Spoilers ahead for the Luke Cage Season 2 finale. Is the Hero for Hire about to become the criminal he used to fight against? Luke Cage's second season ended on an extremely ominous note suggesting that very idea, with Luke Cage (Mike Colter) taking the place of the crime boss overseeing Harlem's Paradise, the seat in which Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes (Mahershala Ali) and Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard) used to occupy — before their violent, bloody deaths. By the end of the Season 2 finale, Luke had successfully toppled Mariah's crime organization, effectively putting her behind bars (until her estranged daughter killed her with a poisoned kiss during a supervised visit in jail). With the vacant position of crime boss poised to create a dangerous power vacuum, Luke decided to become the "sheriff" of Harlem instead, insisting he wouldn't become corrupted by the power and temptation of breaking bad. So where does that leave Luke Cage's loyalties in a potential Season 3?
But even the most righteous of heroes can be corrupted, and Luke is heading down a very dark path for Season 3. "That's what D.W. [Jeremiah Craft] is talking about: if you control crime, you're a crime boss," Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker tells Bustle at a recent Netflix event in Hollywood. "You have to deal with that. I don't know if Luke is really dealing with that emotionally the same way that Michael Corleone [Al Pacino], certainly the same way when he first became The Godfather, didn't deal with it."
Expect Luke Cage Season 3 to have more than a few similarities to The Godfather trilogy, according to Coker. "There's a difference between the Michael Corleone in Godfather II vs. the Michael Corleone that we saw at the end of Godfather I," he adds. "We'll have to see if we have the opportunity to tell a story for Season 3 where Luke's going to be."
But whether or not Coker is given the chance to continue telling the story of Luke Cage, he's proud of where he ended the second season and what it means for Luke moving forward.
"That I think is one of the things that is so haunting about that ending," Coker says. "When we see Luke at that desk, the weight of the world on his shoulders, you can't wait to see what happens. That's the feeling we want to leave people with."
The moment when Luke refuses to let his girlfriend Claire (Rosario Dawson), who he hadn't seen since she decided to leave town after his angry outburst earlier in the season, come up to his office in Harlem's Paradise is very telling of the direction his life is headed in.
"That moment is of course influenced by The Godfather as well," Coker explains. "If Claire is his Kay [Diane Keaton], he knows that he's getting down into something and she shouldn't be a part of that. It's interesting to see him navigate these waters. I'll just say that I'm hoping that Season 2 moves the needle enough for [Netflix] to order a Season 3."
Regardless of if Luke ends up becoming a hero or a villain, there are two other possibilities for who will become the big bad of Season 3: Mariah's killer and estranged daughter Tilda (Gabrielle Dennis) or Mariah's ex-lover and partner Juan Carlos "Shades" Alvarez. Who will end up reigning over Harlem?
"Good questions, questions that will eventually be asked in the Season 3's writers room once we officially get back together," Coker says. "I hope that we get a third season. Nothing's ever guaranteed. I just hope that people love Season 2 enough that we break Netflix again and Netflix feels confident about bringing us back for a third season. That's my whole goal, trying to come up with a hashtag that will encourage people to watch simultaneously and we have the same kind of eruption. I hope people are missing work to watch Luke Cage." If that's what it takes to get a third season, then work will just have to wait.