Season 1 Episode 3: "Who's Gonna Take The Weight?"
The episode opens with Luke still mourning the loss of Pop, while Misty and Detective Mayonnaise are on the job catchin' thugs and trying to convince Chico to step up and testify. Luke and Cornell have a private standoff in the funeral home after Cornell pays for Pop's funeral arrangements, and after Cornell tells him to step off, Luke says he's "Just gettin' started."
Turns out that holy shit he isn't kidding. Luke hatches a plan to go after Cornell where it counts- his knights, his rooks, and his Queen—Mariah. Luke hits Cornell and Mariah's stash at Crispus Attucks, robbing them blind while connecting the good councilwoman's name to crime. Which means Luke just made things personal really fast between him, Cornell, and Mariah.
The action scenes in this episode really ramp up, and it's an absolute blast to see Luke Cage literally running through bullets unscathed. The balls-to-the-wall ultraviolence—without anyone actually getting killed—is brilliant. Using a car door as both a battering ram and a shield is a spot of brilliance, and Mike Colter is poetry in fucking motion during action scenes. His movement is understated, with the perfect calm of someone who has no fear and the quiet anger of a man who has nothing left to lose. There's no fancy martial arts from Luke—just the brute force of a walking blunt object. And yet he doesn't kill a single thug. I guess that when nobody is really a threat to you, you can let them live. Luke Cage's main message so far is that only cowards kill.
Meanwhile, Detective Mayonnaise meets Chico alone to talk and then, after Chico makes this big beautiful speech about standing up and being a man and coming forward, Mayonnaise chokes him to death with his tie, because of COURSE that slimy asshole is a dirty cop. I seriously am PRAYING we get a good death scene out of this slimebag. I hate him so much. Turns out Detective Mayo is working for Cornell, and lets Cornell know that Luke Cage is behind all the raids—and gives him Luke's address, which he got from Misty's GPS location the night she got down with Luke. Detective Mayonnaise, you're the worst.
Look at that smug face. Don't you want to just punch it? I do. I want to punch him right in the hair gel.
Cornell shows up at Luke's home with a fucking ROCKET LAUNCHER and takes out the building, because holy damn. The episode ends on a cliffhanger and Ghengis Connie's is blown the hell up.
We start seeing conflict arise between Cornell and Mariah, who he calls "Black Mariah"—a nod to the comics—as things start to go south. Family first, but for how long? Also, while Mariah is still sympathetic and clearly has Harlem's best interests at heart, she's getting more ruthless as the ends justify the means. I'm excited to see what the show does with her character arc. I'd love it if by the end of the series, she was the most ruthless character. Alfre Woodard is an absolutely sublime actress, and I'd love to see her given more to do than "slightly corrupt politician trying to make things right.
The music and cinematography continues to deliver in a big way, and the tone of the show continues to really distance itself from other Marvel shows. This isn't a superhero show, this is a crime drama with a superhero in it, and the formula works. I need this soundtrack for my collection. Whomever curated the music for this show needs to win a fucking Emmy.
Body Count: 1
Normally I'd be a bit disappointed with such a low body count in this show, but there was so much action that I was pretty satisfied. Plus, we're still coming off of Pop's excruciating demise. Luke Cage doesn't have as high a body count as Jessica Jones or Daredevil, but the deaths the show does have manage to be more meaningful and carry more weight. In this show, it's quality over quantity as far as the body count goes.
Photo Credit: Splash