Money, power, influence, family, pride. Success can be interpreted in many ways and “Moment of Truth” offers different views at the struggle to reach it. A reintroduction to Luke Cage, who wants to live a simple life, earn an honest wage and keep his head down. Indeed, a good man who doesn’t realize he’s a role model to those around him.
Everyone Has A Gun, No One Has A Father
Notes of The Wire, Shaft and Foxy Brown mingle beautifully and accompanied by one of the best soundtracks in television. Visuals which seep of gold. It could pass as a nod to Luke’s costume in the comics, but both Luke’s apartment and Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes’ club are lit and designed to emanate the elemental hue. It screams out those varying ideas of “success” to me.
There’s a lot of “the past is the past” in this premiere episode. Pop, the owner of the Barbershop where Luke sweeps hair, has lived a similar life. He’s been to prison and propped up the community by trying to better its youth once out. His want for Luke is to one day move on from Reva’s death and his time at Seagate Prison. “Always Forward” is both an incredibly simple and remarkably complicated mantra in hope of his that immediately stayed with me.
Everybody Wants To Be The King
Another step that brings the focus back around to Cottonmouth. His club may glow with a golden hue, but his office is blood red. For him, success isn’t furthering the community as much as his stature in it. That scene also gave me one of my favorite shots in the episode, and possibly ever in the MCU. The blocking and framing as Cottonmouth explains why the eye is drawn to the crown in his framed image of Biggie Smalls is astounding. That “calm before the storm” moment of playing a keyboard before pummeling a man to death. As a result of letting him breathe for a moment, the weight in reality is horrifying.
Cottonmouth’s family connections play a part as well. His cousin Mariah Dillard is a councilwoman trying to establish the community by playing both sides. Cottonmouth’s financial influence brings dirty money into a campaign to rejuvenate the area, starting with the Crispus Attucks Complex. Many things can seemingly bring Cottonmouth’s Camelot down, beginning with his own recruits stealing from him.
Luke Cage Doesn’t Like Coffee
Finally, Misty Knight. I can’t not smile when Misty is on screen. She’s strong, confident, funny and striking. I can’t wait to see how her day job on the police force and after hours activities come together over the season. Add to that her chemistry with Luke is so absolutely enthralling. It’s no surprise that she’s able to pull Luke out of his funk. She’s an exciting new character in the Marvel world, a woman who knows what she wants, knows what she’s doing from the moment we meet her.
This first episode of Luke Cage has a lot going on. Ultimately though, it showcases the struggles of a community to reach success one way or another. This is a black show that wants to educate those of us who aren’t part of that community, and it’s pretty eye-opening from the get-go.
Both Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have taken Marvel’s Netflix runs and turned stories about iconic heroes into those of people. People with real life experience that exudes utmost honesty, they just happen to have abilities.
Luke Cage is currently available to stream on Netflix.