“Moment of Truth”
Written by Cheo Hodari Coker
Directed by Paul McGuigan
This is my first time watching Luke Cage! And I’m going into this as blind as possible. I haven’t watched the full-length trailer, just the teaser, and I’ve read nothing about it. I’m trying out this new strategy where I not only avoid the spoilers, but also the spoiler-tastic full-length trailers of stuff I’m already psyched to watch. So here we go!
After what happened in Hell’s Kitchen, Luke is a fugitive and working two low-profile jobs to support himself. He’s trying to keep his head low. His landlady isn’t making things easier. Nor is his second boss, who won’t pay him yet. There’s a Harlem councilwoman and man named Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes hanging out in the upper room of the club Luke works at. They seem sleazy. Yep, sleazy. The councilwoman is cautious about working with criminals after what happened to Fisk. Ah, Cottonmouth’s a weapons dealer. Two kids from the barber shop where Luke works get themselves mixed up in the arms deal, shooting a bunch of Cottonmouth’s men and taking the bombs. Looks like Luke won’t be able to stay out of this. One of the kids shoots a crew member who seems likely to fold, and the other is very much regretting his involvement. Cottonmouth offers Luke a job. The kid who got shot is not dead. If he wasn’t going to fold before, he sure is now. Luke and the chick he was flirting with at the bar go have “coffee” at his place. Turns out she’s a detective, and she’s the one on the scene of the shootout. Cottonmouth learns about it too, and it’s causing huge trouble for his business. There’s someone called Diamondback involved in the deal, and Cottonmouth is a bit intimidated by him. He’s offscreen for now, though. Chico is now blowing his half of the money he and Shameek stole in a strip club. Ew. Shameek is being politely shown into Cottonmouth’s club, but the freaky sunglasses guy is on his tail, and Luke knows him from prison. Is his resolve to stay uninvolved breaking yet? Cottonmouth is not asking Shameek nicely for his money back. He’s beating him to death. The detectives find his body elsewhere, and the one who slept with Luke is super reluctant to go talk to him about what he knows. Some of the councilwoman’s thugs are trying to shake Luke’s landlady and her husband down for money. Luke steps in and politely tells them to show more respect. They don’t. So it’s time for a fight! It’s a very embarrassing fight for the thugs, though the last one promptly runs away. The landlady tries to hire Luke for protection or something, but he’s not interested.
Huh. Doing live reviews is hard. Since this is only the first episode, I could be wrong about these themes, but it seems like the show might be doing something about corruption in government and the upper class being even more sinister in a predominantly minority community, when the perpetrators are also minorities. I haven’t really thought about this before, but it’s fascinating. It seems like minorities tend to have a stronger bond with the members of their group than white people do, because white people haven’t experienced centuries of specifically targeted oppression that welded them together through shared struggle. Not that there aren’t groups of white people (or mostly white people) who haven’t had those kinds of experiences. Irish immigrants and their descendants were treated like garbage in the U.S., as were Jews, Catholics, and Mormons. When I meet other white people, I don’t expect to have a wealth of shared experience with them, but I definitely do when I meet other Mormons. It’s that sense of relief and instant camaraderie, even though I’d say I’ve only ever experienced minor discrimination myself. I imagine that bond is proportionately stronger based the duration of ancestral oppression and the degree of present discrimination. African Americans have this kind of bond, the bond of fellow sufferers. It’s extremely powerful, and for the two villains to be powerful black people who are taking advantage of this community is a major betrayal of that cultural bond.
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
The other major theme I think we’ll be dealing with this season is essentially “with great power comes great responsibility.” Luke desperately wants to be left alone, and he’s clearly been through hell already either because of his powers or in the process of acquiring them (or both), not to mention Kilgrave using him as his puppet against Jessica. But at nearly every turn in this episode, people around him were getting into trouble or creating trouble, and you can see the battle within him. If he helps people, then his cover is blown and the trouble will come down on him instead. If he doesn’t help them when he could have helped them, then their misfortune or their crimes are on him. This might actually be a dilemma that could be solved by a costume and a superhero name.
I like Pop and the landlady a lot. Hopefully they’ll end up being more significant characters. I’m not super keen on the detective lady because she’s interfering with my ship, but I do think it’s hilarious how reluctant she is to question Luke.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.