Luke Cage, as a show, had to step it up after episode 4. It was the best episode of the season so far, because it gave Luke some much needed character development. We got to see his former wife, Reva Connors, and the start of their relationship. During this, Luke was trapped at the bottom of some rubble with Connie, an Asian woman who he’s been living with, while working part-time at different jobs. The world knows who Luke is now. The show can’t afford to stand still anymore. Let’s get this Cottonmouth v. Luke thing poppin’ because this is the time to do it.
The show doesn’t disappoint in this episode. The beginning of this episode is legendary. Absolutely legendary. I love the show’s willingness to say the word “nigga.” The show dives face first in black culture. Whether people like it or not, rap music and that word are a staple of black culture. It’d be disrespectful not to mention the artist responsible for the great song that gets us started. His name is Jidenna and the song is called “Long Live the Chief.” The beat, the lyrics, everything about this song represents Cottonmouth’s mood towards Luke right now. I’m starting to notice that the music played at his club, slightly represents Cottonmouth’s current mood in earlier episodes too. It’s appropriate since music is his number one love.
Our favorite nurse makes her return too. Claire is back in her hometown of Harlem. While the song is still going on, Claire is robbed by some random guy on the street. Does she lay down? C’mon, we know Claire better than that. She beats up the mugger, leaving him embarrassed on the street. I loved her scene with her mom, because it’s setting her up to have a huge potential role in the Defenders (I swear if they kill her off in that show, I’m done with Marvel.)
This episode is our first taste of Hero for Hire. Cottonmouth holds a meeting with his associates. He kills one of his men when the associate suggests the idea of benign neglect. Leave Luke alone and maybe he will do the same. Cottonmouth begins to extort all the people of Harlem. When they ask what’s going on, the associates say, “Talk to Luke Cage about it.” I loved this because we see the seeds planted for Hero for Hire as Luke has to help people throughout the city.
I have two favorite parts of this episode. Both involve our hero and villain facing off. Luke approaches Cottonmouth at his club (I love his confidence) to basically warn him. Shades, the main guy running with Cottonmouth now, recognizes Luke from their days back at Seagate Prison.
The end of the episode takes place at Pop’s funeral. Both our hero and villain attempt to sway the crowd to their side. Cottonmouth tries to isolate Luke from the rest of Harlem. He isn’t from the city, hell for all they know he isn’t human. It’s a clever ploy, but what Luke says to the crowd, is what makes him great. He tells the people the truth about what Pops stood for. Helping people who needed it. Seeing the good in someone, because no one else will. No matter they’re past, or what they’ve done, everyone is worth something. He preaches a message of unity, coming together every day. It’s a daily struggle, but Harlem can do it because it has the people. It’s a message to Harlem but also to black people struggling with corrupt politicians and businessmen in inner cities today. A great end to the episode as Misty reminds Luke that he isn’t the only one fighting Cottonmouth. She also reminds him that the people of Harlem can’t take the hits like he can.
My only negative for this episode is Misty still. I feel something big on the horizon for her, but they need to get to it. Her partner Scarfe is dirty, so maybe there’s going to be a big showdown between them later. Either way, this episode delivered after a promising episode 4. The war is officially in full swing now. Can Luke survive by himself? Or will Cottonmouth gain the upper hand? This show is something special, that’s for sure.