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LUKE CAGE Recap: Luke Gets Hands-On in Harlem

LUKE CAGE Recap: Luke Gets Hands-On in Harlem

Warning: This is a recap, and as such, contains spoilers for the Luke Cage episode, “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?” Get out of dodge if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

“Forward, always.”

Luke’s size and stature make him an intimidating mass, but when he’s on a mission? Some other force takes over. Mike Colter‘s brought the character through a wide spectrum of emotions since the series started two whole episodes ago—frustration, passion, rage, sadness. In “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?” (all the episode titles are titles of Gang Starr songs, by the way), Colter brings a whole new ferocity to the character. Determination is a strong motivator, and Luke Cage wears it on his sleeve and uses it to help him bust up Harlem.

But let’s backtrack. Losing Pop was enough to push Luke into action, but Cottonmouth also (inadvertently) helped. He was arrogant and mean when he ran into Luke at the funeral home. Though Cornell didn’t directly order Pop’s death, he was indirectly tied to it—it was his man that disobeyed orders and pulled the trigger. Yet, Cornell didn’t show any remorse to Luke. Part of his bravado might have been show, but I’m not convinced; he seems the type who could wholly separate himself and his responsibility when he wants to. Cornell even found an occasion to deliver a chilling, borderline maniacal laugh—It was one of those moments when I considered how improbable it is for Cottonmouth to be an effective villain, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t all work.

Fueled by his interaction with Cottonmouth, Luke decided to both injure Cottonmouth’s operations while gaining the cash necessary to keep Pop’s open and running. Who else would he turn to but Chico? Yeah, the kid survived the spray of bullets (life’s not fair, and with a little persuasion and carefully applied guilt, Luke convinced Chico to give up info on Cornell’s safe house—this right after Chico refused to share any info about Cottonmouth to the police.

While I’m thrilled Chico’s information led to Luke jumping into some smashtastic action, how the heck did Chico have so much intel? Even if Dante was stupid enough to tell Chico about every safe house, when did that happen? I also have a hard time imagining Dante was high enough in the ranks to have so many details about Cottonmouth’s operation.

That gripe aside, it was rewarding to watch Luke embrace his powers and eff up Cornell’s stashes around Harlem. We haven’t seen much demonstration of Luke’s abilities so far, and this was one hit after another. He threw thugs around as Charles Bradley performed “Ain’t It a Sin” in Harlem’s Paradise, and the smooth music set played off Luke’s punches like a charm. Luke played the game, though, too; He left all the money, but spooked Cornell into moving all his funds to his fortress, the Crispus Attucks building.

At about this point, I started to wonder how fights would continue to play out since Luke has one go-to: brute force. He doesn’t know fancy moves like Daredevil: he knows how to be an immovable wall. I was concerned it might get boring, but it doesn’t. If nothing else, the people fighting against and reacting to Luke’s toughness provide constant entertainment because they are always bewildered. It makes the action scenes an absolute blast.

While Luke is leaving crushed weapons and crumbled concrete around the neighborhood, Misty is starting to suspect something’s up. Simone Missick owns the character and portrays her with confidence and so much sass. Misty has a different way of looking at things, and she’s noticed all of the recent terrible activities have a common denominator named Luke Cage. Her partner doesn’t see what she sees. Scarfe’s interesting, too. His golly gosh appearance and attitude is a superficial mask; his initial interactions with Chico proved his capability. Later, they also proved he’s in Cottonmouth’s pocket. Ugh. A dirty cop. That’s a plot point I could have done without.

Scarfe’s talk with Chico (before the whole murdery part) revealed Luke’s role in the safe house invasions. Luke waited until all Cornell’s millions of dollars were moved to Crispus Attucks, popped in some headphones and blasted Wu-Tang Clan, and launched into a ruckus. A countless number of bullets flew at our hero and destroyed his hoodie, and—of course—he kept going. He punched, he broke hands with his skin, and my personal favorite: he ripped a pipe of the freaking wall and wielded it like a bat. I can’t even imagine the amount of property damage he did. The timing of the scene was spot on, too, because we needed a win after the loss of Pop. Heck, everyone did.

If we thought we saw Cottonmouth angry before, hoo: we had no idea of the raw edge that would come out when he killed in the first episode would be multiplied by a million over the loss of most of his money. He’s out of control, and he’s not the type of person you want to spin out of control …as evidenced by him shooting a rocket launcher at Luke while he was eating at his landlord’s restaurant. That was over the top but yet fitting for Cottonmouth’s extreme personality; it was silly and crazy and just right for the tone of the series so far.

Stray thoughts:

  • How is that Luke never talked to Bobby about his connection to Pop? If he’s around the shop so often, you’d think they would have talked more.
  • I haven’t talked enough about Mariah. She might not be calling the shots and she certainly doesn’t want to be associated with them, but I’ll be damned if she’s not as chilling as Cottonmouth. Her righteousness is a thing to behold. She truly believes she can transform Harlem with her renaissance project; she’s said her polished lines so many times that she’s convinced what’s she’s selling is true. However, she’s lost sight of the right road to get there and she knows it. She’s scrambling, and a desperate person is a dangerous person.

How did you react to Luke smashing the Crispus Attucks building to bits? Do you think he’s in over his head. Let me know your thoughts in the comments or come talk to me on Twitter.

Images: Netflix

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