With the legacy of a loved community member looming over Harlem, Luke Cage and Cornell Stokes openly draw a line in the sand.
Beware the Spoilers
After Luke’s coming out party at the end of “Step in the Arena” Cornell is looking to turn the neighborhood against the new hero in town. He sends his goons hit everyone in Harlem to recoup some of the funds lost and calling it a “Luke Cage Stupidity Tax” hoping the citizens would become disappointed in their new proclaimed savior. What Cornell didn’t count on was Luke actually coming through for several persons in the neighborhood by tracking down the goon squad and taking back items of value that were stolen.
Having enough of Cornell’s ways, Luke decides to take the fight directly to him. He comes to Harlem’s Paradise to warn the club owner to stop messing with the people. As a show of force, Cornell has his men attack Luke, but the hero only shows off his invulnerability and Shades finally realizes who Luke really is.
The envoy for Diamondback fills in Cornell on the thorn in his side and shows him a possible solution. The “Judas” is a bullet made from Chitauri metal, can penetrate Kevlar, burrow itself further inside the body, and explode. The only two ways Cornell will be able to get ahold of this special shot is if he asks Diamondback to take care of Luke for him or pay the exorbitant price for one. Cornell wants to buy despite not having the cash thinking Diamondback will front him for it. Too many mistakes have cause the mysterious man to lose faith in King of Harlem. The only way he can get that trust back is to make nice with Domingo and get the guns meant to be sold out of police lock up.
Too bad Detective Scarfe has other plans. The crooked cop finds a way to get the guns out of lockup, but he is under investigation by IA and has decided working for the downward spiraling Cornell may no longer be worth it.
By the time everyone gets to the funeral of Pops, most of Harlem knows Luke’s name for better or worse and the beef he has with Cornell. Come time to say a few words about Pops, Cornell goes first to proclaim his innocence in the death of the loved figure. He names off the hip hop artists who have come from Harlem with irony given his tone deafness to the legacy of the genre and how it could help him win his neighborhood back. And finally, he promises to protect the neighborhood from “foreign interlopers and strangers with arcane abilities.” The irony strikes again seeing as he blew up half a building and robbed the citizens of their money because it suited him to do so. Several of the attendees agreed with Cornell as he is leaving the pulpit, even applaud him.
Luke takes his turn to speak about the legacy of Pops and Harlem. How the neighborhood has stopped being about looking out for everyone in favor of only taking care of number one. This attitude has poisoned Harlem. Pops was the kind of man who “saw the shine in everyone,” and chose to be the person who looked out for the people. Luke encourages everyone they must band together to do for each other what Pops did for them and stand against those who would do the neighborhood wrong, “especially if he calls himself a friend.” His rally cry is met with a standing ovation.
One citizen he helped asks him, “you are one of them?” “You mean someone who gives a damn?” Luke answers. Something that has struck me as really odd and very smart on the part of showrunner Cheo Coker is while Luke is a person with powers, the world he lives in is not one that really exists in the MCU. Sure, people make references to “The Incident” in New York and the various heroes from the movies and other TV shows, but this is about one man looking to make a difference in his neighborhood. He also just happens to have the ability to repel bullets and lift slabs of concrete over his head. So far no one else with abilities has shown themselves and the Sokovia Accords might as well be written on tinder paper. The rest of the world’s problems don’t matter to the citizens of Harlem. They are too busy dealing with their own.
Outside of the Luke verses Cornell drama, Claire Temple has returned home after being fired from her job at Metro-General. Her unwillingness to lie about a co-worker’s death forced the hospital to ruin her name and now she is unable to find employment elsewhere. Talking to her mother, she confesses what she wants to be the person who helps powered people. Seeing Luke on the news after he tunneled himself and Connie out of the rubble of their building, she finds her way to start being that person.
While there are some serious sparks between Misty Knight and Luke Cage, Claire makes more sense as a possible love interest for Luke. She will be the person who understands why he has to standup for others. She has seen the horrors out there. Misty may be right in her opinion the pissing contest between Luke and Cornell will put Harlem in the crossfire, but what she doesn’t understand is Harlem has been there for some time. Cornell strikes his fellow citizens with one hand and puts the other hand in their pockets telling them it is to protect them from the blows. Now Luke has shown himself as someone who is willing to stand up, it will be curious to see who will be with him, or with Cornell.
The episode opens with Jidenna’s “Long Live the Chief” being performed at Harlem’s Paradise. A great choice to help set the tone of the episode and serve as insight into Cornell’s mind.
As the episode progresses towards Pops’ funeral the music mellows into more bluesy melodies with John Lee Hooker’s “It Serves You Right to Suffer,” Lee Williams “It’s Everything About You,” and “Trouble of the World” by Mahalia Jackson.
What did you think about “Just to Get a Rep”? Are you excited about the buildup to Luke taking on Cornell? What do you think Cornell is going to do next not Scarfe is looking to betray him? Let me know in the comments section below and please do not post spoilers for future episodes, not everyone gets to binge. Come back tomorrow for “Suckas Need Bodyguards” and click here for all of the Luke Cage episode breakdowns.