Season 1 Episode 8 "Blowin' Up The Spot"
While we pour one out in memory of Mahershala Ali's brilliantly realized portrayal of Cottonmouth, we also welcome the latest snake monikered villain. Erik LaRay Harvey's Willis "Diamondback" Stryker is the guy who shot Luke (Mike Colter) near the end of Episode 7, and he starts this episode ready to finish what he's started. I'm not a huge fan of introducing a villain who almost immediately sidelines Misty (Simone Missick) and Claire (Rosario Dawson) just to prove what a total badass he is, but I'm honestly a little bitter that Mariah (Alfre Woodard) killed arguably my favorite character and actor on the show.
Harvey impresses in his official debut as Diamondback, even if he does suffer a bit from Poochie syndrome, you know, a radical new character that people can't stop talking about, particularly when he's not on screen. My main issue with him, however, is the fact that his entire motivation seems to be that Luke's father—who took Willis in when he had no one—loved Luke more than him. So I guess we'll add Diamondback to the pile of Marvel characters with major league daddy issues. Fantastic. Gotta always find our way back to the formula, fellas, don't we?
Mariah's quest to frame Luke is probably the expositional highlight of this episode, with Alfre Woodard knocking it out of the park once again. The scene where she stares down that picture of Mama Mable while denying that she's turning into her mentor—Beautifully done! Some of the best acting in the entire Marvel Universe.
Misty still isn't doing much of anything for me, particularly in an episode like this where they don't give her much to do. I think Claire is the far more interesting character, but perhaps that's just because I'm more familiar with her. Either way, I'm hoping her storyline evolves into more than just constantly being one-step behind virtually everyone else in Harlem.
The final "shocking" reveal that Diamondback is indeed Luke's brother carried no weight for me, as I don't yet care about this new character and they seem to be doing everything in their power to make me think he's the bees knees. It makes no sense to me why they would kill off a perfectly good villain just to bring in some indestructible killing machine that's tangentially related to everyone on the show. It's a misstep in my estimation, but I'm willing to see where they go with this, especially in light of there still being five more episodes to go. Let's just hope they're better than this one.