It’s finally here! All 13 episodes of Luke Cage dropped on Netflix on September 30th. As promised, the show is begin recapped here at Zeitgeist Entertainment. And since all of the episodes were released at once, we’re going to do things a little differently; the show will be recapped in two parts – the first 6 and then the last 7 episodes. So here it is! Part 1 of our recap!
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.
Episode 1 – Moment of Truth
The woman in the barber shop trying so hard to flirt with Luke and get his attention was hilarious. I was not seeing things in Jessica Jones; he really is a chick magnet.
Why did Misty make it so painfully obvious that she was watching Cottonmouth? Even after Luke pointed out that he was well aware of her trying to bore a hole into Cottonmouth’s head with her eyes, she still didn’t do it anymore subtly. She sucks at being discreet.
I was a little miffed at her flirting with Luke because, in my mind, he and Jessica belong together and I really want to see their relationship – baby and all – make it to the Netflix series. Neither of them can have their own shows at that point, though. But their flirting was fun to watch nonetheless.
Misty also made a nonsensical decision, in my opinion, when she showed up at the aftermath of the shooting; a crime scene involving criminals who work for the crime boss whose club she had just the night before been in and very obviously staring at. If she is going undercover at the club – or at all – shouldn’t she not be in the field doing police work and risk being seen and found out?
On the topic of the shooting, Shameek royally screwed up when he shot Dante. His plan backfired spectacularly because shooting Dante so he wouldn’t snitch is what made Dante snitch in the first place. He really didn’t think that through.
Mariah, you and Cottonmouth shouldn’t be seen in public together. You said that yourself. Follow your own instructions.
Also, her rhetoric concerning “keep Harlem Black” sounds an awful lot like the rationalisations white supremacists have used to justify continued use of the Confederate flag. She also sounds like Donald Trump. It seems like what she really wants is segregation.
Stemming off of that, the moment I saw the men that gave Luke the “New Harlem Renaissance” flyer I knew they would be trouble later. Not as immediately as they turned out to be trouble though. I expected a through line in the series to be how Mariah has inspired Black people in Harlem to proudly display their racial prejudices the same way Donald Trump has for white supremacists and xenophobes everywhere. I found it interesting that the people they decided to “tax” for said “renaissance” were Asian; the minority within the minority.
- The TV shows always reference you MCU films. Can’t you return the love?
- Am I the only one who found it weird how Mariah was touching everyone’s hair?
- Hero for hire reference!
Episode 2 – Code of the Streets
The moment Pops said he wanted to save Chico I knew he was going to die. Then the show doubled-down on the “this character is going to die” signals by giving his backstory. Anytime a character who isn’t the lead gets their backstory explored like that, chances are they’re gonna die. His fate was sealed.
His backstory was interesting though and I didn’t expect it. I thought he’d been a nice, upstanding citizen his entire life. It also made me question Cottonmouth’s age since he is apparently old enough to be Chico’s father; seeing as he started his criminal career with him. I thought he was in his thirties but now it looks like he’s closer to his late forties or early fifties. Black don’t crack.
I was equally relieved and frustrated when Chico refused to go with Luke; I didn’t want him to go because if he does Pops will die but I wanted him to go because he would have been safe if he did. In the end though I would have preferred Chico to die over Pops.
I loved the banter between Luke and Misty when he basically confronted her in the barber shop. They were not being as subtle as they thought they were. Everyone else knew what was going there.
The thirsty mother from episode one returned and continued to try, in earnest, to catch Luke’s eye. Who can blame her though?
I have no idea what Tone was trying to prove by going against Cottonmouth’s orders (Who disobeys Cottonmouth? Did he not know who he was working for?). I actually had hope that Pops wouldn’t die since Cottonmouth gave specific instructions to leave the shop alone, but that was just the writers giving false hope. Of course Pops died. Because we can’t have nice things. And we got an Uncle Ben moment to boot.
His dying was important to the story and plot, however; it was the catalyst that led Luke to going into the business of superheroism.
I softened to Cottonmouth a bit when he said he would pay to rebuild the barber shop. It demonstrated that he still cared for and respected Pops and it humanised him a little. The man has feelings and some modicum of honour.
I knew Tone was going to die the second he disobeyed. I was quite taken aback when Cottonmouth didn’t kill him simply for his disobedience. I thought he was crueler than that. But it was a nicer touch and a key character moment that Pops being killed is what made Cottonmouth do it.
- “Coffee” is the new “sex.” This show is going to make that happen.
- Why are you salty Misty? You’re the one that lied.
- This show is so Black! Love it!
Episode 3 – Who’s Gonna Take the Weight
I wasn’t all that enthused about this show when I finished the first episode but it’s steadily getting better and more engaging. Mostly because Luke is active now and not sitting around hiding and being a bystander. Pops dying probably was the best thing that could have happened for the show; it’s really pushed it forward. I didn’t expect the show to basically be a revenge story. That’s an interesting direction. I appreciate that they took three episodes to set up the plot instead of cramming it all into one episode.
The montage of Luke beating up Cottonmouth’s goons was too funny. He is so strong that when he hits them they just fly across the room like they weigh nothing and he doesn’t even need to hit them that hard.
Mariah has started to sound more and more like a xenophobe. Granted, her cause is honourable for the most part but she has essentially singled out a particular race and positioned it as superior. It feels like she is disguising her prejudice by hiding it behind a legitimate cause and using said cause to further said prejudice and exploiting the feelings of the community in the process. But I don’t think she is aware that that is what she is doing. I think she believes she is genuine. But her speech tells a different story.
Misty’s increasing antagonism toward Luke is getting really annoying. I understand her being suspicious after the shoot out but she went from that to hostile. In fact, she was hostile from the moment she saw him in the barber shop and hasn’t let up since. Am I the only one who thinks her behaviour toward Luke is a tad unreasonable?
Luke’s attack on Crispus Attucks was fun and cool and amazing. He was basically a tank. There was no shortage of laugh out loud moments; wrapping the car door around one guy, barely chucking another and him flying through the wall and of course, the couch.
I was very disappointed when it was revealed that Scarfe works for Cottonmouth. I really liked him; he was charismatic and funny and all around incredibly likable. It was sad to see Chico be killed, as much as I blamed him for Pops’ death. It seemed like he was about to turn his life around. And but that point there was no real reason to have him killed.
I did not expect Cottonmouth to retaliate so swiftly and so grandly. A rocket launcher? Really?
- You should really wear gloves Luke.
- You and Cottonmouth are the tiny birds. Fisk is the crocodile.
- But where did he get a rocket launcher?
Episode 4 – Step in the Arena
In this episode we got Luke – I mean Carl’s, backstory.
Luke Cage is not his real name; it’s Carl Lucas. Other viewers who are familiar with the comics would have known this already but I didn’t. I don’t read the comics and I didn’t do any research about them beforehand. So it was surprising to find out “Luke Cage” is an alias. Although given that he is on the run, it should’ve been obvious that he wouldn’t be using his real name.
The episode did not go where I thought it would in terms of how Luke got his powers. I assumed that Rackham wanted Luke for the experiment, not for the Mandingo fights. I thought that the experiments were was some kind of super soldier programme type business, which used the prison for test subjects instead of volunteers. (Again, I didn’t read the comics). So I was a bit confused when it went there.
His obsession with Luke was very disturbing, as were the lengths he was willing to do to in order to get him to be his pit bull. He did not see Luke or any of the other prisoners as human. Before it occurred to me that the organised fights were the same thing as the Mandingo fights from Django Unchained, they were reminiscent of dog and cock fights. I think those are parallels the show’s creators obviously wanted the audience to draw; it highlighted the dehumanisation of Luke, who only became increasingly bestial the more he fought.
The moment those two inmates found Luke and Squabbles in conversation, I knew that their plan to stop the fights would not happen. I was surprised and saddened that Alvarez and Comanche were actually able to beat him. After all of the training he had done with Squabbles, even if they said they held back the first time they beat him, I figured he was good enough to take them on and win.
I never believed Reva didn’t know about the experiments. We as the audience already knew that they were going on but I didn’t think she said they weren’t going on because she was unaware of it – in the same way that she was unaware of the Mandingo fights. So it came as no shock to me when she told Dr. Burstein to do it to Luke.
I am not sorry that in meddling with the experiment in an attempt to kill Luke, Rackham ended up killing himself.
I love the way they worked in his classic costume. He looked ridiculous and I am glad he said it. This is why super hero costumes don’t always need to accurate to the comic books. Some of them just don’t work on screen.
- Luke has hair!
- Luke has more hair!
- RIP Squabbles.
- They got coffee!
Episode 5 – Just to Get a Rap
Luke has officially run out of f*cks to give.
Not only did he announce himself on TV last episode (that just has to come back and bite him in the ass; he’s a man on the run). But he just used his powers, out in the open, digging through the rubble of his old apartment, with people taking photos and/or video of him from the sidelines. Not a care in the world. And of course Misty showed up. Genuinely surprised she didn’t use the opportunity to berate him like she always does. She made up for it later though.
I get what her problem with Luke is, but really; what is her problem? And who does she think she is to order him to stay away from Pops’ memorial?
Cottonmouth ran out of f*ucks to give too. He really started to unravel this episode.
I flip flop between liking and disliking Cottonmouth. Sometimes I like him because he clearly cared for and respected Pops and even though (or perhaps, especially because) he was responsible for his death he has sincerely tried to make amends. He also has a genuine love for Harlem and a desire to do what he thinks is best for his community. My heart starts to soften toward him. And then he does something despicable and that’s the end of that.
Sending his goons to attack the people and telling them it’s Luke’s fault so they could turn on him? Classic strategy. It backfired though.
In yet another hilarious montage of Luke beating up Cottonmouth’s henchmen (he slapped that dude upside his head!) he did what he always does; successfully subdue them. The community hardly hated him afterward. Not that the show demonstrated that in any case apart from Aisha. But Aisha is clearly a hot head. The second she appeared on screen at the funeral I knew she was going to try to shoot someone. I thought it would be the men that stole her father’s ring, but then Cottonmouth came in right behind her.
When Cottonmouth gave his speech and was getting applause it seemed like the community was going to buy his B.S. and get behind him. But when Luke spoke and got a standing ovation from everyone…in that moment Cottonmouth lost Harlem. He didn’t hurt Luke at all with his little scheme. In fact, he gave Luke the biggest opportunity to prove his worth to the community and he did that in spades.
Misty was entirely right; it has become a pissing contest between Luke and Cottonmouth but I still think that Luke’s efforts are for the best.
- How is Cottonmouth dead broke after losing $7 million? He could not have had been very rich.
- “I am the gun.” My reaction.
Episode 6 – Suckas Need Bodyguards
Cottonmouth is really, really starting to unravel.
Sure, Scarfe was an idiot for trying to squeeze him for money (does he not know who he is dealing with?!) but shooting Scarfe was even dumber. Dumber still was not shooting him again to make sure he was dead. He was the instrument of his own demise. Luke barely had to do anything to make him mess himself up. The more things crumble around Cottonmouth, the more reckless he becomes and the more mistakes he makes. Pull yourself together man!
I was a bit worried when Luke and Claire went into the barber shop and found a trail of blood. I thought someone had attacked Bobby, but it was only Scarfe. I’m not sure if he decided to give up Cottonmouth so that Luke would shelter him or if it was in retaliation to getting shot, but the characters in this show need to learn that shooting people only makes them snitch on you.
Mariah actually made a good point that I never thought of; Luke should be able to be killed by drowning or poisoning. Why did no one think of that? And for someone who was trying to project an image of warmth and kindness, she was quite snappy with that reporter, who I knew had been cooking up something. It was very clear that she didn’t like Mariah.
It doesn’t make sense to me that Mariah’s family connections aren’t widely known. She is a public figure whose grandmother and great uncle were “notorious” criminals and so is her cousin. How had no one before then linked them together when they are all well known figures individually?
Then the reporter had the guts to come back to Mariah after being kicked out and confront her about Cottonmouth’s arrest. I could see her getting murdered.
As much of an a-hole – he said it, not me – as he was it was still sad to see Scarfe die. Maybe because it affected Misty so much. But he was a loveable dirtbag.
Misty’s very own precinct proved her wrong; the system does not work. Even will all of the evidence they need to get Cottonmouth off of the streets, they will set him free for optics. And taking him down had been so easy! He messed himself up! I hope Misty comes to realise now that she needs Luke to take down Cottonmouth.
- Is Mariah crazy?
- Claire’s mother is ‘Best Mom.’
- She knows what coffee means!