‘Luke Cage’ Watchalong: Chapter 4, “Step in the Arena”

Bob Aquavia
Streaming TV
Streaming TV Marvel

Welcome to the Luke Cage watchalong! This new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe joined its brethren (Daredevil and Jessica Jones) on September 30 on Netflix, and we want you to watch along with us. Over the next several weeks, we’re going to run recaps and reactions to all thirteen episodes in the show’s first season. If you haven’t started watching, read this article at your own risk. SPOILERS will occur!

If you haven’t already, read the previous entry for “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?

Luke Cage on Netflix Logo

We pick up right as the previous episode ended, with Luke and Connie trapped underneath the rubble. Misty and Scarfe are there with the firefighters trying to figure out what happened. Misty’s already suspicious, knowing that it was Luke’s building and the blast was from an outside source, not from inside. They head off to the station to try and get the traffic camera footage to figure out what happened.

Back To The Beginning

While Luke is knocked out, it’s time for the origin story! Not only does Luke have a full head of hair and beard in Georgia’s Seagate Prison, but 1) he was a former law enforcement officer and 2) his real name is Carl Lucas. We also see this is how he met Reva! She’s the therapist for group sessions and tries to get Carl to open up. Carl tries going about his business alone and serve his time, but the guards have other plans.

Before Luke Cage, he was Carl Lucas.

Under the orders of the head guard, Rackham, Shades (!) and another inmate (Comanche) test Carl’s mettle by beating him. Carl overpowers them but not without injury. Unfortunately, Carl’s locked up in solitary for the fight. Rackham makes Carl an offer: become an underground fighter in the prison and you’ll be taken care of. Carl refuses the offer and stays in solitary because of his answer.

Back in the present, Luke wakes up. Connie’s alive but her leg is trapped in the rubble. Luke tries to figure out how to get them out of there without injury, letting Connie know that he has “abilities” that might be able to help them escape.

Back in prison, Carl is released out of solitary. He’s pissed and starts towards the inmates who attacked him when he’s stopped by Squabbles, a fellow inmate from the group. He calms Carl down and becomes what Carl needs right now: a friend.

Trust and Mistrust

In the group sessions, Reva pushes for the men to hold themselves accountable for their actions. Carl puts it back on her to come clean with what she’s done since he assumes she’s here doing this service as penance. After the group lets out, Carl apologizes to Reva for what he said. Reva also discloses that her brother died in jail and that’s why she does what she does. She also rightfully calls Carl out for deflecting in group and to just be honest with his feelings.

Luke opening up to his future wife
Carl (Mike Colter) and Reva (Parisa Fitz-Henley) have a heart-to-heart of the group session.

In the next group session, we also hear about rumors in the prison: shady stories about the prisoners being experimented on. Reva dismisses the rumors as ghost stories and offers plausible explanations for what’s happening; she gives her word to the group that no experiments are being performed. After a brief scene of Carl and Reva getting closer, Rackham steps in with a heart-to-heart of his own. After threatening Squabbles, Carl agrees to be part of Rackham’s fights.

Bruce vs. Jet

With Squabbles as his trainer, Carl starts his prison fighting career. Devoting himself to it, he quickly rises in the ranks but starts losing himself in the process. Reva is concerned over his behavior and tries to get him to talk. Carl tells her only a little bit but sees that Rackham and Shades are watching her as well.

Back in the present, Misty and Scarfe figure out it was a rocket that blew up the building. They also see footage of Cottonmouth’s SUV, which is not an actual link but is enough to start looking more in-depth. Misty’s called away because of “unusual activity” at the building, where Scarfe takes the opportunity to inform Stokes of the investigation’s process.

In the prison, Carl starts telling Reva about the fighting ring as well as his suspicions of the “prison doctor” that is always around. He gives Reva some information to tell his lawyer and wants to take them all down. He also expresses his gratitude to her for helping him, saying she gives him hope. Carl also tells Squabbles about his plan, but the other guards catch wind of what’s happening and get Squabbles alone to find out what he knows.


After cleaning himself up, Shades and Comanche confront Carl. They know Carl wants to get out, thanks to Squabbles telling them everything at the cost of his own life. The inmates give Carl a severe beating, putting him in critical condition and in the infirmary. Reva talks with the doctor, begging him to perform “the procedure” on Carl to try to save him.

Carl’s then taken to a room in the basement, where he’s hooked up to machines, injected with a solution and submerged in liquid. Rackham walks in and alters the machinery in an effort to kill Carl. The chemical reaction alters the machinery and causes it to explode. Rackham is killed and the doctor knocked unconscious. Carl stumbles out, trying to figure out what’s going on. When the alarm sounds he hits the wall in frustration, and causes a massive dent. He knows he’s changed and knows that he needs to escape.

The origin of Luke Cage
Carl is forever changed, thanks to the experiments.

Cross-cutting between past and present, Carl and Luke escape from prison and the building, respectively. Carl grabs some clothes and makes his way to a payphone. He makes contact with Reva, and after shaving his head and beard, talks with Reva about their next steps. She reassures him and says he’ll most likely be considered dead. They then discuss a new identity for him and share a kiss. Reva offers to explain her involvement in the experiments but for now, they need to stay ahead of the law.

Finally, back in the present, news cameras and witnesses flock around Luke after witnessing him break through the rubble in the building. After briefly ignoring them, he pulls down his hood, looks square in the cameras, and says “My name is Luke Cage.”


  • The argument of Bruce Lee vs. Jet LI and Lisa Bonet vs. Zoe Kravitz went a long way with showing Carl and Squabble’s friendship. I also agree with Carl on both points.
  • Nice shoutout to the original Power Man outfit, as well as Carl’s reaction to it.
  • Looking back, I think the rocket launcher was a bit excessive for one person. But that’s just me.
Bob Aquavia
I occasionally put words to page as a Fan Contributor by way of sunny Las Vegas. A fan of books (comic and otherwise), movies, tv, pro wrestling and video games. A periodic traveler and wanderer; also, more coffee than man.
Become a
Pop culture fans! Write what you love and have your work seen by millions.