Step in the Arena Recap

The emergency workers go through the wreckage of Genghis Connie's, looking for any survivors after the explosion that destroyed the restaurant. Misty and Scarfe are there as well, and a fireman tells them that they were lucky only the restaurant and the apartments above it were destroyed. The owner Jin is outside making a report, and Misty tells the fireman to call her if anything changes. She then tells Scarfe that it was Luke's place and figures that the explosion was from the outside in. Misty notices a CCTV and figures that they can answers from the recording if it works. Misty talks to Jin, who insists that Luke was inside with Connie when the explosion occurred.

Buried deep beneath the wreckage, Luke remembers the past.

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At Seagate Prison, guard Albert Rackham tells the new inmates that they have no rights. Another guard checks Carl Lucas as he comes in, and then Luke lines up with the others. When Carl scoffs at Rackham laying down the rules, Rackham punches him in the gut and says that he's surprised a former law officer can't follow the rules. The guards then take the prisoners to their cells. Carl sits on his bunk and tries to hold on to who he is. He screams in frustration and starts punching the concrete wall, sobbing and insisting that he didn't do it. Carl stares at his bloody knuckles and insists that he'll get through it.

Later, prison psychologist Reva Connors tells the prisoners that they have to make friends or the loneliness will tear them apart. She has one prisoner, Reggie "Squabbles," speak and he says that he hasn't seen his family in years. Carl says that he doesn't need or have to get to know anyone because there's no one he can trust there. Reva points out that he used to be a cop, and Carl says that he never sent anyone to Seagate so he doesn't have a problem with anyone there. He figures that trust in a prison sets the person up for failure.

Carl and Reggie go back to their cells, and Reggie says that what Reva is advising can help them focus. He warns Carl that strength only goes so far, but Carl isn't interested in making friends. Later on the yard, Carl lifts weights while Rackham talks to two prisoners, Shades and Comanche. Rackham figures that Carl pissed off someone powerful to end up in prison, and tells Comanche to see if Carl will bend or break.

That night, Comanche and Shades throw a pillowcase over Carl's head and beat him. He fights back and when Comanche comes at him with a shiv, he tosses him out of the cell despite taking a stab to the arm and slams Shades with the cell door. As the guards arrive, Carl warns the others that he's not going to take shit from them and then drops to his knees. Rackham watches, satisfied, and figures that he found himself a fighter.

Later, Rackham visits Carl in solitary and offers him the chance to make money and be his own man. Carl refuses to enslave himself, to Rackham or anyone else.

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Luke wakes up and finds Connie nearby. He wakes her up and realizes that there's a gas leak. Using his phone as a light, Luke checks the small space they have and warns that a wrong move could create a spark. He figures that if the rescuers can't get to them then he'll have to get to them. Luke says that he's kind of strong and starts lifting out heavy rubble.

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Carl goes back out on the yard and picks up a barbell weight. Reggie sees that he's heading for Comanche and stops him, and tells him not to do something stupid. They sit down and Reggie tells Carl to calm down and breathe some fresh air.

Later in group therapy, Reva tells the prisoners that they have to take responsibility for their actions. Carl asks if she's ever said the same thing to herself, and asks what gives her the right to ask the men what they think when she never shares. Reva says that it isn't her role, and Carl says that trust has to be earned. He asks what she's fighting, and figures that she didn't focus on a family member when she was earning her degree. Reva says that time is up and afterward, talks to Carl privately and says that her brother died in jail while she was getting her masters. She figures that she didn't do enough for him, and has regretted it ever since. Luke apologizes for pressing her, and Reva figures that he did it to keep her from pressing him. She realizes that Carl is innocent, but he says that karma has just caught up to him for other things that he's done. Carl realizes that she does care, and then the guard escorts him away.

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Misty and Scarfe review the footage and confirm that someone blew up the building with a rocket launcher.

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In group, Reva talks about the rumors of experiments. She insists that it's nothing more than rumors, but Carl points out that she works for Seagate and if it is true, she wouldn't admit it. Reva gives her word that there are no experiments happening there. Afterward, Carl stays behind to pick up the chairs. She wonders why she can't get him to talk in group, and says that he just caught a bad break. Luke says that he ended up in prison because he trusted the wrong person, and tells Reva that he comes to group because she provides hope. Rackham arrives and escorts Carl back to his cell.

As they head back, Rackham says that he can get Carl a woman. Carl still isn't interested, and Rackham says that he has a backup plan. An inmate he's prepped gets up and stabs several prisoners with a shiv, and Rackham claims Reggie did it. The guards shove Reggie down and Rackham promises Carl that he'll tear apart his world if he doesn't agree to fight. Carl has no choice but to give in, and Rackham calls the guards off of Reggie. However, Carl says that he'll only fight if Reggie is with him. Rackham just chuckles and walks off.

Soon, Reggie is training Carl in fighting. He says that he used to fight when he sold dope, and they argue about the best martial artist actor. Later, Comanche takes Carl and Reggie to the fight ring. There's a CCTV sending the fights out on the Internet, and Reggie gives Luke some final advice as he enters the ring. Carl soon knocks his opponent down.

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Luke frees Connie's trapped leg and she figures that it's broken.

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Carl continues fighting and winning, unleashing his anger on anyone who gets in his way until the guards have to pull him away. Later, Reggie warns Carl that he's not taking care of himself, and warns that he's spiraling downward. He wonders if Carl is losing his way, and Carl says that once he can get them out from under Rackham, he will.

Later, Reva finds Carl in the rec room watching TV. He sees her and comes outside, and she points out that he hasn't been to group in months, and he notices a man who has been watching him. Reva explains that it's Dr. Noah Burstein, the prison doctor. She then says that Reggie hasn't said anything about Carl, but she can tell that Carl is in a bad place. Reva figures that they had a breakthrough, but now Carl just seems broken. He says that it's not all about him and sometimes survival costs. Reva turns to go, and Shades goes with her as Carl watches. Rackham approaches Carl, who grabs him, but the head guard says that he realized Carl cares about two people in Seagate.

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The detectives are unable to get a clear image of the SUV Cornell drove away in. The firefighter calls and tells Misty that something is happening in the wreckage. She heads to the crime scene while Scarfe tells the technician to get him hard copies of the video. He then calls Cornell.

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Carl approaches Reva and asks her if she's talked to anyone in Seagate about their relationship. She says that she talked to Burstein but insists that he's legit. Carl then tells her about the fight ring, and he doesn't know what happens to his opponents after they go down. He warns that Rackham knows that he likes Reva, and he tells her that she should stop coming there. Reva offers to tell the warden, but Carl figures that he's in on it and she can't trust anyone. He asks her to contact his lawyer and say that he's ready to talk and get him out of Seagate, and then he'll take Rackham down himself. Reva insists that she didn't know anything, and asks Carl to find her after he gets out. When she wonders why he came to her, Carl says that she gives him hope.

Late, Carl meets with Reggie and says that he plans to stop fighting and get evidence against Rackham. Once Carl leaves, two guards approach Reggie and ask what Carl was talking about.

Carl has the prison barber trim his hair and beard. When he goes back to his cell, he finds Shades waiting. Comanche is waiting in Carl's cell and says that they've heard Carl is going to stop fighting. The two thugs admit that Reggie didn't give up Carl easily, and that this time their orders are to put Carl in the infirmary if he refuses to fight. They beat Carl to the point of death.

When Carl wakes up in the infirmary, Burstein tells Reva that Carl has internal damage and won't survive a transfer. Reva tells Carl that they beat the information out of Reggie and killed him, and begs Burstein to save Carl for her sake. Burstein tells her to go home and she reluctantly leaves. Burstein then warns Carl that he's probably going to die, but he'll probably die anyway. He then takes Carl to a lab and puts him in a tank, and floods it with an experimental fluid.

Rackham enters the lab and wonders why Burstein is trying to save Carl. The guard goes to the tank and tells Carl that he's going to die, and draws a gun on Burstein. Rackham then increases the acid flow into the tank and Carl screams in agony. The lights blow up as the power overloads. Carl climbs out of the tank, his injuries healed, and realizes that he's changed.

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Luke tells Connie to crawl through the tunnel that he's dug, and Connie says that once they get out, Luke is going to explain how he changed.

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Carl finds Burstein on the floor and Rackham buried beneath the wreckage. The alarms go off and Luke punches the outside wall. It cracks beneath his punch and his hand is unharmed. He then punches the wall again... and again... and again.

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Luke starts pushing his way up through the wreckage. Misty has a cameraman come up to shine his light at the pit the rescuers have created.

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Carl punches the wall until it shatters.

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Luke breaks through the rubble, and asks Connie to keep what happened a secret.

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Carl swims to shore and steals some clothing from a line. He then calls Reva at and they meet at a motel. While Carl shaves off his hair and beard to disguise his appearance, Reva looks at a flash drive. Once Carl comes out, Reva admits that Burstein's treatment was just supposed to heal him. Carl asks her if she knew about the experiments, and Reva says that she'll explain it all. He thanks her for saving his life, and she thanks him for changing hers. They kiss and Reva says that he'll need a new name. Carl considers and says that his father was a preacher, and used to quote a verse from Luke about how no one can cage a man who wants to be free.

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As the EMTs take Connie to the hospital, Luke watches. Misty comes over and says that they need to talk about what happened. Luke says that they'll talk later and starts to walk away. The reporters run over and ask who he is, and Luke removes his hoodie and says that he's Luke Cage.

Written by Gadfly on Oct 7, 2016