Warning: The following recap contains spoilers for Episode 9 of Marvel’s “Luke Cage.” Check out our recaps of Episodes 1-8, then rejoin the party, already in progress.

Today’s “Luke Cage” is all about the ladies: Misty, Mariah and Claire.

Among the many things Marvel’s Netflix shows do well is giving their female leads greater agency and meatier roles beyond “Gal Friday/love interest” (all due respect to Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman and Rachel McAdams), and Luke spending an entire episode either doubled over in pain or strapped to an operating table gives Simone Missick, Alfre Woodard and Rosario Dawson time to earn their paychecks.

After her brush with Diamondback (Erik LaRay Harvey) and interrogation-room assault of Claire Temple in the previous episode, Detective Misty Knight has her head examined by a police psychologist.

In these scenes, we learn all the reasons Misty shouldn’t be investigating Luke (Mike Colter) for Cottonmouth’s murder: the fact she slept with him, the fact she didn’t know her partner was working for Cottonmouth, the fact she let herself be compromised by Diamondback and the fact she’s so clearly exhausted she allowed herself to lose control and rough up someone who wasn’t even a suspect.

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So what does her current overseer do given all that information? She gives Misty back her badge and gun and tells her to go after Luke. Are there no other detectives in this precinct? Why keep giving the Cottonmouth case back to the one cop who’s far too deep into it to see clearly?

It would be easy just to put Misty on leave and give her the free time to investigate on her own, but that wouldn’t be true to the character. Even in the face of widespread corruption and a captain who’d rather see her fired, Misty is such a firm believer in the criminal justice system that it would compromise her ideals to work outside the law. It would make her one of the vigilantes she’s been complaining about since the beginning. So go get him, Misty, even if he is the hero of the show.

Meanwhile, now-former Councilwoman Mariah Dillard attempts, futilely, to get out from under her late cousin’s criminal racket. She pays a visit to Domingo Colon (Jacob Vargas), one of Cottonmouth’s old business partners/frenemies, and asks him to arrange a meeting of the local crimelords so she can divvy up Cottonmouth’s assets accordingly. Diamondback crashes said meeting and kills all the dons except Domingo, declares himself in charge of all their criminal enterprises and tells Mariah she now works for him, and will help him pitch his alien-tech-infused Judas bullets to the police as a way to stop vigilantes like Cage, whom he revealed at the end of last episode to be his brother.

Elsewhere, Claire drives a wanted Luke – not only has he been framed with Cottonmouth’s murder, video has surfaced of him assaulting two police officers and stealing their cruiser – to Georgia seeking help removing all the Judas shrapnel from his impenetrable body. And who else could help him but the man who created him, Dr. Noah Burstein (Michael Kostroff)? Burstein and Claire compare notes using a thumbdrive Luke got from Reva, his prison counselor/late lover, and decide the best way to get inside Luke is to dip him in a vat of acid to soften his epithelial tissue enough to be able to cut into it with a scalpel.

Luckily, Burstein happens to have everything he needs in a barn on his property. That’s not weird at all.

They dip him in once and listen to him scream, When they take him out, Burstein runs a test scalpel on him and it still breaks. So they dip him in again, and the screams continue until Luke seizes and goes into cardiac arrest, which is where the episode ends.

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Observations:

Luke utters “Sweet Christmas,” his trademark catchphrase from the comics, twice this episode. The first time is when he gets a good whiff of himself after he emerges from the trash truck he landed in when Diamondback shot him with the second Judas bullet at the end of last episode. The second time is when Burstein describes how he and Claire are going to dip him in acid and how the pain would likely be so excruciating that Luke would beg Burstein to put a bullet in his head, except that would be pointless because the bullet would just bounce right off. On the scale of Mighty Marvel Catchphrases, “Sweet Christmas!” ranks just below the Thing’s “It’s clobberin’ time!” and just above Dr. Strange’s “By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth!”

Misty at one point tells the police psychologist, “I see everything, and I forget nothing,” which sounds very much like another great comics detective who’s often been written as having an eidetic memory. So now I want to see Misty Knight written into Batman stories.

Additional points to Misty for shouting out Raekwon’s “Ice Cream,” a song that was on constant rotation on dearly departed music video channel The Box in 1995, and further proof that the members of the Wu-Tang Clan were just as unstoppable as solo artists as they were together.

I feel kind of bad for Domingo. Remember way back in Episode 3 when he dropped a bunch of Milky Ways all over the floor of Cottonmouth’s club and thought it was a gangsta move? He’s since had his gym wrecked by Luke and now has to clean the blood of four dead crimelords off his stuff. Domingo is like that guy who gets his car busted up in the bonus stage of “Final Fight” and falls to his knees weeping “Oh, my car.”

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Burstein at one point tells Luke his DNA may have been “the X-Factor” that made his tampered-with experiment — intended to create artificial skin for burn victims — give Luke his powers. This could be a vague hint that Luke is an Inhuman and the magic had been inside him all along. But Burstein also compares Luke to Viagra, in that both were happy accidents stumbled upon on the way to creating something else, so it’s pretty clear the doctor is just the one-eyed man in the land of the blind.

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Press copy editor since 2006, copy desk chief since 2014. Masters in journalism from Temple University, 2006. My weekly comics blog, Wednesday Morning Quarterback, appears Wednesday mornings at PressofAC.com.