(Warning: The following contains both potential - albeit largely theoretical - SPOILERS for Marvel and Netflix's upcoming Luke Cage, and a large quantity of gloriously old-school hip hop, with all the accompanying expletives that might imply. Proceed with whatever level of caution that suggests to you is wise...)
Now, with Marvel and Netflix's Luke Cage just a few short weeks away from straining our internet connections (and social lives) upon its arrival on September 30, it's not too surprising that the folks behind the show are beginning to ramp up their promotional efforts. Similarly, it's not overly shocking that the series' showrunner, Cheo Hodari Coker, has recently been gradually revealing the episode titles for the first season, seeing as that's both standard practice and good promotional sense. What's a little more intriguing, however - now that all thirteen episode titles have been revealed - is just how much they might tell us about the show. In fact...
It Seems That Luke Cage's Episode Titles Might Just Tell Us A Lot About The Show
Which, seeing as each and every one of them is also the title of a song by legendary East Coast hip hip duo Gang Starr, actually makes a whole lot of sense. After all, it seems entirely likely that Coker - who revealed the titles' old-school provenance back at this year's San Diego Comic-Con - has carefully chosen the tracks for their thematic relevance to their respective episodes.
As such, then, it seemed worth taking a closer look at each track-based title, and at just what it might mean for the episode in question.
Want more on Luke Cage in the meantime, though? Check out...
- Sweet Christmas! Everything We Know About Luke Cage On Netflix
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First up, then?
Episode One: "Moment Of Truth"
Key line: "I ain't no saint, therefore I cannot dispute, that everyone must meet their moment of truth."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: Expect the first episode to feature such a 'moment of truth' for Luke Cage himself - though most likely one thrust upon him, rather than chosen willingly.
Episode Two: "Code Of The Streets"
Key line: "To do anything, anywhere, any place, buck wild in another court case. It's the code of the streets."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: Expect a full introduction to the show's two lead antagonists, Mahershala Ali's Cornell 'Cottonmouth' Stokes and Alfre Woodard's Mariah Dillard. Perhaps some variation of the 'code of the streets' is what draws Dillard's respected politician into her cousin Stokes' gang-related activities?
Episode Three: "Who's Gonna Take the Weight?"
Key line: "I've been through so much, I'm such a maniac, but I still act out of faith."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: Y'know who's probably going to "take the weight"? Luke Cage, that's who.
Episode Four: "Step in the Arena"
Key line: "I'm'a sheathe my Excalibur, like a noble knight, so meet your challenger. A true hero, while you're a true zero, getting beat to a pulp so that you can't run for help."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: Luke Cage is presumably going to "step into the arena" of Harlem, and present himself as a challenger to the preeminence of Stokes and Dillard.
Episode Five: "Just to Get a Rep"
Key line: "It's a daily operation, he might be loose in the park, or lurking at the train station. Mad brothers know his name, so he thinks he got a little fame, from the stick up game."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: Now, this could well be referring to Luke Cage himself needing to "get a rep", but there's also a pretty good chance that this episode could introduce Cage to the street-smart, rep-laden 'Shades' Alvarez, as played by Theo Rossi.
Episode Six: "Suckas Need Bodyguards"
Key line: "Fake MCs, they always act hard, but won't walk the streets without their bodyguards."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: Most likely? Cage is going to demonstrate that several suckas really do need bodyguards.
Episode Seven: "Manifest"
Key line: "I suggest you take a breath, for the words I manifest, they will scold you and mold you."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: Could we see a recognition on Cage's part that he has to embrace his role as a hero - or some scolding from a wise figure on the sidelines to that same effect? Simone Missick's Misty Knight and Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple both seem likely to mold Cage's thinking, after all.
Episode Eight: "Blowin' Up the Spot"
Key line: "No ex-capin the explosion, those who are dozin, I close in. Set the thermostat at sub-zero, they're frozen."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: It's pretty difficult to avoid the obvious - that some sort of spot is going to get blown up. Could this episode see Cage finally confront Stokes at his nightclub, Paradise... and level it?
Episode Nine: "DWYCK"
Key line: "You heard we quit? No way, bullshit! I told you before we come back with more hits."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: If we assume that things will have started going well for Cage by the end of episode eight, then nine would make for a perfect time for a reversal of fortune - and the likes of Stokes and Dillard 'coming back with more hits'.
Episode Ten: "Take it Personal"
Key line: "Nevertheless, cleverness can't impress, 'cause now you've been exposed like a person undressed, and I can see through you, 'cause I'm the guru, and what you gonna do when I start to step to you?"
What It Might Mean For The Episode: Let's take this one at face value, and assume that Luke Cage is about to start 'taking this personal'. And you know who you really don't want to start to step to you? Luke goddamned Cage.
Episode Eleven: "Now You're Mine"
Key line: "Chumps like you, I gotta keep 'em in line, so prepare to suffer boy, cause now you're mine."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: If there's an episode ready-made to feature Stokes getting his hands on Cage and testing the limits of his unbreakable skin, it's this one.
Episode Twelve: "Soliloquy of Chaos"
Key line: "5 carloads deep, time to go do a show, got a massive crew and we`re ready to roll."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: Netflix's Marvel shows have often brought things to a boil in the penultimate episode, so it seems reasonable to assume that we could be seeing Harlem descending into a "soliloquy of chaos", with Stokes' 'massive crew' proving 'ready to roll'.
Episode Thirteen: "You Know My Steez"
Key line: "You're in the Terrordome like my man Chuck D said, it's time to dethrone you clones, and all you knuckleheads."
What It Might Mean For The Episode: What with 'steez' meaning a blend of style and ease and all, it seems reasonable to assume that we'll see Cage 'dethrone' the show's villains... with a whole lot of steez.
Or, alternatively, those episode titles could be cunningly placed red herrings, and the show could turn out to have very little to do with the music of Gang Starr. Either way, though, Luke Cage is coming September 30...
...and he might just be bringing the dance party with him:
What do you reckon, though? What do you think Luke Cage's episode titles really mean? Let us know below!