Episode Title: Moment of Truth
Originally Aired: September 30th 2016
Luke Cage the latest from the collaboration between Marvel and Netflix that brought us such hits as Daredevil seasons 1 and 2 and the first season of Jessica Jones. Jessica Jones just won the first ever Emmy for a Marvel television show, for intro music, and based on the hype surrounding the soundtrack for Luke Cage it will not be the first. If you live in the Los Angeles area, you can attend a special concert of the show’s score on October 6th curated by Tribe Called Quest members Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and hosted by Wayne Brady and Russel Peters.
The series picks up about 5 months after the end of Jessica Jones, after his bar was destroyed we find Luke working two jobs being paid under the table in order to make ends meet. After what happened to his wife Reva and then the dramatic end to his relationship with Jessica, Luke just wants to do what he has to in order to survive and not get to involved with anyone and their problems. We learn that he is a fugitive on the run and has already spent time in prison, a topic him and Pop have in common. They bond over the nervous energy it left them with and the need to pace like a caged animal.
The show features a collection of relatively unknowns supported by more famous cast members. It definitely follows the Marvel plan of looking for talented newcomers to keep costs down. The show has a budget of 50 million dollars for 13 episodes, which sounds like a lot until you factor in the effects and action elements of the show. Most elements are very well done but you can see the seams being stretched from time to time. Mike Colter who plays the titular Luke Cage is one of the mostly unknowns he seemed to get his biggest break in the Xbox Halo series before joining the Marvel family. He does a very good job of portraying Luke in this episode and showing of his desire for justice but his reluctance to get involved. He is a man with a complicated past who just wants to be left alone until the streets of Harlem push him too far and he must become the hero, the man of power, that Pop knows he should be. Will Luke be able to keep to himself or with a recent clash with gang members and a hit on gun exchange force him into the light and to fight back for his city?
This show should be a major hit for black fans of Marvel. From the hip-hop centric soundtrack to almost every character being played by a black actor, with Shades and Misty Knight’s partner Detective Scarfe as the major exceptions. The black characters play people from all lifestyles; thugs, gunrunners, newspaper stand operators, small business owners, community leaders and politicians. Reaching far past the standard stereotypes that exist in most mainstream entertainment to show the black community in all their complexities.
People who are not fans of J.J. Abrams directing style may not be a fan of this episode and the next because director Paul McGuigan may love lens flares and tricks of like more than anyone else in Hollywood. One thing Paul did do well was his transition into a flashback, which may have been the best I have ever seen. The combination of the direction, writing and acting made for an episode that was very well done and multifaceted. It was a great mix of violence, sex appeal, poignancy and power. Power both emotionally and physically, we just scrape the surface of what Luke is capable of in this episode. He has enhanced strength and impenetrable skin, nothing seen this episode can hurt him, from fists and baseball bats to bullets. We saw numerous examples of emotional power though, from the way Cottonmouth runs his crew to the way Mariah works the public and the media to how Pop tries to motivate and protect the youth of Harlem.
I will be posting a new article each week but if you are planning to binge along with me, feel free to look me up on twitter at JVL007 if you want to discuss the show.