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Misty Knight Can Do Better Than Luke Cage
Stephanie Cangro is not a crackpot. She just thinks, after S01.E09 of Luke Cage, Misty needs an extended vacation and a move downtown.
Luke Cage might be a show about power, man, and Power Man, but while there's no doubt about the necessity for a bulletproof black man in today's America, Luke Cage himself isn't the even the toughest person on his own show. That honor belongs to Detective Misty Knight. And quite frankly, she deserves much, much better then the crap she's made to deal with.
Where to start?
After getting rough with Claire -- to which: wtf, writers? -- Misty herself ends up in interrogation, sitting face-to-face with her worst nightmare: a psychologist who wants to get chatty about her need for control, as if being a woman isn't reason enough to be more than a little paranoid. It's a completely reductive line of questioning, that's as insulting to Misty as it is to female viewers; it feels like a backwards step after the glory of Jessica Jones and the crossover success of Claire Temple. Sweet Christmas, Misty deserves so much better that! She deserves better than whatever either Luke Cage or Luke Cage is offering. I am not a crackpot.
Since her introduction, Misty's initial presentation as being exceedingly good at her job has been consistently undermined through the actions of others; she has residual feelings about her partner Scarf turning out to have been a mole for Diamondback, Luke Cage continues to trip her up for no good reason (though haven't we all been there?), and now she has to deal with the fallout of Diamondback getting the drop on her and holding her at gunpoint with her own gun. It's undoubtedly a lot to handle, but this "breakdown" of sorts that she's having feels more like a forced, contrived plot for the sake of side drama than actual character development. In a universe that consistently allows vigilantes and citizens alike to operate unchecked, Misty is the only character made to pay for her transgressions, and those of the men in her life, on a micro-level; everyone else can have a moment, but for some reason she has to be the punching bag because she comes with a badge instead of bulletproof skin or a family crime connection. She's a good egg, with a bit of a rough exterior, facing inexplicably biased standards from both the writing staff and her fellow cast of characters.
While the Harlem that Mariah talks about did certainly exist, the place Misty grew up in was very, very different. The neighborhood during Misty's childhood was a place where teenage girls could be murdered, without serious consequence, because they were left alone while their cousin ran out to the corner deli for a lemonade. It was and is type of hood where creepers like Diamondback run their dodgy game, not in the shadows, but in the open air, with politicians like Mariah falling in line, not out of fear, but for profit. It's a dangerous place, but Misty lives and breathes it, working to, as she says, to "stalk justice." While her life is unnecessarily rough, she's a conscious participant, staying planted uptown because it's her home. So to have her very character reduced to lashing out at Claire in some perverted chick fight over misplaced sentiment is uncalled for. The writers have her trapped in a stupid love triangle (quadrangle, if we're counting the actual Jessica Jones), and they're terribly mishandling it at the expense of one of the best Defenders characters in Netflix's miniverse.
The treatment as misogynistic as it is ridiculous, as Misty's scrappy, knows how to handle herself, and should be allowed to act as such. Yet here we are anyway, with the narrative seeming to imply that goody-two-shoes Claire is too perfect, shady Mariah is too irredeemable, and fully-fleshed out Misty must be made to pay for all their sins. That's not to say that she needs to play the part of the untouchable hero, but it might be nice if she as a character were at least allowed to play by the standard rules of the universe. And if that's too much for Luke Cage to handle, I'd like to suggest she take a nice vacation, followed by a move downtown. I hear Josie's Bar is a cool place hang and there are definitely a few investigative agencies in Hell's Kitchen who could use someone with her skills. In the meantime, she needs to work on giving Luke less space to live in her head, and remembering that she's a total badass.