Luke is standing across from the Crispus Attucks Complex when a robber puts a gun to his head. Luke removes his earbuds and the robber calls him a nigger, and asks what he's doing there. When Luke says that he's not going to tolerate anyone saying that across from a building named after one of their greatest heroes, the mugger says that he sees a dead nigger.
At her office at the police station, Misty tries to work out what happened at the junkyard. She tells her partner Scarfe that she figures it was personal and figures that Chico doesn't have the stomach for the kind of violence that happened. Misty suggests that the vomit that they found at the scene belonged to Chico, and warns Scarfe that it isn't over yet.
At Pop's, Luke and Pop are discussing writers. Pop brings up how the street is talking about someone took down three robbers at Connie's, and figures that Luke was the one responsible. Luke doesn't deny it, and wonders if the thugs were working for Mariah or Cornell. Pop tells him that they work for both, and their grandmother was Mama Mabel. They've never come at Pop because his shop is neutral ground, and asks where Luke is really from. Luke admits that he's from Savannah, and Pop warns that trouble smells a certain way and he can smell it coming. He explains that Cornell is looking for Chico.
Cornell, Shades, and Tone come in and Cornell sits down to get a shave. He tells Pop to use a razor, not clippers, while Luke sweeps up the shop. Shades still doesn't notice or recognize him, Meanwhile, Cornell talks about the young and how they're in a hurry, Pop notices the cuts bruises on Cornell's hands and asks about them, and Cornell claims that he got them shaving. Meanwhile, Luke works out what guns Tone and Shades have and how long it'd take to take them down.
A street crook, Turk, is playing chess with Bobby by the window. Meanwhile, Luke glares at Shades and then snaps the broomstick in his hands. Shades looks over and says that he just got home from Seagate Prison after three years. He tells Luke that he grew up there and everyone knows Pop, and brings up Chico. Shades asks if Chico is still around, and Luke says that people come and go. Luke then offers to take out some "dirty towels" for Pop if he wants. Pop says that he's good, and Cornell mentions that Luke also works at the Harlem's Paradise. He gets Luke's name and says that he admires it because he's old-school, and he's big on eye-for-an eye himself. Pop finishes the shave and asks about turning the other cheek, and Cornell says that Jesus saves but he doesn't. He thanks Pop for the shave and assures him that he's loyal to his people. Luke reminds him that he hasn't paid for the shave. Pop says that it's good, but Cornell has Tone pay Pop. Tone tosses the money at Pop and then leaves with Cornell and Shades.
Once they're gone, Luke picks up the money and puts it in Pop's pocket. Pop figures that Cornell got Shameek and killed him personally, and says that it's not too late for Chico. Luke advises him to stay out of it, but Pop refuses to turn his back on the boy. He asks Luke to bring in Chico and then Pop will set up a parlay with Cornell and keep Chico alive. When Luke says that he can't do it, Pop reminds him that he didn't ask any questions when Reva came home with Luke as her husband. He hasn't said anything when he saw Luke's powers, either. Pop reminds Luke that he owed him one for all of the secrets that he's kept for him, and Pop says that time is due.
Misty and Scarfe hit the streets and end up at a pick-up basketball game. They ask one of the players, Chauncey, if he's seen Chico. He denies it but Misty figures that he's lying and challenges him to a game of Horse. If she wins, Chauncey tells her what she wants to know. If she loses then Chauncey gets a free pass on any non-violent felonies that he's done. Chauncey agrees and they start shooting, matching shot for shot.
Luke hits the streets and shows Chico's picture around. As he does, he spots Cornell and the others going into Mariah's office with a delivery. Inside, Tone dumps money onto Mariah's desk and she warns that it isn't enough. Cornell says that he has to find the guy who has the rest, and Mariah reminds her cousin that he made a deal with Domingo and then got jacked, and now they're all exposed. She tells him to fix the situation or he's going to jail, but despite their disagreements they agree that family always comes first. Mariah says that she's coming by the club that night, claiming that she likes the music. She makes it clear that she's going to be on Cornell until the money is recovered.
Luke soon breaks into the motel room where Chico is hanging out. Chico draws a gun but Luke figures that he isn’t going to shoot and tells him that Shameek is dead and they want Chico’s half of the money. Chico figures that Luke wants the money for himself, and Luke says that he came because Pop asked him to. He explains that Pop thinks he has a way to clear things up, and figures that Chico didn’t want anyone dead. Luke warns him that he found Chico in four hours for free, and Cornell find him soon unless he comes with Luke. Chico figures that he can make a fresh start with the half million he stole, and tells Luke to tell Pop that he’s sorry. Disgusted, Luke walks out.
When Luke comes back, he finds Pop sitting outside the barber shop. He sits down next to his friend and says that he found Chico, and he isn't coming. Luke warns Pop that he can’t save everyone, and Pop points out that people helped him when he was younger even though he was no angel. He admits that he was a beast and they called him “Pop” because it was the sound his fist made when he beat someone. Pop ran with Cornell and a Puerto Rican, Fredo, and shows Luke a photo of the three of them. He explains that he got arrested and didn’t turn over, leaving a pregnant girlfriend and an unborn child behind. Now he has a son that he’s never seen. When Pop got out, he decided not to be that person and opened the barber shop. He’s made it up since then by giving teenagers a place to hang out. Luke says that he felt at peace after he dealt with the thugs at Connie’s, and he’s done running.
Pop congratulates him and they go inside. Chico comes in through the back and Pop slams him against the wall and demands to know what he’s feeling. Chico breaks into tears and Pop hugs him, relieved, as Luke comes back. Pop tells him that Luke did good, Turk comes back looking for the restroom key, and sees Chico. Luke sends him on his way and then warns Pop that the word will soon get to Cornell that Chico is there.
Misty and Scarfe arrive outside and figure that Pop can tell them about Chico. Turk comes out and talks to Misty privately, and says that he came uptown to play chess against Bobby. Misty tells him to head back midtown and Turk walks off.
Inside, Chico says that no one saw him come in. Scarfe enters the shop and Lucas warns that the cops are there. Pop sends Chico into the bathroom to hide, and then tells Luke to sit tight while he stalls the police. He goes out to greet Scarfe and Misty as she comes in, and greets Misty by name. Luke peers out and sees Misty, and recognizes her from the other night. Scarfe refuses to shake hands with Pop, and Misty explains that they’re looking for Chico. Misty explains about the shootout at the junkyard, and Scarfe sees a photo of Dante and points out that Dante was found dead at the scene and Shameek was beaten to death. Pop says that Chico and Shameek were there getting a haircut.
Luke comes out and asks if they think Chico killed his friend over money. Misty recognizes him and Luke introduces himself. Pop realizes that there was something between them, and says that his place is neutral ground but he has no control after they left. Misty says that Chico has pertinent information, and Luke continues to ride her about claiming she was an auditor. Pop says that Chico missed work the last two days but might call for his check, and Misty tells him to have Chico call her if she comes in. Once they leaves, Luke claims that he and Misty had cop but Pop knows better. He then tells Luke that he needs to see Cornell and set up the parlay, because the police will be watching Pop and they can’t set it up on the phone. When Luke hesitates, Pop says that Fredo died on the streets and he doesn’t want to see Chico go the same way. Luke agrees to set things up and heads out.
At the club, Nate tells Luke that he has his money. Luke ignores him and goes up to Cornell. Cornell is with Mariah, and has Tone pat Luke down. Once they’re satisfied that Luke is clean, Luke explains that Pop sent him to set up a parlay for Chico and doesn’t want it to end up like Shameek. As they talk, Tone gets a text from Turk that he knows where Chico is. Meanwhile, Luke says that Chico just wants safe passage out of NYC and he’ll return everything that he stole. Cornell claims that he isn’t interested, and Luke shows him the photo and tells him that Pop just wants Cornell to remember his history. After a minute, Cornell tells Luke to tell Pop that he’ll come by later for a haircut. As Luke goes, Cornell tells him that he’s fired. Luke says that he already quit before he came In and Cornell chuckles.
Later, Tone tells Cornell that they have someone who knows where Chico is. Cornell says to let it go and they’ll take care of it in the morning, Once Tone leave, Mariah tells her cousin that the gangster life isn’t what their people died for. Cornell says that they died for self-determination and power.
Turk meets with Tone and Shades, and says that Chico is at Pops/ They leave without paying him.
At Pop’s, Patricia comes in to pick up Lonnie and wonders where Luke is. She insists that she just wants to take Luke out for coffee.
Cornell tells Mariah that people remember black martyrs and black money.
As Shades and Tone drive to Pop’s, Tone gets his gun ready. Shades asks if Tone is going to wait until Chico comes out, and Tone doesn’t respond.
Luke arrives at the shop and tells Pop that Cornell will only talk to him at the shop.
Mariah says that she wants something better: respect. Cornell says that money outlasts respect.
Chico comes out into the shop with the bag of money, complaining that there’s no TV in the back. Tone steps out and opens fire, and Luke runs to protect the customer, Lonnie. The bullets bounce off his body, but the others hit Pop and Chico. Once he’s done, Tone enters the shop with Shades and Luke tells the teenage customer to play dead and does the same. Shades tells Tone that he should have waited, and then grabs the bag of money. The two men leave and Luke goes to Pop. As the ambulances arrive, Pop tells Luke with his dying breath to always move forward.
Patricia arrives and Lonnie tells her what happened. Meanwhile, the police secure the crime scene while the EMTs take away the wounded but breathing Chico. Misty asks Luke if he’s okay, and notices the bullet holes in his shirt. He insists that he’s okay and says that once he saw the flash, he shielded Lonnie. Luke refuses to see the EMTs, and Misty wonders if Chico was hiding out there. The police haven’t picked up anything on the traffic cams, and Scarfe has confirmed that Cornell has been at the club all night. Misty is furious that they have nothing and storms out.
Shades and Tone go to the club and Cornell tells them to go to the roof to meet. Mariah insists on going with her cousin, and Shades says that Tone should have waited. Tone insists that he got the call and tells Cornell what happened. He says that he made an executive decision and admits that he shot up the shop to send a message. Shades insists that they should have waited, and Tone warns that he can’t give message. He inadvertently calls Cornell “Cottonmouth,” and Cornell snaps. Both men figure that Chico is dead, and Cornell figures that they had to do it and Pop can rebuilt with some money he’ll donate anonymously. Shades says that Pop is dead, and Tone insists that he was a casualty of war.
Turk arrives and demands his money, and Cornell confirms that Tone promised to pay him. He then grabs Tone and throws him off the building. Cornell tells Turk to collect his money from Tone downstairs, and Turk says that he’s going back to Hell’s Kitchen where it’s safe. Once he leaves, Cornell gives the money to Mariah and asks if she’s okay. She says that she’s not okay with murder, and Cornell reminds her that they’ve got the money. She takes it and leaves, and Shades offers his condolences on Pop’s death. And Cornell insists that there’s supposed to be rules.
Misty and Strafe stand by their car and Misty insists that Luke must have gotten hit. Strafe offers her a drink and figures that she’s drink.
Luke sits in his apartment holding Pop’s swear jar and the Renaissance flyer.
Cornell sits in his office, crying.
Later, Luke is standing across from the Complex when a robber puts a gun to his head. When the robber asks why Luke is there and calls him “nigger,” Luke says that he isn’t tired enough to let anyone call him that. He tells the mugger that Crispus Attucks was the first man to die for what became America, turns, and says that he laid in the cut until Pop stepped up. He says that he isn't laying back anymore, and tells the robber to pull the trigger. When the teenager hesitates, Luke grabs the gun away and says that he’ll do it for him. He shoots himself in the stomach and the bullet bounces off. The robber ru7ns and Luke spares at the spent bullet. Across the street, Mariah gets out of her car with the money and goes inside. Luke remembers what Pop said about moving forward.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 2, 2016