Luke Cage (S01E05) "Just to Get a Rep"


WARNING: FULL SPOILERS
Cottonmouth’s vengeance against Luke became more personal as the crime boss did his worst to get Harlem to turn on its hero.  Cottonmouth’s men spread throughout the community, enforcing a “Luke Cage tax” on everyone in order to recoup his losses.  In the midst of the chaos, Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) arrives hoping to find her true purpose.
Luke responds by hunting each man who stole from the community.  In the process, Luke reveals more of his power to the world, including Shades who finally recognized him.  While Shades and Cottonmouth plan out ways
On the surface, Just to Get a Rep is simply another solid entry in the series.  The action, direction and performances are all great.  However, this episode continues the Luke Cages desire to add more depth to the comic book hero series.  The themes of community and legacy are very prominent.
As the the episode starts, we see why it’s called Just to Get a Rep.  Cottonmouth’s vendetta is personal to him and tries to make it personal for Luke.  He tries to ruin his reputation.  It works at first as Luke beats down every guy he can get his hands on so that Cottonmouth will “spell his name right.”  In the end, it becomes personal.
However, Luke moves beyond that simple desire to make this fight about himself.  Meeting Aisha (Ninja Devoe) and her father (Mike Britt) changes things for Luke.  Aisha’s only prized possession, a championship ring that once belonged to her troubled father, is stolen by Cottonmouth’s men.  While she goes to Luke for help, she also goes on her own rampage, shooting one of her assailants.  Luke confronts Zip (Jaiden Kaine) and realizes the importance of being in Jackie Robinson Park.  Luke recovers the ring and meets Aisha’s father who has given up on Harlem and himself.
After returning to Pop’s, Luke takes a long look at himself.
Luke realizes that he is going about this in the wrong way.  In a powerful scene at Pop’s memorial service, Luke finally outdoes Cottonmouth by making sure his intentions are clear:  He’s doing this for the community.  He doesn’t care about Harlem or the reputation that he has…he cares about the people.
It calls out to how people think selfishly in their own communities.  If you are worrying about something as silly as being disrespected when your community is struggling, you are the loser.  It’s a powerful statement to make and a pleasant surprise in a comic book show.
Shades finally recognizes Luke as Carl Lucas and his plans to take him out are intriguing.  First, its fun to see Justin Hammer’s name come up once again (Tony Stark’s rival in Iron Man 2).  And second, narratively the idea of the “Judas Bullet” gives us a possibility that Luke has some sort of weakness.  Super powered characters like Luke are always tough because of their invulnerablity.  It’s the same problem that Superman has.  We’ll see where this plot point leads.
Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple is a welcome addition to the show.  She has been a highlight whenever she appeared in Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Her strong presence is truly appreciated mostly because she believes in the super powered individuals.
I’m a little worried for Misty’s character, and not just because Claire Temple is around.  Her role as the counterpoint to the superhero’s journey is valuable.  Her total belief in justice and the system is admirable and necessary in this show.  However, Misty does it at the weirdest times.  After Luke has that breakthrough at the memorial, she still insists that Luke leave Harlem.  That moment came off as petty on her part.
And her total loyalty to Scarfe is troubling.  While I love Scarfe’s sleazy character, it’s strange that Misty doesn’t see the possibility for his corruption.  Misty has been established as an outstanding detective so it’s troubling that she can’t see Scarfe for what he is.  She may just be a terrible judge of character, given how she reacts to Luke.  We’ll see where this leads.
Just to Get a Rep is a great episode because it continues the show’s attempt to evolve Luke as a hero.  While I’m worrying about he evolution of Misty’s character, hopefully we will get more as the corruption of the police continues to grow.
SCORE: 8 out of 10