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Recap / Luke Cage S1E2 "Code of the Streets"

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Pop sends Luke after Chico, hoping to find him before Cottonmouth. Meanwhile, Misty Knight is also looking for Chico in connection to the shootout.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Anger Born of Worry: Pops is furious with Chico when he reappears, and hugs him a second later. He can't help but smile in relief as he chastises him.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Cottonmouth didn't want Pop dead, only Chico. He is seen crying over a picture with him and Pop on it.
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  • Asshole Victim: Tone. Calling Cornell "Cottonmouth" to his face (when he hates being called that name) and dismissing Pops' death as "a casualty of war" earns him this spot.
  • Bait-and-Switch/Gilligan Cut: Cottonmouth, Tone and Shades walk into Pop's Barbershop, clearly hunting for Chico, as suspenseful music plays, implying that someone's about to get violently interrogated and... the scene cuts to Cottonmouth in the chair getting a haircut while Tone and Shades stand by.
  • Berserk Button: Cornell makes it clear that he utterly hates being called "Cottonmouth".
    • Luke Cage will not have any one call him a "nigga". Even if the person in question is black.
  • Blood Knight: Tone chooses a hilariously inefficient means of dispatching Chico. Rather than just, say, walk in with a pistol and shoot Chico in the head, he decides to spray twin automatic submachine guns into the barbershop from the outside. Chico is nonfatally wounded due to Luke shielding him from the brunt of the bullets, and Pop gets killed in the crossfire.
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  • Butt-Monkey: In order, Turk Barrett 1) gets beaten at chess, 2) threatened by Misty Knight, and 3) sent off without payment by Cottonmouth after watching Tone get thrown to his death.
  • The Cameo: R&B singer Faith Evans is the musical guest in Cottonmouth's club.
  • Car Cushion/Disney Villain Death: Cottonmouth throws Tone to his death as punishment for killing Pop.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Django Unchained is referenced when Tone claims his shooting at the barbershop was like the Candieland massacre. Samuel L. Jackson was in that, who also plays Nick Fury in the MCU. And his wife LaTanya Richardson Jackson is Mama Mabel in the flashbacks in "Manifest". Not only that, but Quentin Tarantino directed Pulp Fiction, which not only features Samuel L. Jackson, but also features Frank Whaley (Rafael Scarfe) as Brett.
    • When Pop is telling Luke about his backstory, he says to Luke, "I thought you was innocent, Shawshank," obviously referencing The Shawshank Redemption. That movie's cast includes Bob Gunton, Clancy Brown (who appear in Daredevil (2015) as Leland Owlsley and the Blacksmith, respectively) and William Sadler (who appears in the MCU films as President Matthew Ellis).
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  • Continuity Nod: In response to Shades' sincere condolences, Cottonmouth says, "Believe it or not, there's supposed to be rules to this shit," subtly calling back on what Ben Urich's mafia informant says in an early episode of Daredevil (2015): "It used to be if you killed a man, you sent his wife flowers. Now they just send his wife with him. … There are no rules, Benny. Not anymore.”
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Quite literally: When Pop notices the cuts on Cottonmouth's knuckles that were caused by beating Shameek to death in the previous episode, Cottonmouth claims they were from "shaving". This doesn't fool Pop for a second, who quickly pieces together that he killed Shameek.
  • Deadly Euphemism: When Cottonmouth and his men come looking for Chico in Pop's store, Luke asks Pop if he wants to "take the dirty towels out," a not-so-subtle threat about asking Cottonmouth to leave, though Pop refuses.
  • Dropping the Bombshell: When Tone and Shades return to Cottonmouth at the club with Chico's money and are explaining what happened:
    Cottonmouth: You had to do it, I guess. [sighs] Pops can rebuild. He won't like it but I'll donate some money. [Shades takes off his sunglasses] Anonymously. It's all gonna be okay. [Cottonmouth pats Tone on the back. He notices Shades looks uneasy] What?
    Shades: Pops is dead.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Misty and Scarfe commiserate by their car, drinking a bottle of whiskey, after Pop is killed.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Pop gets gunned down by Tone in the barber shop.
    Pop: [dying breath] Forward... Always...
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Mariah is fine with extortion, but murder is out of the question for her. She does not take it well after watching Cottonmouth throw Tone off the rooftop.
    • Shades suggests to Tone that they should wait until Chico comes out of the barbershop and is pretty shocked when Tone disregards him and just shoots the shop up like the Fourth of July, Pop included.
    • Cottonmouth kills Tone as punishment for killing Pop, who has a history with Cottonmouth and wasn't involved in the robbery.
  • First-Name Basis: Cottonmouth calls Pop "Henry" due to their history together in the past.
  • Guns Akimbo: Tone fires two submachine guns into the barbershop, trying to kill Chico. He only manages to nonfatally wound Chico, while mortally wounding Pop.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Pop reveals that he used to be a gangbanger who was famous for his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • How We Got Here: The episode starts with a thug pulling a gun on Luke. We catch up to that moment at the end with Luke scaring him off.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Lonnie is saved by Luke when Tone starts shooting up the shop.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted when it comes to Cottonmouth. His beatdown to Shameek has left cuts on his knuckles.
  • It Is Beyond Saving: Luke tries to talk Pops into letting Chico go, but Pops defies this trope and calls in his favor with Luke to save Chico.
  • Mythology Gag: In conversation with Pop, Luke claims to be from Chicago. In the comics, Luke operated out of Chicago for a time.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Pops refusing Luke's offer to deal with Cottonmouth and his men right there ends up getting him killed, when the idiotic Tone comes back.
  • N-Word Privileges: Luke thinks that not even black people should have them.
    Luke: I'm not tired enough to ever let nobody call me that word. You see a nigga standin' in front of you? Across the street from a building named after one of our greatest heroes?
  • Oh, Crap!: When Cottonmouth comes to the barbershop with Shades and Tone, clearly looking for Chico, Luke is clearly uncomfortable, especially since he still remembers Shades from prison. Luke's anxiety causes him to accidentally snap the broom handle, leading Shades to look at him. Fortunately, Shades still doesn't recognize Luke, even engaging him in a conversation to try and see if Chico's name trips him up.
  • Orbital Shot/The Oner: Used as Misty and Scarfe talk at the crime scene after Pop is killed.
  • Pet the Dog: After Cottonmouth kills Tone, Shades walks up to him and says, "Sorry about Pop. I know he meant a lot to you."
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Tone calls shooting up the barbershop some "Django Candyland shit for real." Once again someone in Cottonmouth’s camp uses racist imagery as a point of positive comparison, as the previous episode saw Cottonmouth comparing Harlem's Paradise to the Cotton Club.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The only way to explain how Turk is able to get past Cottonmouth's office and make it to the roof. All to demand the money that Tone had promised him for selling out Chico.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Luke tracks down Chico in four hours, for free.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Cottonmouth murders Tone, Turk decides, "You Harlem niggas are off the hook. I'm going back to Hell's Kitchen, where it's safe."
  • Seen It All: Turk's very nonchalant about Cottonmouth throwing Tone off the roof. Given the guy's dealt with nearly losing his foot to mystical ninjas and being regularly beaten up by Matt Murdock, this is nothing.
  • Sherlock Scan: Misty replays the gunfight at the junkyard using nothing but pictures from her wall.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spanner in the Works: Turk Barrett is indirectly responsible for Pop's death, as he snitched out Chico's whereabouts to Tone.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Cottonmouth was already in a state of Tranquil Fury over Tone's recklessness, but using his nickname causes him to bellow, "MY NAME IS NOT COTTONMOUTH!" in Tone's face so suddenly that the overconfident and smug Tone is immediately scared shitless.
  • Tempting Fate: Turk says, "You Harlem niggas are off the hook. I'm going back to Hell's Kitchen where it's safe," after watching Cottonmouth throw Tone off the roof. Assuming that the first few episodes of Luke Cage take place before the season 2 finale of Daredevil (2015), this line means that Turk is going back to Hell's Kitchen in time to get kidnapped by the Hand.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Great idea calling Stokes "Cottonmouth" to his face, Tone. Great idea. Especially given the recklessness in carrying out the hit on Chico on your own, and killing Pop in the process.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Luke takes the swear jar from Pop's Barber Shop.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Turk has a very nonchalant reaction to Cottonmouth throwing Tone off the roof.
    Turk: Y'all Harlem niggas off the hook. I'm goin' back to Hell's Kitchen where it's safe.
  • We Do Not Know Each Other: A variant. Luke recognizes Shades, but Shades doesn't recognize him. Luke pretends not to know who he is during their interaction at Pop's.


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