In this very “Scarfey” episode of Luke Cage, Luke teams up with a very unlikely ally, Detective Scarfe, to bring down Cottonmouth. But time is running out for Scarfe, who is shot and bleeding out and the police are hot on their trail.
Episode 6, “Suckas Need Bodyguards”, opens on Luke running through the city. In the background, a nice little Jessica Jones easter egg, Trish Walker, discusses whether or not Luke Cage is good for Harlem. Meanwhile, Detective Scarfe meets with Cottonmouth to hand over the guns. However, he is unwilling to hand them over until Cottonmouth gives him $100,000.00 cash. In response Cottonmouth shoots Scarfe and leaves him to bleed.
Luke issues a threat to Councilwoman Mariah who is prepping for an interview at her home. His threat is enough to send her running to her cousin, who happens to have more important things to worry about since he shot Scarfe that morning. This is less than ideal as they now have to worry about Luke Cage and the possibility of Scarfe surviving long enough to turn on Cottonmouth and bring the police to his door. Her cousin’s seemingly rash behavior and lack of a plan to deal with Luke Cage causes Mariah to show a hint of the cold, meticulous, mentality that makes her such an intriguing villain.
Afterwards, Luke and Bobby Fish engage in another Luke Cage easter egg, discussing his “superhero” catchphrase, ‘I ain’t no hero. Pay me’, alluding to the well known “hero for hire” pitch Luke Cage is known for in the comic books. Claire, the Night Nurse, meets with Luke at her mother’s dinner, allowing the audience to become re-acquainted with how the two met during Jessica Jones. He initially doesn’t recognize her, but after some gentle prodding he recalls how she saved his life after he was shot in the face. She informs him that she wishes to help, feeling a responsibility towards him after saving his life. Eventually, Luke brings Claire to Pop’s shop where they find a bleeding Scarfe waiting for Luke.
In the midst of all this, word has gotten to the police about Scarfe’s shooting. The whole department is tasked with finding Scarf, who is now being openely investigated for corruption and even though the chief still holds Scarf high on her list of suspects, Misty remains seemingly unconvinced. The chief partners her with Investigator Perez and, though she doesn’t know it, Misty now has yet another crooked cop by her side. Misty uses her “Misty sense” to envision what Scarf might have been up to at his home and opens up to Perez about her relationship with Scarfe, who is being patched up back at Pop’s Barber Shop. When Scarfe admits that he killed Chico, Luke is ready to leave him to die, but Scarfe reveals that he has notes back at his apartment that can put Cottonmouth away for good. Luke immediately heads to Scarfe’s apartment and finds his notes, evading Misty and Perez, and heads back to the shop where they decide the best course of action is to take Scarfe to One Police Plaza and turn in the evidence. Unfortunately, their plan does not go smoothly, as everyone including Misty, Perez, and Cottonmouth’s men are all looking Scarfe. Eventually, Cottonmouth’s men find them, leading to a car crash
Misty figures out that Perez, is dirty and sets up a means to trap him. She pretends to receive a phone call from Scarf saying that Perez is dirty which leads Perez to incriminate himself. She captures the confession on tape and comes to blows with Perez while Luke fends off Cottonmouth’s men and Mariah fends off an attack from from a journalist. After shaking off Perez, Misty arrives at the scene just in time to see Scarfe succumb to his injuries and die in her arms.
The episode ends with Scarfe’s evidence against Cottonmouth being brought to light and Cottonmouth’s subsequent arrest. Luke has won this battle, but it has come at a cost and victory, in this case, may be a fleeting thing.
While this episode was by no means a favorite of mine, it still contained many interesting reveals and nicely sets up the next episode.
I wasn’t sure whether they would actually kill Scarfe or not. Sure, he’d been shot and was bleeding out but he still had a chance to survive and go to jail. That is, until Misty mentioned that his son accidentally killed himself with his gun. At that moment, I knew that like Pop before him – the sudden reveal of a tragic relationship with a son, spelled imminent doom for Scarfe. And although the episode gives him a sort of redeeming hero’s death, I was glad to see him go. I was happy to see him get shot. The series thus far has only revealed him to be crooked for two episodes or so and since this reveal, there has been little to showcase any conflict he feels about betraying Misty or being a goffer for Cottonmouth. He killed Chico, put trackers on Misty’s phone, and even tried to extort Cottonmouth all while having a devil may care attitude about it. During this episode they attempt to show a bit of humanity in Scarfe mainly through Misty’s exposition. For me, these scenes, including the “Misty vision” in his apartment, his story about the son that accidentally shot himself, and her insistence that he was there for her after she got promoted to detective, felt forced. Like, they wanted his eventual death to tug at your heartstrings but didn’t have a way to make that happen naturally. As a result, I still have no qualms about Scarfe’s death, I’m annoyed by the “hero’s exit” he received, and mainly, I just feel bad for Misty. Her reaction to Scarfe’s death was probably her best performance of the series thus far and I felt for her, not him.
Although they dropped that ball on Scarfe, Mariah and Cottonmouth continue to give me chills. As the events of the episode unfold, you get to see the chinks in their armor. Cottonmouth is very reactionary, often having to deal with the messes he creates after the fact, while Mariah is more conniving and meticulous.
There is an excellent scene here where Mariah is talking to Cottonmouth where you see the conflict in their characters rise to a bubble. She urges him to sell the club. She can see how tall he is able to stand – how tall he stood at Pop’s funeral. But Cottonmouth is unwilling to back down to Cage. She then tells him to take him out, but Cottonmouth says that Luke is bulletproof. Her response gave me chills, “Does the Nigga have gills? Is he fire proof? Can you poison him? Does he have a girl? Find his weakness and squeeze.” With this line, Mariah has shown how hard and cut throat she can be and I love her for it. The scene also caused me to wonder which of the two cousins is more cut out for this business. The look he gives her hints at potential trouble brewing. He sees how dangerous she can be and the audience can too.
Luke Cage also makes an appearance in this episode as well… Just thought I’d throw that out there since he seems to have the least amount of motivation of any of the characters. I personally felt that, as far as standout characters Claire, Mariah, and eventually Misty took this episode and ran off with it. And while I am enjoying the show, the music, the blaxploitation vibes, and the villain, I feel that Luke himself needs to be just as engaging if not more so.