“Code of the Streets”
Written by Cheo Hodari
Directed by Cheo Hodari Coker
Luke has a gun to his head! And the punk holding it doesn’t care that they’re standing in front of an important black history building. But we don’t get to find out what that’s about yet. In the precinct, the detective lady (whose name is Misty) is walking herself through what happened in the shooting. She thinks it was personal. Presumably before the gun-to-head situation, Luke is at Pop’s, and they’re chatting about urban fiction. Seems Pop’s been visited by the thugs shaking people down for money. Or not. His place is neutral territory. Then again, Shades and Cottonmouth come strolling right in. For shaves. It’s very tense, but they don’t make trouble. Pop wants Luke’s help keeping Chico safe. Misty visits a local basketball court to ask about Chico. Luke is on the case too. He finds Chico first, but Chico doesn’t want to come with him. The councilwoman is getting antsy for the money. Pop tells Luke his story. Luke seems more willing to contemplate heroism. Chico shows up. Pop chews him out, then hugs him. Turk spots him, and then Misty and her partner arrive. Luke does his best to make her feel uncomfortable for lying to him about who she is. Pop has Luke go to meet with Cottonmouth about Chico. He manages to arrange the parley. However, Turk tells Cottonmouth’s men he saw Chico at Pop’s, so they’re on their way over with guns. They shoot up Pop’s shop. Pop dies in Luke’s arms after they leave, and Chico gets taken to the hospital. Tone, the one responsible for jumping the gun, goes to brag about it to Cottonmouth (who super doesn’t like being called that). When Cottonmouth hears Pops is dead, he throws Tone off the roof. Mariah (the councilwoman) isn’t happy about it, but she doesn’t back out. Misty can’t wrap her head around how Luke survived. Luke’s sitting in his apartment holding Pop’s swear jar and the thugs’ flier. Cottonmouth is crying over Pop. We finally catch up to the kid with a gun to Luke in front of the Crispus Attucks complex. He yells at the kid, then shoots himself in the stomach just to show the kid what he’s dealing with. The kid flees.
I’m pretty confident I was onto something with my theory about one of the show’s main focuses being the heinousness of a community like Harlem being taken advantage of by members of that community. It’s no coincidence that the villains are operating out of a building with the name Crispus Attucks on the side. That’s some seriously sleazy wolf in sheep’s clothing crap right there, hiding behind the name of someone who represents both patriotism and anti-slavery.
Things I Liked
Things I Didn’t
Luke is from Georgia! Cool. And he’s some kind of former detective? He’s even more perfect a match for Jessica. I don’t have words for how much I love Luke’s generally even-keeled attitude. Provided no one’s calling him racial slurs, his attitude is usually the same as in that gif from Jessica Jones when he just rolls his eyes after a dude smashes a bottle over his head. I also love how laconic he is. That’s seriously one of my favorite character traits, when someone never wastes a word.
Mariah is fascinating. I get the feeling that she’s a bit of an elitist snob, but other than that, she probably wouldn’t be very corrupt if she wasn’t Cottonmouth’s cousin. But being his cousin is something she can’t help, and I think she’s decided she might as well get something out of that family connection.
The title of this episode, “Code of the Streets,” is largely about how Cottonmouth operates. He might be a crime lord, but he respects institutions of his community, and he genuinely cares about Pop. He respects the “Switzerland” of his shop. And he is 100% convinced that what his ancestors suffered makes it his right to gain power by any means necessary. It makes sense, and I like how he quotes the Bible—but only the Old Testament. He’s stuck back in eye for an eye and never moved on to turn the other cheek and love thy neighbor.
So...Pop is the Uncle Ben of this story. Full of excellent wisdom, and his death gives the hero motivation to start acting like one, but also temptation to just pursue vengeance. He pretty much could have been the Father Lantom or the Uncle Ben. I was hoping he’d be the Father Lantom, but alas, no.
Misty is a lot more interesting than I would’ve thought from episode 1. She’s an excellent detectivewith her own cool way of thinking through crime scenes, and she’s deeply connected to the Harlem community, familiar with all the established people and with her name painted on the basketball court. Congratulations, show, you just made me like a character who is competition for my ship.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.