Then along came “Luke Cage”. Critics were shown the first seven episodes of the thirteen episode season and were positive about it with a 79/100 MC score. Unfortunately when the full batch of episodes emerged, neither they or fans have been as enamored with the series – the back half in particular coming under heavy criticism for the loss of Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth from the action.
Series star Mike Colter recently pointed out on ESPN’s First Take (via Screengeek) that a bigger plan was in play which is why Ali’s antagonist was replaced halfway through the show’s run by another villain in the form of Diamondback. It was a gamble, and one that even he seems to admit didn’t pay off, but it had to be tried:
“Look. The decision to do that was done way before production. A lot of people are involved in this. When you’re doing it on paper, it’s like running a play in football. You do it in practice, it works, it looks good. In the game, it doesn’t work and all of a sudden in retrospect – it seems stupid. All of the series have a bad guy. Usually, by the end of the season, everyone is tired of the bad guy and thinks we should have been able to resolve these 10 episodes in 8.
So in theory, you’re going wow, you bring another (bad guy) in and the (bad guy) is good and people are enthralled by this guy – now we’ve set the series in a sense and now people are in another direction and they don’t know whats going to happen. You’ve basically knocked them on their heels. It’s like running a trick play and onside kicking at the start of the second half. These things work.
But when they don’t work, people will go ‘oh that was redundant’. Some things in hindsight, you know, people look and go ‘we should have done things differently’. I don’t think any one is going to argue that. Listen. The whole thing is subjective, whether we want to admit it or not.”