each one.

 

Shades (Theo Rossi) is sound asleep in the interrogation room, and Inspector Ridley (Karen Pittman) doesn’t believe that he’s actually turning himself in. She thinks instead that it’s a power play so that he can take over. Misty (Simone Missick) is sold though. Misty points out that if they can prosecute Mariah, they can get Candace Miller, and Ridenhour’s deaths solved, and get justice for their friends.

Down at the docks, Bushmaster is following the leader of the Chinese gangs to his warehouse. He goes to address the use of the Bushmaster name on his drugs, calling it poison. Just as the guns are pulled out, Luke Cage shows up to help. But this time, he’s defending Bushmaster. When they get out of the crossfire, Luke makes it clear that if Bushmaster kills anyone, then he’s alone. Bushmaster agrees  and they move forward, clearing the way through the warehouse, even if Luke does have to stop bushmaster from utilizing the sharp end of an axe more than once. They agree that Mariah is behind it, but as soon as Bushmaster attempts to use another one bomb like the one that he smuggled in to the police van, Luke goes right back to fighting him. Luke covers the bomb, but Bushmaster gets away.

Luke heads straight to Harlem’s Paradise to see Mariah. He lets her know that the warehouse was shut down, and that he knows she’s the one behind the Bushmaster drug. He admits it’s smart, that it worked when Arturo Rey put his name on a drug too. He makes it clear he saved her twice, but won’t do it again. She doesn’t believe him, and practically laughs in his face. He’s the only man she’s ever been able to count on, her and Harlem. He considers everything he says. Then declares himself off duty.

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All the paperwork is in place for Shades’ immunity, but only if he tells the truth, and tells everything. If he leaves anything out or lies about anything, he can be charged with everything he admits to. He starts by explaining what happened to Luke at Seagate, how Shades and Comanche beat him to the point that he should have died, but that he came out bullet proof instead. His smile the entire time is somewhere between glee and mania. As he’s giving testimony about the shooting of Pop’s Barber Shop, his lawyer realizes that her son was saved by Luke that night at the shop. Shades giggles his way through the story, and makes sure that his paperwork is still legal without her present as she decides she must recuse herself. Then he continues as if nothing had changed.

Luke hears about the Unity Jam at Harlem’s Paradise, a free concert that Mariah is throwing. DW wants to go, but Luke calls the concert what it is: protection for Mariah. There’s too much collateral damage for him to let her and Bushmaster go at each other. He’ll be forced to show up and protect harlem, and Mariah by default.

Meanwhile, Bushmaster receives a surprise visitor. Tilda(Gabrielle Dennis) tells him that she went to see her mother, and that not only did Mariah give the order to kill his family, but she lit the match that burned Anansi alive. Tilda asks him point blank to kill Mariah. She’ll get him inside, and she offers him a super shot of nightshade. Sheldon (Kevin Mambo) tries to talk him out of it, it’s not worth the risk, but Bushmaster barely pays attention. He says that it is worth it for everyone.

Shades is still testifying at the police station. He’s telling them everything in detail, about Mariah killing Cottonmouth before Shades could, about Candace taking money to say that Luke did it, even how he got DNA evidence to frame Luke. He admits to using Misty’s phone to lure Candace to meet him, then shooting her with Mariah’s gun. He keeps the laugh going until Misty tells him the same gun was used to kill Anansi and he has to describe Mariah lighting him on fire, then shooting him. The facade breaks and Misty takes his request for water as a chance to get out of the room. When she comes back she asks about Ridenhour. He tries to brush it off as Comanche shooting him but she presses him to explain in detail. He tries but he can’t get the facade back up. They need Mariah’s gun from him, or his deal is null.

Shades, Luke, Bushmaster, Misty, Tilda and Mariah all head to Harlem’s Paradise. When shades arrives, he goes to talk to Mariah, to play the makeup game, to “apologzie”. When Luke arrives, he looks for Bushmaster but sees nothing, except Mariah on her balcony with Shades. When Bushmaster arrives, he meets with Tilda first, who shows him in to the hidden tunnels under Harlem’s paradise and makes him promise that nobody but her mother gets hurt.

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Once she’s had time to talk with Shades on the balcony, Mariah has him follow her down to the bunker that she was building in the previous episode, where she pulls her pearl handled thirty-eight caliber gun on Shades. She finds the wire he’s wearing, but before she can do anything else, Bushmaster arrives in the club after taking almost the entire dose of nightshade that Tilda gave him. Luke and Misty both try to slow him down, but he’s too strong for either of them.

When Bushmaster starts wearing his way through the bunker door shades begs her to give him the gun and get behind him. He knows that there’s only one shot at taking out Bushmaster. And that shot misses by a fraction of an inch and buries itself in the bunker wall, just as Luke and Misty come in. It’s Misty that barely stops Bushmaster from breaking Mariah’s neck and Luke who disables him. Mariah yells for Luke to kill him, and he almost doesn’t stop, until Misty stops him, and Bushmaster escapes.

In Mariah’s office, Shades hands Misty the pearl handled gun, and Mariah is put in handcuffs. Misty calls it a win, but Luke knows that this isn’t finished.

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