“Just to Get a Rep”
Written by Jason Horwitch
Directed by Marc Jobst
We open on a montage of another singer at Cottonmouth’s club (Cottonmouth is not happy), Luke digging through the rubble to retrieve the swear jar, and Claire running down and beating up a dude who mugs her. Cottonmouth is having a “board” meeting. He’s completely broke of his liquid assets. When one dude suggests leaving Luke Cage alone, Cottonmouth shoots him in the head, then orders his men to go shake down every business on Lenox Avenue for money and blame Luke Cage. We get another montage of all the shakedowns and the money piling up on Cottonmouth’s table. They smash up a sporting goods shop and steal a ring that belonged to the father of the girl who runs the place. A World Series ring.
The chess guy helps Luke get fitted for a nice suit. A nice suit. He also bequeaths Luke Pop’s apartment above the barber shop. The girl whose dad’s ring was stolen comes and pokes Luke in the chest and demands he fix the damage. Misty and her partner might have an issue with his methods. Cottonmouth refuses to sell the club for money, despite Shades’ advice. Luke strolls right into the club. He beats up several guys, and Shades finally recognizes him. Claire tells her mom what happened at Metro General. Her mom tells her she got mixed in it because of fate. Shades catches Cotonmouth up on Carl Lucas. Also, he has access to bullets made out of Chitauri metal, which can possibly hurt Luke. But they are costly. Diamondback won’t just hand over the bullets. Cottonmouth has to fix things first. The police captain and another detective warn Misty that Scarfe is dirty. She waves it off, but definitely starts looking at him differently. But she’s going to the funeral.
Luke finds the guy who has Aisha’s ring, squishes his gun, holds him off the ground by the throat, and takes the ring back. Seems Cottonmouth has at least two other cops on payroll, because they help Scarfe get Domingo’s Hammertech merchandise out of lockup. Aisha’s dad tells Luke not to bother about the ring. He talks about how baseball goes from father to son, which is why there aren’t as many black baseball players left. Time for the funeral. Cottonmouth texts Scarfe about the Hammertech merch, and Scarfe opts not to reply. Holy crap. Pop’s son gives the eulogy, and Luke talks Aisha down so she won’t do something extremely stupid in the middle of the funeral. Cottonmouth decides to say a few words. He says some words, and then Luke says some words about how Pop saw the best in everyone who came to his shop. He uses Aisha’s ring as an object lesson. The crowd likes Luke’s speech much better than Cottonmouth’s. Standing ovation. The funeral ends. Misty is not happy with Luke’s apparent inclination to start a war against Cottonmouth.
Settings are very important in this show. Cottonmouth can’t let go of Harlem’s Paradise. It belonged to his grandmother. It’s big and impressive, and it stands as a symbol of his heritage and his power. Luke can’t let go of Pop’s barber shop. It belonged to someone important to him (and related to Reva), and though it looks perfectly ordinary, even forgettable, it’s an extremely significant place for everyone in Harlem. It’s the symbol of all that is good in Harlem. It’s potential, not to be important, but to be worthwhile. Cottonmouth accuses Luke of meddling in business that doesn’t concern him because he isn’t from Harlem, but Luke clearly understands its soul better than Cottonmouth does.
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Now that Luke’s name is out there, he wants to make sure it’s not dragged through the dirt, but like he says at Pop’s funeral, that’s only part of it. He cares about the people of Harlem, and he cares about keeping Harlem safe enough that they are able to make the most of themselves. You don’t have to be born somewhere or to grow up there for it to become your home.
Misty is a Harlem girl. This is her home. It’s not just that she doesn’t approve of vigilantes and believes in the system, it’s that everything is at stake for her if Luke and Cottonmouth’s war gets out of hand. Luke is going to have to be very careful.
Claire is apparently also a Harlem girl! I hope she has a ton of screentime for the rest of the season. This is awesome. So far, I think she’s the only character to be in all three shows.
Cottonmouth laughs when he’s angry. I’m starting to get very nervous whenever he laughs. And holy crap, I have no idea where this is going to go for the remaining eight episodes. The hero and the villain are already fully aware of each other and confronting each other in their home bases! It’s startlingly out in the open compared to pretty much anything else I’ve seen. I can’t wait to see how this plays out.
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.