He used to tell me that "no one can cage a man if he truly wants to be free."
- Luke Cage (Carl Lucas) (Main story and flashback) (Origin revealed) (Real name first revealed)
- Squabbles (Reggie) (Only appearance; dies) (Only in flashback)
- Dr. Reva Connors (Only in flashback)
- Detective Rafael Scarfe
- Albert Rackham (Only appearance; dies) (Only in flashback)
- Shades (Only in flashback)
- Comanche (Only in flashback)
- Cottonmouth (Cornell Stokes) (Mentioned)
- Zip (Behind the scenes)
- Genghis Connie's (Disbands)
- Dr. Noah Burstein (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Lieutenant Perez (First appearance)
- James Lucas (Mentioned)
- Tyler Stuart (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Humans (Main story and flashback)
- Earth-199999 (Main story and flashback)
- Electro-Biochemical System (First appearance)
Synopsis not yet written
|Luke Cage||Mike Colter|
|Detective Misty Knight||Simone Missick|
|Detective Rafael Scarfe||Frank Whaley|
|Reva Connors||Parisa Fitz-Henley|
|Albert Rackham||Chance Kelly|
|Squabbles / Reggie||Craig muMs Grant|
|Dr. Noah Burstein||Michael Kostroff|
|Comanche||Thomas Q. Jones|
|Connie Lin||Jade Wu|
|Jin Lin||Clem Cheung|
|Keely||David Marston Fobbs|
- The Gang Starr song the episode is named after is "Step in the Arena", from the album of the same name. The song could be interpreted as an introduction to Gang Starr through their use of combat terms, while the episode features Luke's origin story revolving around a prison fight circle.
- The songs featured in the episode is "Feel Alive" by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
- Clifton Cutrary and Jared Kemp are credited in the episode as the younger versions of Luke Cage and Willis Stryker, respectively, but the actors don't appear in the episode.
- In prison, Squabbles talks about how attractive Lisa Bonet is. Luke tells him about her daughter, Zoë Kravitz, and how she is like The Godfather Part II ("better than the original"). Kravitz reacted to this on Instagram, saying she was flattered but could never be as good as her mom.
- For a brief moment, Luke Cage sports a metal headband and braces, a yellow shirt and blue jeans. This is a nod to the Power Man outfit he wore in the 60s.