A new reverend is in New York City for Luke Cage Season 2, but Reg E. Cathey's character is not so new to the story. Spoilers for Episodes 1-3 follow. Reverend James Lucas is Luke Cage's father, which really shouldn't be a surprise since Luke's given name is Carl Lucas and viewers were introduced to the reverend via flashback in Season 1. In the season that premiered June 22, Luke gets to face the father who lied to him for years. And from the first three episodes of Season 2, it's still unclear whether Reverend James Lucas is worthy of his son's trust.
Within the first few minutes of Luke Cage Season 2, the reverend is already writing a sermon focused on his son. He is practicing a warning to his new congregation that they shouldn't think Luke is an infallible hero. He says, "Luke Cage is nothin' but a man and there's a reason we do not worship men. Because we're weak. Subject to temptation, ego, vainglorious, spiteful. Oh yes, Lord knows we are spiteful. Bulletproof skin doesn't change nature."
While there is some truth in his sermon, what the reverend's congregation wouldn't know is just how aware James is of Luke's nature. And they also wouldn't know that Luke has a pretty good reason to be spiteful against father. Because in Season 1, Luke learned that the weapons supplier Willis Stryker (aka Diamondback) was actually his illegitimate half-brother from an affair his father had.
Luke never knew that his childhood friend Willis was his brother. But in the Season 1 episode, "Take It Personal," Luke realized the truth. He and Claire visited his father's church in Georgia and Luke's memories came back to him. While he didn't understand it as a child, he sees now that his father had been having an affair with his secretary, Dana Stryker. Etta and James Lucas paid Dana money to keep the paternity of her son Willis a secret. But Willis, who eventually became the villain Diamondback, had been harboring years of resentment toward Luke for never being recognized as part of the Lucas family.
Luke blames his father's infidelity and lies for causing a ripple effect that led him to have powers and Reva dying. After all, if Luke had known that Willis was his brother, Diamondback may have never set him up, which is how Luke ended up in Seagate prison where he was experimented on. So even though the reverend is in New York City now, Luke has no real interest in seeing his dad.
In the Season 2 episode, "Straighten It Out," James comes to Pop's Barber Shop as a way to connect with "Carl." But Luke, along with not being happy with being called by his birth name, wants nothing to do with his dad. And unfortunately, this causes a major rift between Claire and Luke. She thinks that Luke should be happy that his father is reaching out, but he says he's not ready to deal with him yet. So Claire takes it upon herself to go visit the reverend's church. When Luke finds out that Claire spoke to his dad, he punches her apartment wall. After this violent outburst, Claire decides she needs space from Luke and leaves New York City.
Claire has a point about making amends with family, but Luke also has a good reason not to trust his father. And based on Cathey's slightly ominous portrayal (one of his final roles before his death earlier this year), Luke's instincts may be right. But Reverend James Lucas' intentions for coming to New York City won't be clear until this father and son face off in Season 2.