After very little backstory in Luke Cage Season 1 and a surprising turn as Mariah Dillard's (Alfre Woodard) king consort in Season 2, Hernan "Shades" Alvarez (Theo Rossi) has risen higher up the Harlem food chain than most fans probably ever expected. And after a world order-changing season finale, the fan-favorite character will likely continue on a higher path.
**Spoiler Alert: This story contains spoilers for Luke Cage Season 2.**
In an interview with SYFY WIRE, Rossi broke down the three most important moments for Shades in Luke Cage Season 2. Perhaps unsurprisingly for Shades fans, all three of these moments would also probably make it onto a list of the most important moments for Season 2 overall. Shades has never wanted the Harlem throne for himself — but his behind-the-scenes interference has been vital to the kingdom since the beginning of Season 1.
Here are the three most important moments for Shades in Luke Cage Season 2 in Rossi's own words.
"This is not what we talked about" in Episode 10, "The Main Ingredient"
"One of them is when he can't kill the Jamaican girl from the restaurant. He can't kill her. I mean, this is a guy who kills without ever hesitating. That moment when he can't kill her... and it comes back. He easily could start killing again, like he does in Episode 13 when that guy tries to kill him. But he knows that she's innocent. He knows that she has nothing to do with this. And he had just killed someone innocent in his mind, which was Comanche. Even though he did what he did, in his mind, Comanche was innocent because, yes, he lived that street life and he snitched and he did this, but he didn't deserve to die. And I think that he couldn't ... so one of them was telling moments about Shades in that moment, he couldn't kill her. So that was a big one."
Killing Comanche in Episode 7, "On and On"
"Before he kills [Comanche, Shades] says, 'I couldn't say you were a snitch, because I love you. What does that say about me?' I think that line is so important... And he knows that if he doesn't kill him, ultimately he's dead. He won't survive in this world. So he does it and that's why it's so tragic and I think that's why he absolutely resents Mariah after that because of what they'd become. And then it leads to all the dominoes falling, ultimately.
"He absolutely and utterly loves [Comanche]. He was in love with him, he loved him. [Shades wonders,] would their life have been different if they got out of prison the same time? What would have happened? Would they have tried to rule together? But no, he has to create a new life and a new persona and a new everything. He's really built himself into this character, for lack of a better word. When he comes out he just thinks, 'Hey, he'll come out and he'll work for me and all that stuff was in the past.' But then it gets brought up."
Mariah and Shades' final confrontation in Episode 13, "They Reminisce Over You"
"I thought at the end, the scene with Mariah and Shades in the prison. I thought [it] was two people who had basically stripped every single defense mechanism away from them and they were coming in there raw and just saying 'you can't hurt me anymore. It didn't have to be like this. All you had to do was sell the thing. We could have ruled this land together.'
And ultimately what he's saying is 'if Comanche never got out, if you never did what you did in that restaurant, if Tilda never came back. All the things what we could of done.' It's almost like when a couple gets divorced or something. It's like 'what we could have been. Oh my god, we had so much potential.' And to watch that moment, I think that defines him — completely defines him. All the other stuff is very reactive and proactive, but when you really strip away the layers those three really humanize him more than anything."
Luke Cage Season 2 is now available on Netflix.