We open the first episode of Luke Cage season 2 on a figure in a sweatshirt holding a slip of paper with the words “Luke Cage” printed on it. The figure moves towards a warehouse, inside of which is a cocaine production line. Inside, the heavily armed drug dealers scramble when one of them comes in speaking quickly and Luke Cage (Mike Colter), enters. After a moment of standing with guns pointed at him, the henchmen say that they have to at least have tried, and unload in to him. He makes quick work of all of them, except for one who he tells “tell any fool dumb enough to put my name on a package that I’m comin’”. He leaves the warehouse to find a young kid hawking his drugs which are apparently named “Luke Cage”, because that won’t draw a superhero’s attention to your illegal activities at all.
We transition to a reverend (Reg E. Cathey) practicing his speech in the mirror as he prepares for his congregation. He talks of all the things that Luke is to everyone in the community, saying that you have to be your own hero, be the force of change that you want to become. One man can’t do it himself, no matter how strong, and Luke is nothing but a man. We also see Luke walking through the street adored, taking pictures with kids, fighting, and walking the streets at night, and Misty Knight (Simone Missick) preparing herself for her day.
Once our Reverend has finished his rehearsal, we jump to Bobby (Ron Cephas Jones) and D.W. (Jeremiah Kraft) At Pop’s, where D.W. Is boxing up merchandise. They’re going to have to move, since rent doubled after Diamondback wrecked the shop. Bobby and DW talk about the issues that Luke’s fame has brought. An overeager tourist comes running in, looking to find Luke. They patiently push him out the door, and bemoan the existence of the Harlem’s Hero App, where people can tag any sightings of Luke.
When Luke comes in, Bobby gives him a slip of paper and says “he came back too.” D.W. Tries to talk to Luke about sponsorship, or monetizing his heroics in any way to help pay the rent because “just because you a woke superhero doesn’t mean you gotta be a broke super hero.” but Luke isn’t interested, and wants some time to himself to breathe.
We cut to physical therapy with Misty and Claire (Rosario Dawson). Misty misses the ball that she is supposed to catch, but swears she isn’t off balance, she just missed. Claire tries to express appreciation for Misty’s sacrifice. Misty tells her that it’s just the job. It’s her risk. If Claire wants to appreciate her, she should hold on to what she has, and make sure that Luke stays alive.
Later at Pop’s, Luke and Misty talk about his efforts to take out the drug lords, and that they keep popping back up “like punching water”. He says that the cops aren’t working fast enough, and asks her to be his partner. Misty unequivocally says that she’s done.
At Ginny’s Supper Club, Mariah (Alfre Woodard) and Shades (Theo Rossi) are being pitched by an investor trying to get their money invested in to plastics, but they would have to do so by getting Mark Higgins to sell his company. The waiter asks Shades if he and his aunt are celebrating anything special. Mariah takes it as a chance to mess with the waiter, cuddling up to Shades and sucking on his finger, but Shades is obviously far more ruffled than she is. Later that night we see the waiter who called Mariah Shades’ aunt beaten by Shades and Comanche (Thomas Q. Jones) in a back hallway.
The same night, Claire and Luke are having dinner outside at a restaurant, and talk about Luke telling the drug dealing kid “what’s my name”. He says that its about controlling his name, and she says it sounds like a brand. Claire says that part of the problem is that nobody knows if he’s a cop, a superhero or a vigilante. A father and son come up and ask for a photo, which Claire gladly takes. Luke says that everyone loves him when it’s going well, but that it’ll turn. Claire tells him to slow down and enjoy it while he can.
Luke pays a visit to Sugar who says he’s a bodyguard and a driver, now that he’s a father, and that Mariah is done and is going clean. Luke says that he thinks that Sugar is lying about something, but he leaves. On his walk home, Luke meets the reverend we saw earlier, who wants to talk. Luke asks him why he didn’t visit, reply to letters, why the warden had to tell him about his mother’s death. The Reverend is bitter and angry, and calls Luke “Carl”. When Luke corrects him, the reverend says “Your name is the one I gave you.”, at which point we see that the reverend is Luke’s estranged father. They part angrily.
We go to see Mariah evaluating a young woman, asking her to turn so that Mariah can see her, for a hostess position at Ginny’s. She tells the girl, whose name is Stephanie, but Mariah insists on calling Billie, that there is something that everyone who comes to paradise has in common, she tells her to pay attention to that, and use it, and that she will start tomorrow.
On a boat we meet a man with a heavy accent, asking where Harlem is, and he’s told that it’s across the bridge. He cryptically says it’ll have to wait, and that first they take Brooklyn.
Back at Pop’s, D.W. Comes back from a funeral of a 15 year old girl who overdosed. He says he knows that Luke is trying, but cold he step it up? Then he asks Luke if he has checked Washington heights, and points him to Arturo Gomez. D.W. Shows Bobby and Luke a picture, and Bobby recognizes him as a Arturo Gomez III, who changed his name to Arturo Rey and runs Merlin’s furniture store. He says that Arturo was probably a Yardie.
At the Harlem night club Mariah watches Billie on her first night flirting with Mark Higgins, before asking Shades to brief her on the potential buyers who have come to the club. Arturo Rey III, who smuggles drugs through his couches, Nigel Garrison who runs a gang called the Yardies. She asks about a third player, and Shades tells her that it is Dontrell “Cockroach” Hamilton (Dorian Missick). Scarfe tainted his conviction so he had to be released, and now he runs an off book casino with has high profile clientele. Shades tries to convince her not to sell the business, suggesting that she sell the Basquiat painting, but she refuses.
In Mariah’s office, Cockroach, Arturo Rey and Nigel Garrison all pitch their business plans. Nigel and Arturo both promise her that they can bring peace to Brooklyn, each in their own way. Cockroach takes a different tack and tells her that all he wants from the business is a “controlling interest” so that they can work together to keep Harlem black, and keep making Mariah money. Luke arrives, and after easily disabling Comanche, is met by Arturo, Nigel, Cockroach, Shades and Mariah herself. She tells him that she likes Claire, and points her out in the crowd. Mariah makes a very thinly veiled threat on Claire’s safety.
Luke leaves immediately with Claire. As they walk, they have an argument about her involvement. Claire found him using the Harlem’s Hero app, and thinks that his celebrity distracts everyone and gives him a false sense of security. He tells her that it’s not her place, that the risk is for Misty and himself to take. She tells him she’s worried that somebody will find a way to hurt him. The next morning, Sugar calls him and let’s him know that Arturo has a shipment coming to the river.
Misty is walking home from the grocery store and runs in to Cockroach and asks who got him out. He informs her that Scarfe got him out, and thanks her for illegally arresting him.
At Mariah’s house, Shades tries to convince her to go with Cockroach’s offer so that they can make more money than going with Arturo III. She makes it clear that what she wants is peace for Harlem, over money, and they agree to give the bid to Arturo.
Later that night, we see Luke approaching a Merlin Furniture truck, opening the back and climbing in. Arturo steps out of a car, pulls out a device and presses a button, setting off a bomb inside of the truck that Luke just closed the door to. Arturo looks pleased, until he sees Luke walking through the flames towards him, majorly pissed off. Arturo pulls out a gun and shoots Luke once in the stomach. The round explodes moments after hitting its target. Luke is only slightly slowed down. He gets up, walks over to Arturo and knocks him out. DW shows up with a camera, obviously having just recorded the entire thing. Frustrated, Luke looks in to the camera and issues a challenge to anyone that wants to come up against him, stating that “I am Harlem”.
At the police station, Misty reunites with the captain, and says that she doesn’t want her purple heart, she wants to come back to her job. He thinks that he’s not ready. She tells him she ran in to Cockroach and asks how many people got out because of Scarfe. The captain says that over 30 were released and she vows to put them all back behind bars. Luke walks in with Arturo over his shoulder, and the pieces of the Judas bullet he shot Luke with. The captain tells Luke that he can’t keep doing what he’s doing and Luke tells him that the police need to step up and make him believe again.
At the same time, Nigel is brought in to see the man that we saw earlier on the boat. Nigel calls him Johnny, but the man corrects him and says his name is Bushmaster (Mustafa Shakir). Nigel tells Bushmaster that if he wants to take over Harlem, he’ll have to take out Luke Cage, the bullet proof man. They exchange insults, which ends in Bushmaster killing Nigel, and Nigel’s body guards opening first on Bushmaster. The bullets hit their mark, but when Bushmaster stands up, we can see that the bullets stopped in his skin.