To be honest, I could not wait t0 jump back into the series after the phenomenal first episode, and I was not disappointed by the two episodes that followed. We delved into more of Luke’s journey to heroism as he dealt with the continued fallout of the drug heist, and explored the other characters around him more, especially Misty Knight, who is essentially his police counterpart.
Throughout these episodes we saw Pops send Luke to find Chico and attempt to make a deal with Cottonmouth (using the neutrality of his Barbershop to keep Cottonmouth at bay), we saw Chico return to Pops after meeting with Luke, and then we saw Luke quit his job at Cottonmouth’s Harlem Paradise club while giving Pop’s terms regarding Chico to the gangster. As we kind of predicted would happen, Cottonmouth’s men found out that Chico was at the barbershop and went to collect him, even after Cottonmouth himself said he would go to Pop’s the next day to deal. They shoot up the Barbershop as soon as they see Chico, and because Pops was giving a haircut to a kid, Luke is forced to shield the child instead of Pop’s during the hail of bullets. Of course Luke and the kid survive, but Chico is badly wounded and Pops himself dies in Luke’s arms, making the hero promise to “always move forward.” I kind of figured from the beginning that Pop’s death was going to be the catalyst to get Luke to become a hero, and I am very happy they got it over with early so we can actually see Luke in action.
So after learning that he needs cash to save the barbershop, Luke decides to hit two birds with one stone and start hitting all of Cottonmouth’s cash reserves, in an excellent montage he becomes the mysterious hooded man taking down gangsters but never killing anyone. When Cottonmouth and Mariah decide to move all the money to their “Fort Knox,” her office in the Crispus Attucks community center, Luke is ready for them, almost immediately hitting the center and taking all of Cottonmouth’s money, and then giving it to the cops, leaving the gangsters penniless.
Misty meanwhile, after having learned that Luke worked at Pop’s place (and also giving away the fact that she is a police detective) is heartbroken over Pop’s death, and tries even harder to take down Cottonmouth, but finds no luck getting any information from Chico who is recuperating in the hospital. She is very suspicious of Luke who survived the bullets at Pop’s place and suspects he is the hooded man robbing Cottonmouth. Soon enough Chico is ready to talk but Misty’s partner Scarfe gets to him first, revealing his allegiance to Cottonmouth and killing the youth before he can rat out the criminals. Next, Scarfe informs Cottonmouth that Luke Cage is the hooded man taking his money, and gives him Luke’s address. Cottonmouth arrives on a nearby rooftop just as Luke is sitting down to dinner in the Chinese Restaurant with his landlady Connie. Luke hands her his missing rent (taken from the gangster cash), and then panics as he sees something hurtling toward the building. It is a rocket shot out of Cottonmouth’s bazooka, and while Luke tries to protect Connie, the entire building crumbles down on top of them, trapping them beneath the debris.
I loved the action in these episodes, and the cliffhanger endings, even if the story structure was a little odd. Starting the 2nd episode with Luke about to attack the Crispus Attucks center and then cutting back, and then going back to that scene at the end of the episode seemed very weird to me, especially as the episode ended with Luke heading inside to finally attack the building, which we did not actually see until Episode 3. Just kind of a strange tease, and one I’d be more annoyed with if I had to wait for these episodes on a weekly basis (thank you Netflix and binge watching!). I like that we are seeing a lot of Misty’s character, and her “superpower” of being able to imagine how everything went down at a crime-scene based on the pictures, but I wonder if those shots are meant more metaphorical or if she can actually conjure up the entire scene like what we see. And I am liking the relationship between Mariah and Cottonmouth, and their dichotomy, neither one really believing themselves to be in the wrong, both working in their own way to make Harlem better, yet neither really owning up to the bad things they are doing to get what they want for their community. I am also looking forward to seeing how things play out power-wise between them, as Cottonmouth seems to think he is in charge, but it is easy to see the power Mariah has, and how she could potentially be an even worse villain than Cottonmouth if she fully broke bad.
See you back here soon for a recap of Episodes 3 and 4!