Season 1, Episode 5: "Just to Get a Rep"
This episode has a hell of a lot more exposition than action, but after the last few action-packed episodes, it's nice to get back to the narrative.
Following Luke's attack on "Fort Knox", Cornell is officially broke. He responds by hatching a plan to shake down all of Harlem's businesses and tells his victims to go after Luke Cage for reparations. It's a cold war and Cornell is Russia. Once word gets out that the thugs are namedropping Luke, everyone in Harlem is after Luke to get their stuff back. He's reluctantly thrown into the role of the hero and diligently fetches all of the stolen belongings back, including a ring belonging to a ruined former ball player.
Shades tries to convince Cornell to cut his losses and sell Harlem's Paradise. Cornell refuses, and Luke confronts him in the club. They use their words like big boys, before Luke beats the crap out of all of Cornell's goons—Sidenote: why do people keep trying to shoot this guy? It's a Sysyphian task. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES, GOONS. GOD! Shades takes a break from his time spent being a useless slimebag to recognize Luke Cage as Carl Lucas. He then explains who Carl is to Cornell, and mentions there's no way he could have survived—but says there's a bullet for everyone, and then shows Cornell footage of a bullet that drills through Kevlar. Shades tells Cornell that the bullets are available through one of two ways—you pay for it, or you ask Diamondback to handle it for you. He also mentions to Cornell that if Diamondback does him this favor, he's taking Harlem from Cornell.
Claire Temple is here! I was waiting for Rosario Dawson to show up in this show. Her character is one of my favorites in the Netflix Marvel universe—her character arc is incredibly interesting, and even in a show full of superheroes, this nurse is probably one of the strongest characters across the three series. She's back home in Harlem, so we get to see a softer, more personal side of Claire, and her interactions with her Mom are a delightful bit of brightness in a dark show. She comes home after the events in Daredevil Season 2, with a goal to help people with "abilities".
Back at the precinct, Misty is informed that Detective Mayonnaise is under investigation for corruption. Every time he's onscreen I get so angry. I really hope he gets shot up or put in prison or both. He's such a scuzz. And his smarmy little facial expressions give me Martin Shkreli vibes and I HATE HIM SO MUCH. He gets pulled away from the office by another corrupt cop to let him know he's under investigation, and that Cornell needs the guns that were locked away in the evidence locker. Turns out that's an easy job, since apparently half the cops in Harlem are on Cornell's payroll.
Cornell's dumb henchman Zip tries to shoot Luke Cage because he's a total idiot but he RUINS Luke's fancy new suit. He chokes Zip and takes the ring back and give it back to the athlete's daughter Ayesha. He runs into her Dad instead and gives him a pep talk. Then he goes into the barber shop and looks angrily at the holes in his shirt. THAT WAS A REALLY NICE SHIRT YOU RUINED, ZIP. DAPPER DAN FITTED LUKE FOR IT HIMSELF. WHY YOU GOTTA FUCK THINGS UP, ZIP? DAMN. He sees Ayesha at the funeral and makes her take her hand out of her purse and then squishes the gun in her purse before giving her the ring back.
The funeral starts and Cornell texts Detective Mayo while he's at church asking if he has his merch and Detective Mayo doesn't respond and I cannot stop hating this smug little man.
Cornell gives a big fancy, Trump-esque speech at Pop's funeral with the context being that Harlem is awesome and foreign interlopers with "arcane" abilities are a threat to Harlem. Luke makes another speech after that saying he doesn't believe in Harlem, he believes in people, throwing massive shade on Cornell in the process, and holy shit he won that speech. HE WON THE FUNERAL, YOU GUYS. I didn't know funerals were a contest, but hot damn I'm bringing my A-game when Great Aunt Mildred croaks.
—I feel like Shades is playing everyone against each other. Dude is a total slimeball.
—Luke Cage in a suit is giving me all types of feelings.
—I will never get sick of the soundtrack. I am consistently blown away by how good the music in this show is. Harlem is a hotbed for musical talent, and Luke Cage highlights that with a vengeance.
—Misty is starting to get on my nerves. I like her attitude, but for someone who's supposed to be able to see things, she's misguided as hell.
BODY COUNT: 1
Luke and Cornell were too busy sniping at each other with words to make with the shootin'.