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!
If you haven’t already, read the previous entry for “Step In The Arena”
We pick up with Cottonmouth testing a new singer for Harlem’s Paradise as Luke Cage digs through the rubble of his tenant building. It has now been relocated by dump truck and a few spectators watch him dig for the swear jar from Pop’s Shop. Misty comes along after he leaves and finds the photo of Reva. Meanwhile, an old friend makes their way to Harlem – Claire Temple doesn’t take kindly to the traditional mugging and chases down her attacker.
State of Affairs
Cottonmouth has called a gathering of his gang and receives unwelcome news – the raid on ‘Fort Knox’ took all his money. One of his followers recommends leaving Luke to his own devices might let them keep their own territory. This ingenious idea is given a bullet to the head. The order is given to hit every street from 110 to 155th and take all the money. Shades is doubtful and reminds him how it looks to the elusive Diamondback. Cottonmouth finishes his orders with instructions to blame Luke Cage for the continued raids. What follows is several minutes of destruction in which Zep – one of Cottonmouth’s top men – steals a New York Nine’s ring from a resident.
Back at the Barber Shop, Bobby Fish has called in legendary tailor Dapper Dan to make Luke a suit for Pop’s funeral. Dan brings up the explosion from the other night and Luke asks after Mike Tyson. Bobby’s advice is to ‘be the best man you can be’ and to ‘always make sure they spell your name right’. As the pair discuss seating arrangements for the funeral, Bobby gives Luke the flat above the shop just before Aisha storms in and commands Luke to get back the ring. The strategy of ruining Luke’s reputation in Harlem is obvious to the pair as the hero becomes besieged by complaining residents the instant he steps outside. Claire Temple returns to her mother and reveals that she came home to be where ‘things made sense’ – like where blind men couldn’t see and private investigators didn’t have super-strength.
A daring crusade takes place when Luke begins taking down the various thugs who have been stealing from Harlem. Easily the best part yet is where Luke walks up to a thug who recognizes him from Genghis Connie’s who then decides to move back to Hell’s Kitchen. A brief confrontation with Misty and Scarfe allow her to tell Luke not to attend Pop’s memorial. Shades attempts to convince Cottonmouth to sell Harlem’s to raise some quick money but he refuses. It is his reputation and legacy. It also happens to have Luke Cage standing in the main hall. There is a brief fight and the worst happens – Shades recognizes the dead Carl Lucas.
Claire is spinning a salt shaker which aggravates her superstitious mother. A passing comment leads her to recount the impossible things she has seen – Matt Murdock, Luke Cage. Claire decides that she wants to help people with abilities and her mother mentions the events of the Battle of New York before calling Claire’s decision fate.
Shades has proceeded to tell Cottonmouth the hidden history of Carl Lucas. Despite the obvious problem of being bulletproof, Shades might have found something to kill Luke – a burrowing bullet that explodes. A test video shows one drilling through a military-grade kevlar plate and destroying half the torso. These bullets were developed by Justin Hammer using scavenged materials not from Earth – the Judas. But the price is on the steep side. Shades offers to let Diamondback deal with the problem instead. Cottonmouth doesn’t believe his ally but backs down after hearing that Diamondback would take Harlem. He resolves to square away the guns deal and get back on track before offering a deal to Diamondback.
Misty encounters unwelcome news – Internal Affairs is investigating Scarfe. Suspicions are floating around after he was spotted with Chico before Chico disappeared and arriving the Genghis Connie’s before anybody else. The arrival of Scarfe forces the covert conversation to break and Misty covers herself by claiming that it was about Luke. A mysterious phone call summons Scarfe away shortly after she leaves for Pop’s funeral.
Zap and his cronies are playing dice games in the park when Luke tracks them down. The rest of the crew are smart enough to leave but Zap attempts to shoot Cage and ends up lifted a foot into the air with Luke taking Aisha’s ring from his pocket. Luke reminds him that their shared history is all around Harlem if only he could open his eyes to it.
Scarfe’s mysterious partner makes himself known – Perez, the Captain’s partner. He reveals the Internal Affairs investigation and tells Scarfe that Cottonmouth needs the guns from evidence. A plan is already underway as Luke returns to Aisha’s shop. Her father – Eddie – is there and reminisces about the ‘good old days’. It was Aisha’s idea to open the shop so that he wouldn’t have to work so hard. Luke gives him a rude awakening at the same time that Clair sees a report on the news about Luke. A passerby directs her to the barber shop.
A full church has assembled for Pop’s funeral. Misty takes a seat and is closely followed by a shifty Aisha with one hand always in her purse. Cottonmouth enters and immediately starts checking his phone for a message from Scarfe who now has the guns. Pop’s son is the first to speak as Luke enters and sits beside Aisha. One hand crushes the hidden gun as Bobby asks for anybody else to deliver some words. In the most villainous move yet, Cottonmouth indicates himself just as Luke starts to rise.
The speech he delivers focuses on his promise to drive out foreign interlopers and ‘strangers with arcane abilities’. Luke and he pass as Cage flashes back to the night of Pop’s death on the approach to the altar. When Luke talks about Pop, he focuses on all the good that Pop did and how he is now trying to follow that ideal. Cottonmouth is visibly upset when everybody gives standing applause when to his foe. Aisha receives her ring and Luke taunts Cottonmouth about the victory in the church. Misty confronts Luke and tells him that the best way he can help is by leaving which he refuses to do.
- Claire Temple is making it three-for-three in Marvel’s Netflix endeavors and shows in her first scene that the normal people can still hold their own.
- Luke digging through the rubble just to find the swear jar speaks volumes about how much of an impact Pop made on him and how much respect he had for Pop.
- Forget the smile before Jessica killed Kilgrave, the beatdown of the century is the speech-off in the church.