Luke Cage | S1 E5

Another day and other great episode, but as I shun the real world in favour of my Luke Cage fix, will Luke’s origin story prove to be this series lull? ….. Join Film and TV Nerd to find out!

Luke Cage going public with his identity and his powers is proving to have some major consequences for Harlem in “Just to Get a Rep.” The war between him and Cottonmouth is only escalating more. But more importantly, more and more people are getting caught in the crossfire. This show understands the importance of a community. It has such respect for the history of this world. This is a neighbourhood where everyone knows each other.

Cottonmouth was a beloved figure in Harlem. Everyone knew who he was and had respect for what he was trying to do. Cottonmouth broke that trust which led to Pops’ death. That’s what sparked so much of the current conflicts. And now, Luke and Cottonmouth are only further complicating each other’s lives – often at the expense of Harlem.

Luke didn’t need to reveal his powers to the world. He’s been using them quite a bit over the last few episodes. He’s really starting to bring a lot of attention to himself. But it’s one thing to storm the centre and take down a bunch of known criminals. It’s another thing completely to just be digging through the rumble of the restaurant in the hopes of finding the swear jar that belongs at Pops’ barbershop. He’s out in the open in broad daylight. He’s just moving around huge pieces of the building like it’s nothing. He doesn’t attract that much of a crowd but it’s still a significant development.

This is something he’s choosing to do. He no longer cares about the consequences because he needs to honor Pops’ memory. That’s the most important thing to him right now. Honouring and respecting the people of Harlem who want to make the neighbourhood a better place. He aims to take down the people who wish it harm.

Luke doesn’t want to take control of Harlem from Cottonmouth. He just wants to push out the danger and criminal lifestyle. He wants to make a safe space where neighbours can respect each other again. Not be terrified whenever some gangsters come barging through their door expecting to be paid. Of course, Luke’s actions make it hard on the neighbourhood. Cottonmouth wants to send a message that it’s Luke fault that their lives are going to be substantial worse.

If they were upset with the previous arrangements, they are going to be livid, outraged and horrified by the new ones. Cottonmouth sends his entire crew to try and recoup the money that was lost. It’s a fool’s goal. There’s no way he can replace that kind of money. The police seized all of it and he can’t get it back. So, he’s determined to make Harlem pay for it while also turning them against Luke Cage. It’s not the smartest plan. All Luke has to do is collect what’s stolen from the citizens to win their appreciation. He rules by kindness and smarts. Cottonmouth rules through fear and intimidation. Two radically different styles that are only continuing to prop up the war.

“Just to Get a Rep” also introduces a new weapon that may be able to take Luke down. It’s mostly just plot setup in this hour. Shades finally recognizes Luke. It’s a blast from his past he was never expecting to see again. He had no idea that Carl Lucas survived the beating in the prison. He comes to that realization after seeing Luke fight. Luke isn’t trying to hide the past either.

He makes sure that Shades remembers who he is now. That could be very dangerous. Shades is still such a mysterious character. His organization, Diamondback, is shrouded in secrecy. Shades and Cottonmouth make lots of allusions to the man in charge. His reputation is just as large as Cottonmouth’s is in Harlem. But he’s still a player yet to make his mark on the season.

Right now, it’s just important that Shades has a bullet made out of alien metal left over from the Battle of New York. It’s a reveal that suggests Luke may not be as indestructible as he believes. Bullets hardly phase him anymore. He keeps forgetting that his wardrobe isn’t bulletproof. This twist seems to suggest that things are about to turn in this war. But that’s a mystery left until later on this season.

Right now, it’s important that everyone attends Pop’s funeral. There are so many conflicts boiling under the surface of this event. Bobby knows all about Pop’s complicated love life and who should not sit near each other. But the conflicts at the funeral are much more tense than some silly love triangles. Misty doesn’t believe Luke should attend. Pop meant something to her as well. She’s mourning his love and is afraid of what will happen to Harlem if the war between Luke and Cottonmouth continues to escalate.

She is now fully aware of what each side is capable of doing. She’s caught in the middle trying to prevent any further bloodshed. But she hasn’t really been all that effective at her job so far. In fact, she largely just pops up to warn Luke about the potential consequences of his actions in this neighbourhood. Of course, Luke loves Harlem. He wants to see it thrive as a community for all. He wants to restore the barbershop to its former glory. He wants to continue Pops’ legacy. But the story ultimately comes down to Luke and Cottonmouth’s duelling eulogies. Each side presents their case to Harlem.

Cottonmouth wants to protect this neighbourhood from the outsider bringing it so much harm and destruction. Luke wants to save and honour the city while protecting it from those who wish to exploit it for their personal gains. It’s a rousing final sequence for the episode. One where Luke believes he was won but the war is far from over between the two.

“Just to Get a Rep” also marks Claire Temple’s first appearance on the show. She is the character who connects the Marvel shows on Netflix more than any one else. Sure, it has mainly been guest appearances but she’s an important part of this universe.

The fact that she’s listed as a series regular here suggests that she’ll continue to have just as much importance here as she has had on Daredevil. Perhaps she’ll get even more. She really deserves it. Rosario Dawson has constantly been a delight in the role. Neither Daredevil nor Jessica Jones have actually given her a lot to do though. Claire largely pops up whenever a character needs medical assistance. It’s great to see her first appearance on Luke Cage has nothing to do with her profession. She’s returning home to her mother after being let go from her job. She didn’t want to stay silent about the events that happened with the ninjas in Season 2 of Daredevil. And now, she finds herself back in Luke Cage’s orbit.

The two haven’t crossed paths yet. But her presence suggests that they will. She has a feeling that she should be helping people with special abilities. It’s something she clearly gravitates towards. She has seen Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage in action. With Luke going public with his identity, help from Claire could be something he really needs right now.

What did you think of this episode?

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