In the first season, Mariah is a suave politician. She mostly makes calculated moves, unlike her cousin, Cornell, who's impulsive. As an additional contrast with Cornell, the former is willing to refer to himself by a certain racial epithet, while Mariah seems to find it offensive.

She definitely does have the potential to lose control of herself, as we see with one particular incident. But overall, she seems composed.

However, by the second season, her character seems to have changed a bit.

  • She seems to be a lot more emotional. She's faster both to celebrate, despair, get angry....

  • She also seems to be pretty open with public displays of affection with Shades, which doesn't seem much like the way she was acting last season.

  • She seems to have adopted Cornell's willingness to refer to himself by said racial epithet.

She still retains her former distaste for the family business, despite having taken over; indeed, she's trying to get out.

Now, part of this could just be my perception, and the first season was some time ago, but she seems to have notably changed.

Why is this? Is this part of her character evolution? Was it a directorial choice? Is the intent to show her acting more like Cornell?

  • I haven't seen the 2nd season so I won't answer formally, but there was the undertone throughout the whole first season (which I just finished watching) of Mariah becoming more and more like "Mama Mable". Season 2 is years after Season 1, so this could just be the natural progression of her partnering with Shades and following in Cornell's footsteps.
    – TylerH
    Jun 29, 2018 at 19:54
  • @TylerH what makes you say it's years afterward? I've not seen anything that said this, nor does the new season seem to be that much after the first?
    – Dave
    Jun 30, 2018 at 20:17
  • @Dave At the end of Luke Cage Season 1, he goes to prison to finish out his sentence, of which I'm pretty sure they mention there is more than a year left. In Defenders, which takes place entirely between Luke Cage Seasons 1 and 2, Luke is just getting out of prison at the beginning.
    – TylerH
    Jun 30, 2018 at 20:51
  • 1
    @Dave Hmm, it could have been an early release; from everything that happened at the end of Luke Cage with the Marshals to the first episode of Defenders, I got the distinct impression he had been in the slammer a while; Mariah and Shades had dropped off the radar and a new game had set up shop in town. I will tweet @ the show writer to see if he might respond with a definitive answer.
    – TylerH
    Jun 30, 2018 at 21:17
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    It was definitely not immediate. Foggy mentions Luke having done "an entire prison stint without throwing a punch". They mention Bobby and Foggy doing a lot to get him out, and a lot of phone calls. Claire mentions waiting for Luke to get out of prison. Luke mentions "a lot of tough days" that only Claire's letters helped him get through. Luke un-jokingly asks Misty if she's still on the force. Misty talks about having been transferred and settled into a new job, and new unexplained crime popping up. We can maybe infer a few months, but there's no way he was released almost immediately.
    – phantom42
    Jul 7, 2018 at 3:20

1 Answer 1


Mariah Dillard is, indeed a polished politician as well as a criminal sociopath.

Everything about her image, starting from the first moment she is introduced in S1 is a shrewdly calculated performance.

The show confirms this part of her nature is engrained into her character’s origin, which tells us that she was sent away as a child to receive a fancy education. This allows her to skillfully and seamlessly code switch throughout the show; she goes between peppering her words with slang and speaking the Queen’s English. Her dialogue shifts based on whether she’s performing for cameras or speaking to someone close to her.

She is a chameleon. If superheroes’ nemesises are by nature supervillains then Mariah’s effective superpower is to change her projected image, as a chameleon changes her skin, including how she chooses to calibrate her outward-apparent emotions such as celebration, despair, anger or affection.

Even her outward-projected plans are all a calibrated act, including “getting out.”

Never forget she is a shrewd sociopath. As we learn in the series finale:

Her gift of her club to Luke Cage is no altruistic exit plan; it is a generational plan to break her enemies, even after her own death.

It’s all an act; nothing she shows outwardly can be taken as truth of her character, unless she is somehow showing a plan to corruptly break, destroy someone’s life or better her own power.

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