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‘Luke Cage’ Watchalong: Chapter 1, “Moment of Truth”

Welcome to the Luke Cage watchalong! This new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe joined its brethren (Daredevil and Jessica Jones) on September 30 on Netflix, and we want you to watch along with us. Over the next several weeks, we’re going to run recaps and reactions to all thirteen episodes in the show’s first season. If you haven’t started watching, read this article at your own risk. SPOILERS will occur!

Luke Cage on Netflix Logo

Pop’s Barber Shop is abuzz with activity, and the swear jar gets fuller every minute. Pop and his patrons discuss the Knicks while Luke Cage sweeps up. Shameek and Chico talk smack until Patty Wilson, a neighborhood lawyer, swings by to make a pass at Luke.

Pop and Luke discuss Luke’s super strength and invulnerability, alongside such melancholy topics as Luke’s late wife Reva, and Luke’s rebound relationship with Jessica Jones. Pop wants Luke to do more with his life and abilities than sweep hair, implying that he’d be an asset to teams like the Avengers (who saved New York in “The Incident” from the Chitauri not so long ago). Luke wants to keep his head low, since he’s a fugitive, and wants to live simply day to day; he heads to his second job to make rent for his landlord, “Genghis” Connie.

Chico, another barber at Pop’s, is strapped for a mission. This does not escape Luke’s attention, but they both have places to be.

At Harlem’s Paradise, the owner Cornell Stokes (aka Cottonmouth) meets with crooked Councilwoman Mariah Dillard. They’re joined by their new business partner Domingo Colon. Dillard is concerned about the visibility of the trio meeting and Cornell’s arms dealing enterprise. Wilson Fisk’s arrest is not so distant a memory. Raphael Saadiq sets a wonderful tone for this great scene.

Luke (normally a dishwasher) fills in for Dante (a bartender). He intrigues and is intrigued by Misty Knight, but he initially mistakes her for one of Stoke’s escorts.

Dante, Shameek, and Chico raid the weapons buy between Stokes’ people and Colon’s people. They’re successful, but Dante freaks out about the body count before Shameek kills him, too, over Chico’s objections. Stokes gets the notification shortly after offering Luke a “less-than-legal” job, which Luke declines. He meets Misty outside, and they spend the rest of the night together. She gets called into work the next morning, and she claims to Luke that she’s a financial auditor. Misty is, in fact, a homicide detective investigating the deal-gone-bad.

Shades“, who represents Diamondback (Stoke’s weapons supplier), comes to Stokes with an offer to facilitate tracking down the raiders (who got away with both the cash and the arms).

Dillard goes on camera in Harlem Garden to talk about her restoration plan for the area “New Harlem Renaissance”, and Stokes arrives to talk about the deal. Dillard was the financial backer, and faces a federal audit if the money is not found. With Shades watching, Stokes puts out a BOLO on Chico and Shameek, now confirmed to be the raiders.

Luke is frustrated that he’s not getting paid, as he needs the money for rent soon. He overhears when Shameek is brought before Stokes when Shameek comes into work and sees Shades (whom he recognizes from a shared stint in Seagate Prison).  When Shameek is not forthcoming with Chico’s whereabouts, Stokes beats him to death.

Luke returns home, afraid that Shades recognized him. Downstairs, his landlords are being muscled by Dillard’s thugs, who want money from the restaurant till to fund “New Harlem Renaissance”. Luke intervenes, revealing his abilities to Connie and her husband Jin. Connie tries to hand him money, which he does not accept. Jin protests that Luke has made matters worse, but Connie steadfastly wants to hire Luke for security. He again refuses, but gives his word that he will protect them.

lukecage_hero

Observations

  • Off to a strong start, the look and feel of the neighborhood makes it a vibrant character all its own. The music makes all the difference.
  • Pops provides most of the exposition, even going as far as calling Luke “Power Man”, his comic moniker.
  • This series clearly builds on Jessica Jones and is set after that show’s first season.
  • No unresolved tension between Misty and Luke, no matter what Pops thinks Luke needs.
  • I’m confused: why does Shades want everyone to think he’s blind?

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