Welcome back Claire Temple. The now former nurse who always seemed to be be caught up with super powered people has entered the world of Luke Cage. Following the events in Daredevil season two involving undead ninjas and losing her job in the process, Claire has returned home to Harlem. Though she does not interact with Luke in this episode, she knows that he is in the area due to the increased publicity that Luke has received following the previous episode. Claire has been touted as the character that will link all the Marvel Netflix shows together and it looks like another key piece of the puzzle has been laid out on the table.
But now that Luke has hurt Cottonmouth’s operations, Cottonmouth is broke and that makes him more dangerous. Knowing that he cannot kill Luke, Cottonmouth figures the best way to get rid of his problem is by having the people of Harlem do it. Extorting more than usual amounts and robbing people per the “Luke Cage tax”, the people are Harlem are none too happy about Luke. One person especially not happy is Misty Knight and with fair reason. She sees that the people of Harlem are suffering due to the war between Luke and Cottonmouth. It’s implied to be further complicated by Luke and Misty’s possible feelings for another. But Luke is still working for the people as we see that he owns up to potential problems caused by him and works to help those who are suffering because of him. Shades is also aware of who Luke Cage is now and just may have the weapon to beat him.
This episode is highlighted by the funeral for Pop. In it, we are given two eulogies delivered by Cottonmouth and Luke. We see the dichotomy between the two as Cottonmouth embraces the man that Pop used to be, someone who resorts to violence. Luke highlights the man that Pop died as, a man who made mistakes in his past but wanted to help the people of his community. The interesting thing is that common thread between the two as both men say that they want to help Harlem. But while Cottonmouth goes about it from a position of power, Luke wants to do it with the people. This scene really highlights both Mike Colter and Mahershala Ali as we’ve seen both men resort to violence but can be more tactful and charismatic when they have to be.
Another strong episode for Luke Cage. We’re finally starting to see the man and hero that Luke Cage is and feeling more comfortable both as a man and hero. We’re also starting to see the crumbling of Cottonmouth as he has never been challenged in this way. Gangsters are one thing but a bulletproof and super strong man that he knows nothing about is another thing. One can’t help but get the feeling that another shoe has to be dropped as this is only the fifth episode. Something big has to happen soon.