Luke Cage S1Ep2 – Code of the Streets

Well, out of respect for Pop’s Swear Jar, I’m going to have to say, “Shoot” or maybe “Gosh darn it all.” Because even though I saw Pop’s death coming as soon as we met him, I did not expect nor want him to go so soon! RIP.

Another thing I didn’t expect: to like Shades better than Cottonmouth’s actual right hand man, Tone. Shades didn’t want Pop or any innocents to get hurt, while Tone just cared about the statement it would make to totally destroy the place where Cottonmouth’s enemy, Chico, had been hiding. Now, based on Luke’s consistent reaction to the guy, I’m still not going to end up liking Shades very much. But still. That’s something.

"Ladies first."

Effortlessly cool.

Also, Cottonmouth himself feels like a more… well, maybe not sympathetic, but slightly more human villain than either Wilson Fisk or Kilgrave. The latter two (from Netflix’s previous Marvel shows) are indisputably crazy. They had their moments of humanization, to be sure. But I don’t think the scene where Stokes privately mourns for Pop, complete with actual tears, could have happened with either of them. Relatedly, I’m predicting a real blow-up between Cornell and Mariah at some point. They do respect each other, but I don’t think they can despise each others’ means of business as much as they do without it really coming between them soon.

Detective Misty Knight, on the other hand, continues to be pretty solid awesome. I loved her confident competition with the kid on the basketball court, and I loved that she won. And I’m glad she was both able to have a normal-ish conversation with Luke once the two of them learned who they really were, and also that she saw the, er, literal holes in Luke’s story after the shooting. (Her partner thus far gives decent banter, but hasn’t made nearly as much of an impression.)



Luke has also been awesome. (Not surprising!) The reluctant superhero is not exactly a brand-new idea, but Luke brings a great deal of sympathy to it here. It’s not that he’s afraid to be involved, and he’s not even particularly selfish. It feels more like he simply doesn’t want to get involved in something so big, that he isn’t sure how much good he can do. Despite his own self-recrimination at the end, I don’t think he has much to be ashamed of. Sure, he could have come to Harlem and started going after bad guys immediately, but now he knows the situation more fully, so he can be more purposeful and accurate.

I’m intrigued to see how Luke will keep moving forward, as he promised a dying Pop, now that Stokes fired him and the barber shop is destroyed. He’s seen Mariah Stokes with the blood money from the heist. He’s also ready to stop lying down, as he told the kid at the end of the episode in that amazing speech. Of course I can’t wait for more super-strength, invincibility awesomeness!