Luke Cage Recap: S1E5 “Just To Get A Rep”


In episode 5 of Luke Cage Harlem comes together to remember Pop while a familiar face returns home.

In episode five of Luke Cage Cottonmouth is angry. And broke. He has barely any money left after Luke stole it all from Fort Knox in the previous episode. Rather than try to hurt Luke just yet, Cottonmouth decides to take it out on Harlem, having his goons go after the money from the ordinary, hard working citizens. And when they ask why, he tells them to “Holler at Luke Cage.” So begins an episode all about protecting and making a name for yourself.

The world knows Luke’s name now, but it’s not necessarily for a good reason. He has started a war with Cottonmouth and put the people of Harlem in the middle. While he manages to get everyone’s property back by beating his way through the neighborhood, it is not enough anymore. He is the one causing these problems in the first place and now he has to find a way to fix it.

The war comes to a tipping point during Pop’s funeral. Both Luke and Cottonmouth deliver eulogies that are really about rallying the people of Harlem behind them. Cottonmouth’s speech is about revenge. Revenge on the person he claims to not know killed Pop and protection from “strangers with arcane abilities” he believes don’t belong in his city. Like his cousin Mariah he wants to close off Harlem from outside influences so they can be the ones in control of the city’s narrative.

Luke is different. He knows Pop was about helping people, about seeing the best in them and working to bring it out. To Pop and to Luke, it is not just about a city.

"“I don’t believe in Harlem. I believe in the people that make Harlem what it is.”"

Luke respects the history of Harlem as we saw in episode two when he told the story of Crispus Attucks to the man trying to shoot him. But he also has respect for the people of Harlem, something Cornell clearly lacks. The people of Harlem have always known that Cottonmouth didn’t have the best intentions, but they weren’t able to do anything about it. Now that Luke Cage is here though, it looks like things could change.

Scarfre is also starting to question his involvement with Cottonmouth. He gets a warning from Perez (Manny Perez) that the Captain has been investigating his activities and begins to panic. In the last episode we saw a swaggering dirty cop who didn’t flinch when it came to killing a man. Now he doesn’t seen as sure. Looks like as Cottonmouth’s money goes so do his loyal henchmen.

For now Misty remains a loyal partner, but she’s also a smart detective. The seed of doubt has been planted now that she knows Scarfe is being watched and it seems like it won’t be long before she figures out the truth. With her roots in Harlem and her connection to Pop she will not take this betrayal lightly. It looks like it may be a race between Scarfe attempting to change his mind and make things right and Misty figuring out the truth.

Image via Netflix

Another character in search of truth is Hell’s Kitchen’s prodigal daughter Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson). She has come home to Harlem after the events of the second season of Daredevil where her friend Louisa was killed by a ninja from the Hand and the hospital covered it up. Like the events that lead Carl Lucas to become Luke Cage, there is a purpose for Claire coming to Harlem. “Everything happens for a reason. And now, somehow…you’re a part of it,” her mother, Soledad (Sonia Braga), tells her. Claire knows what she wants to do. She wants to help people with “special abilities” like Luke and Daredevil. It looks like she is ready to take up the mantle of the Night Nurse (although whether they will actually call her by that name from the comics remains to be seen).

Luke is also willing to take up the mantle as defender of Harlem, but Misty wants him to let the law handle it. “There’s always a bigger fish, a bigger angle,” Luke tells her. He is worried the cops will let Cottonmouth walk as part of a deal to go after another criminal. The whole episode seems to foreshadow the eventual reveal of Diamondback, the man even Cottonmouth seems to fear. Now that Cottonmouth has taken out a loan from Diamondback in order to buy a (Hammer Tech) weapon that can kill Luke Cage, it’s only a matter of time before the man himself shows up.

Similar to the first seasons of both Daredevil and Jessica Jones, the presence of this “big bad” is felt rather than seen early on in the series. It worked very well in those shows, building up the tension and history between the heroes and villains before their first meeting. It’s the, “fear of the name increases the fear of the thing itself” school of villain creation. We will have to wait and see if this works for Diamondback as well.

Stray Observations & Easter Eggs

  • “Costs to be a savior, ask Jesus.”
  • “Don’t you need a gun?” “I am the gun.”
  • Claire chasing down and beating the man who steals her purse is the perfect way to reintroduce her character
  • Nice appearance by Dapper Dan, a real life Harlem legend
  • Shout out to costume designer Stephanie Maslansky for putting Luke in that gorgeous suit for the majority of the episode
  • Third reference to Thor’s hammer and second mention of the Hulk in this episode
  • So when is Sam Rockwell showing up on this show?