Luke Cage Recap: S1E2 “Code of the Streets”


Forward always, Luke Cage gets emotional in its second episode all about power and legacy.

There is something very tense about watching someone shave a man with a straight edge razor. There is always this moment, this delicate balance where the person with the razor pauses and you think, “Are they going to do it? It would be so easy.” In episode 2 of Luke Cage, Pop may have the razor, but Cottonmouth is the one with all the power. Cottonmouth, Shades, and Tone walk into the barbershop like they own the place and in a way, they do. They own everything in Harlem.

Image via Netflix

Power in this episode comes in many forms. There’s the power of information, with everyone looking to find out just exactly where Chico- and the rest of the money from the gun sale are. There is the power of Pop in his leadership role in the community. And then there is actual power like that held by Cottonmouth over the city. In one of the most memorable lines of the episode he tells Mariah, “You know what people remember besides black martyrdom? Black money.” To him power means respect and control over those around him. It’s why he kills Tone near the end of the episode, Tone tried to take matters into his own hands and you don’t deviate from Cottonmouth’s plan.

Luke has power in the physical sense, but also in his convictions.  By the end of the episode, the controlled, zen Luke we’ve seen so far is gone, replaced by a man who is ready to take a stand. In a shootout at the barbershop Tone hits Chico and kills Pop in the crossfire. This ldeath is devastating to Luke, who has already lost so many people in his life. Pop was a good man, a man who did something to better his community and turn his life around. Luke was just trying to stay out of trouble. It looks like that’s going to change after this episode though.

Another thing that is going to change is Luke’s relationship with Misty. What started out as a hot and heavy dalliance, turned cold when Luke found out that Misty was not an auditor, but a detective. The best part about this is that Misty doesn’t apologize for lying to Luke. She doesn’t even to seem to feel bad. Misty owns who she is and her decisions which for a woman, especially a woman of color, is pretty powerful.

Misty is no ordinary superhero love interest. She has a life and career outside of her involvement with Luke. One of the best scenes is Misty showing off her skills on the basketball court in order to get information from some local kids. She has a history in Harlem, one that I suspect will be revealed more and more as the series goes on.

History plays an important role in the end of the episode as Luke stares out at the Crispus Attucks apartment building where Mariah’s campaign headquarters are housed. Attucks, Luke reminds us was a free man, the first man to die for America when we were still just a colony during the Boston Massacre. Like Cottonmouth’s conversation with Mariah about the names that end up on buildings and even the use of the Biggie poster in the office, this is a story about legacy and the price of leaving your mark. Luke is a part of this now too, not only in the show, but as a figure. His legacy and what he means as a hero is changing even now with this show and the changes made from the original comics. Only time will tell for us all what gets remembered.

We end episode two with Luke looking like he’s ready for a fight. The only question is: who is his first victim?

Next: Luke Cage Recap: S1E1 “Moment of Truth”

Stray Observations & Easter Eggs

  • Shades: I just got home. Luke: College?
  • Turk thinks Hell’s Kitchen is safer than Harlem, but maybe because there are two vigilantees living there?
  • Luke Cage Book Club:
    • E1 The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
    • E2 Little Green by Walter Mosley