Luke Cage SN1 EP06-‘Suckas Need Bodyguards’

Cottonmouth hits rock bottom as allies become enemies in a thrilling episode.

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Detective Scarfe has been one of the standout characters of Luke Cage. His blend of sarcasm and genuine care for Misty despite his wrongdoings highlighted him as a character you immediately warmed to. Unfortunately, being the partner of one of the leads, and then a corrupt one at that, his days were clearly numbered. As a side note, I find that with each subsequent Marvel/Netflix show it’s getting easier to spot who will die. The shows have fallen into a realm of predictability that can become slightly distracting, so I hope they shake things up with Iron Fist. Regarding Scarfe however, his path to redemption turned out to be rather unpredictable.

From his solo meeting with Cottonmouth at the start of the episode it was clear things were never going to go well for Scarfe, but something about his motivation seemed off, especially as we learnt more about his backstory. In a moment that’s all too common on TV shows nowadays, we learnt a heck of a lot about Scarfe right before he died, primarily that he had a son who had also died. It was in learning that, that Scarfe’s motivation of made less sense. Before it was easy to assume Scarfe was just greedy. It was in trying to squeeze Cottonmouth for an extra $100,000 that resulted in his untimely demise, but as soon as it was revealed he had a son, the pieces fell into place.

From the beginning, Scarfe’s behaviour towards Cottonmouth has always been pretty reckless, something which made even less sense in learning he wasn’t the only Detective on Cottonmouth’s payroll. In a brilliant feat of subverting expectations then, it became clear that Scarfe almost wanted to die. As Misty noted “He’s always cracking jokes, but never smiles.” The death of his son, partially caused by him, left Scarfe living an empty existence. It explains his recklessness with Cottonmouth. The want for money in an attempt to fill the void in his life. And why his relationship with Misty was so strong. In a way, she was a surrogate son. Whereas everyone else in the precinct treated her like a girl, Scarfe initially treated her like the son he never got to help grow. What seemed like just another run of the mill dirty cop story, turned out to be a moving reflection of the effect of loss upon a person. It all came together as in an easy to miss moment he uttered he would see his son again. Scarfe didn’t necessarily want to die once it came down to it, but he always had the hope that his death would bring with it another chance to be with his son, and that was a truly touching moment.

Whilst Scarfe may now be gone, his partner Misty is finally developing into a stronger character. Before now, her obsession with Luke has sapped the character of everything that made her great in episode one, so it was great to see her focus finally shift back to Cottonmouth. She got to be a detective again rather than stalking the streets after Luke, and the way she figured out and ultimately overpowered Detective Perez placed her as a force to be reckoned with. Her bond with Scarfe really shone through this episode, and showed a more intimate side to her that we hadn’t seen before. Sure we saw she was sad at Pop’s death, but there was an indication that Scarfe was an even more powerful figure in her life. He was the only one that believed in her to begin with, so I’d hate to be anyone who gets on the wrong side of her now. On the other hand, with Cottonmouth now in jail it’s possible she’ll set all her sights on Luke, something that really should be left alone.

Much of this episode embraced the form of a thriller. There was always the chance that Detective Scarfe could survive, so the chase sequences were exciting to behold. The locations used emphasised the excitement, with the busy road chase creating a sense of chaos as the stakes were raised, whilst the darkened, narrow, twisting hallways of the building they escaped into created a claustrophobic, hopeless atmosphere. It helps that there was a character present in these scenes whose safety truly hung in the balance. With Luke everything-proof, and Detective Scarfe on his way out, there had to be a defenceless character around to make the scenes worthwhile and exciting. Which is where Claire came into the story. She continues to be an awesome character that connects the otherwise isolated worlds of the Netflix shows. Her time in this episode pushed her closer to becoming the Night Nurse, as she displayed some terrific skills, whilst also pushing Luke to embrace his inner hero. She’s the kind of person who can get through to people, show them a better way, and if she sticks around on Luke Cage for any length of time, could be the catalyst Luke needs to push him that one step further.

There were some pretty significant goings on in this episode that I didn’t even touch on, so other notable highlights include:

  • The breakfast scene between Luke and Fish was a fun little moment, as Fish brings out a different side to Luke that is all together more fun. As such it has me severely worried for Fish’s safety. I don’t think I could handle it if they killed him off too.

  • After lurking in the background for a couple of episodes, Alfre Woodard’s Councilwoman Mariah Dillard made a significant comeback this episode. I say comeback only in the most general of terms, as her political career actually hit quite a speedbump. It’s terrific to see the two sides to her, as both politician and Cottonmouth’s cousin, but there were hints of a deeper character going on here. It seems the character is not quite stable, and you can see that behind her eyes is something just waiting to snap. She’s not your conventional villain, in that whilst most villains like her just think they are doing the right thing, the ambitions she has would actually be the right thing. With the impending struggles in her political career though, we might just be about to see the beast snap.

  • These Marvel/Netflix shows really don’t shy away from highlighting corruption do they? I swear if real life was actually that corrupt, which it no doubt is, it’s a wonder everything isn’t just a wreck!

  • Loved how Claire turned down Luke’s suggestion to ‘get coffee’. She knows what you mean Luke, don’t go try playing that.

  • We saw a rather dark side to Luke this episode as he got close to killing Scarfe himself. I didn’t get the notion that Chico meant that much to him, but I suppose it was the fact that Pop died trying to protect him that sent Luke over the edge. Still this was unsettling to watch, and says that there’s maybe more to Luke than we know.

A thrilling episode of Luke Cage saw the unfortunate loss of standout character Scarfe, but a loss that will hopefully propel Misty forward to becoming an altogether better character. An exciting chase scene provided the thrills of the episode, whilst the continued appearance of Claire Temple pushed her closer toward the Night Nurse mantle, as she herself pushed Luke to do more with his powers. With Cottonmouth now in jail, the series has truly reached the point where the heroes are victorious, so I wonder just how long that will last?

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