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Luke Cage took the streaming world by storm and swagger this past weekend, and fans finally got an extended look at the third series in Netflix's Marvel library. Just about all of the drama's moving parts were pitch perfect - read our review here - and part of the excellence comes from Theo Rossi's calmly menacing Hernan "Shades" Alvarez. Rossi is no stranger to scripted organized crime, having starred for seven seasons as Juice in the hit drama Sons of Anarchy, but for him, Shades is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Juice. Here's one reason.
Shades is a bad guy. I don't think Juice was ever a bad guy. I just found out recently, someone told me that he actually had taken more lives than almost any character and you never think of him like that. Not counting any of the giant shootouts, but he did single-handedly take out the most people, which is so weird because I always looked at him like a victim. He was the nice guy, so it's shocking that someone said that. I'm going to have to fact check that and see when I go back in 20 years and rewatch the entire run.
That is pretty crazy and worth a Sons of Anarchy marathon for confirmation. Starting off low on the SAMCRO totem pole, the doting and usually trustworthy Juice quickly became one of the core members, but his own loyalty to the club forced him into some awful dilemmas, and apparently . On the contrary, Shades is always portrayed with villainous intentions, and it's always very clear that everything he accomplishes is for his own means, with a "loyalty" akin to a student's feelings about a harsh teacher. Juice and Shades couldn't be on the same team.
The differences between Juice and Shades also extend to those body counts that Theo Rossi referred to. Because Juice rose up the ladder, he was responsible for having to do a lot of the hands-on killing on Sons of Anarchy, and there was a lot of death on that show. Meanwhile, Shades is more of a quiet enforcer who pulls strings and makes others get their hands dirty, as he dresses far too well to have to worry about getting bloodstains removed. Well, I guess he's also rich enough to just throw those clothes away.
Theo Rossi spoke with THR about more ways in which Juice and Shades are opposites, and as you might have imagined, another big part of it is in the brainpower.
Where someone like Juice was kind of side-stepping and moving backwards and everything was happening to him, this is a guy who is so incredibly intelligent and a giant chess player. . . . That's why I was so interested in this role. I guess if it's a word, the cerebral-ness of the character, the fact that he's thinking and he's more the leader as opposed to the follower. That's a very big difference from something I just came from playing for seven years. I played a guy who was really trying to hold his breath and keep up rather than control the situation.
If you want to have a fun time, go back to one of the more Shades-heavy episodes of Luke Cage and try to pretend that it's actually an older version of Juice. It's pretty impossible, and you'll just wonder when something is going to go extremely wrong for him.
All 13 episodes of the reference-dropping Luke Cage are currently available to binge on Netflix, and binge on them you should. To see what else you can spend time with in the near future, check out our fall TV schedule.