Luke Cage Recap – 104 “Step in the Arena”

Thru flashbacks, Luke’s origin story is revealed.

Beware the Spoilers

All but pressing pause on the current day story, the fourth episode used Luke Cage’s time stuck underneath the rubble of his home with Connie to flashback to the events that shaped him to be the man he is, how he got his powers, and his previous relationship with Shades. While this origin story (changed a bit from the comics) does answer a few queries about the show’s hero, it leaves us with a whole new set of questions left unanswered.

Sent to Seagate prison in Georgia for a crime he didn’t commit, former police officer Luke Carl Lucas just wants to keep his head down, do his time, and get out. Seagate has a reputation for running experiments on the prisoners, something the staff denies is true. Eventually Carl is befriended by Squabbles (Craig mrMs Grant) and attends group meetings led by the prison psychiatrist, Reva. After sometime working to open him up, Reva and Carl develop feelings for one another. Determined he is innocent, Reva tries to get the truth from him. “I’m guilty of a lot of things that people will never know about,” he answers, but she gives him hope.

Image Courtesy of Netflix and Marvel Entertainment

Image Courtesy of Netflix and Marvel Entertainment

Eventually Carl’s friendships with Squabbles and Reva are used to blackmailed him into an underground fighting ring the guards have set up lead by Rackham (Chance Kelly). Carl makes a name for himself as he beats several inmates, tapping into his rage over his false imprisonment and treatment at the hands of the guards. Carl tries to hide his fighting from Reva, but he confesses everything to her when he decides he is going to bring the system down.

The guards discover Carl’s plans to rat them out by beating the truth out of Squabbles and killing him. Shades (an inmate working with the guards) and another prisoner beat Carl within an inch of his life. In the infirmary, Reva begs the prison physician, Dr. Burstein (Michael Kostroff) to put Carl thru an experimental treatment to heal him. Burstein is sure it will kill Carl, but does it anyways. Things go awry when Rackham finds him in the chamber and ups the power thinking it will kill the man who would try to bring him down. The resulting explosion kills Rackham and gives birth to Carl’s new found powers.

Image Courtesy of Netflix and Marvel Entertainment

Image Courtesy of Netflix and Marvel Entertainment

Escaping the rubble (in a great juxtaposition of Luke finding his way out of the rubble from the explosion in the last episode), Carl runs to Reva for answers and she promises to explain everything as she reveals the flash drive that will later get her killed.

One question I had (and I’m sure you did as well) is how come Carl/Luke recognized Shades from his time in prison, but Shades didn’t recognize him? Name change for one and that epic beard and hair Carl/Luke sported.

Knowing the events in the prison that lead to Carl Lucas to becoming Luke Cage is nice, but there are so many more questions. Why was Carl sent to prison in the first place? Reva gave Carl her word there was no experimentation going on, but later it is revealed she knew Burstein was using experimental treatments to heal prisoners. Did she know more? Reva said she wasn’t always a psychiatrist, what did she do before?

We already know the flash drive carried videos and information about several experimentations that were done across the globe (one of which lead to the creation of Killgrave from Jessica Jones). Is the information about what gave Luke his powers on there? Where is Dr. Burstein now? Will the series eventually cross over with Jessica Jones in flashback?

Image Courtesy of Netflix and Marvel Entertainment

Image Courtesy of Netflix and Marvel Entertainment


Only one song is featured in this episode and that is towards the end when Reva and Carl discuss what his new name should be in the flashbacks, and Luke revealing himself to the world in the present. “Feel Alive” by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (who are the music producers for the show) featuring Karolina and Loren Oden.

What did you think of “Step in the Arena”? Did you enjoy the Power Man Easter Egg? What questions do you have after Luke’s origin story was revealed? Let me know in the comments section below and please do not post spoilers for future episodes. Not everyone gets to binge. Come back tomorrow for “Just to get a Rep” and click here for all of the Luke Cage episode breakdowns.

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About Nerdling

The Nerdling has an unhealthy obsession with books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars. She finds hockey to be the best sport in the world (Go Dallas Stars!) and is working on her first novel, but mostly glowers at a blank screen. You can find her on Twitter @nerdlingstale on Facebook @NerdlingTales or Instagram @nerdling_tales

1 comment on “Luke Cage Recap – 104 “Step in the Arena”

  1. I freakin’ LOVED the Luke Cage Easter egg where he looked like old school Luke Cage. I thought that was AWESOME! Thanks so much for this recap. It’s been a couple weeks since I last watched episode 4, and I couldn’t remember what it was about. So thanks. I thought I remembered they {kind of} referenced how he got to be in prison. They didn’t give a full answer, but gave something away, didn’t they? Maybe I’m remembering wrong. So far, I’m loving Luke Cage!

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