Luke Cage: Just to Get a Rep

"You can't control what people say. Just be the best man that you can be. And always make sure they spell your name right."

Harlem has a new hero. No, not Luke Cage, dummies. I'm talking about Claire "Boy did that guy pick the wrong purse to snatch" Temple!

Claire has quickly become one of the best things about this entire Defenders project, despite Rosario Dawson's frustratingly small amount of screentime. Many see her as the Nick Fury of these series, the one destined to bring all of these heroes together, which seems likely as so far she is the only who has connections to Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. It remains to be seen how she will be connected to Danny Rand/Iron Fist, but I'm assuming it will involve her saving his dumb ass.

Claire has been through a lot of crazy shit since that fateful night she found Matt Murdock's dumb ass bleeding to death in that dumpster. Ever since then she has become a magnet for New York's superpowered vigilantes and their problems. It has cost her apartment, her job, and even claimed the life of a friend. At first I thought she came home to Harlem to get away from all of that. For better or worse, home is the one place where everything feels normal. But Claire didn't come home to run away. She's decided that she's had enough of just reacting to all of the craziness that comes her way. If these vigilantes and their shit are going to keep finding her then she is damn well going to take charge of it.

Luke's attack on Fort Knox has left Cottonmouth virtually broke. As broke as someone who owns a successful nightclub and half a brownstone can be. While the loss of all that money is bad, it is nothing compared to the damage done to Cottonmouth's reputation. Like all gangsters, Cottonmouth thrives on fear. Fear is what put money in his pocket. Fear is what made him the king of his own little kingdom. And fear is what keeps the wolves at bay. Cottonmouth knows that the more Luke is allowed to challenge him the less people will fear him. But how do you deal with a man like Luke Cage? With his super strength and unbreakable skin there is not a damn thing they can do to him. Cottonmouth and his crew are no actual physical threat to Luke.

It was a smart move on Cottonmouth's part to try and turn the neighbourhood against its new hero. He put the squeeze on Harlem and told everyone if they had a problem with this they should talk to Luke Cage at the barber shop. If he couldn't get rid of Luke himself, he'd get the people to do it for him. History has repeatedly shown us that there is nothing more likely to drive away someone who is different than an angry mob. Unbreakable skin or no unbreakable skin, when the pitchforks come out it is time to bolt.

So why didn't it work? Cottonmouth's big mistake was to completely underestimate Luke's heroic streak. He didn't see Luke a hero. He saw him as nothing more than another player in town to take his crown. He never considered that Luke would actually take time out of his day, the day of Pop's memorial, to try to help all the people he'd sent his way. Rather than see Luke as the cause of their suffering, the neighbourhood now sees him as the solution. Cottonmouth has inadvertently made Luke Harlem's new go-to hero.

The question now is how long will it take for Cottonmouth to swallow his pride and ask Shades for one of those magic bullets? I knew it wouldn't be long before they introduced some way for the bad guys to take him down. It makes sense that a lot of advanced weaponry would be making its way onto the black market after the "Incident." A shitload of alien tech fell out of the sky that day and not all of it would have been swept up by S.H.I.E.L.D. Then again, knowing what we now know about S.H.I.E.L.D., maybe it was.

Notes and Quotes 

--Misty's captain was played by none other than Kima Greggs herself, Sonja Sohn. She's the fourth Wire alum to show up on the show after Frankie Faison, Michael Kostroff, and S. Robert Morgan. So far every one of Marvel's Netflix shows has had a Wire actor in them. Clarke Peters was in Jessica Jones, and Dominic Lombardozzi was in Daredevil. Should we start placing bets on who is going to be in Iron Fist?

--Claire's mama is a Derevko. That explains where she got her badassery from.

--Bobby Fish is quickly becoming one of my favourite characters. I loved that he saw seating all of Pop's various lady friends at the memorial as the ultimate chess match.

--It is rather convenient that Claire's home neighbourhood just happens to be the same one that that guy with unbreakable skin she helped that one time is currently living in. Oh, who am I kidding, this is Marvel Manhattan, where you can't walk two blocks without running into a superhero.

--Could they really not think of anything better than "the Incident" to describe Loki's invasion?

--Me when everyone kept putting bullet holes in Luke's new suit from Dapper Dan:

Blue: "Yo, I plead the eighth."
Luke: "You mean the fifth."
Blue: "Yeah, that shit."

Cottonmouth: "There he is. Dishwasher Lazarus."

Luke: "I don't want Harlem. I just want you to stop messing with it."

Three out of four damn fine suits.
Mark Greig is running out of ideas for funny things to say. More Mark Greig.


sunbunny said...

Claire Temple is the hero we deserve. Actually, she's not. We're not that good. Her running down the guy who stole her purse might just be my favorite moment of the entire series.

JRS said...

Is anyone else shipping Claire with Luke? Luclaire? Great review!

migmit said...

Yeeeeah! Claire! Now it got much better.

I wonder though: how does Luke fit into the world where there are Sokovia akkords? If even Hawkeye (who is just an especially well trained ordinary human) is considered a superhero, Luke surely should be too.

Billie Doux said...


I always really like scenes where all of the factions are behaving because they're in public. Cottonmouth stands up and says he loves Harlem and cared about Pop, and okay, maybe he does and did. I like how Luke got up and said his piece about Pop without directing anything angry at Cottonmouth, because it wouldn't have been appropriate. Mike Colter and Mahershala Ali are both awesome.

Mark, I also really liked the scene where Fish was untangling the funeral implications of Pop's love life on that chess board. I like Fish and I'm worried about him. Luke may be hard to kill, but Fish probably isn't.