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Recap / Luke Cage S1E3 "Who's Gonna Take the Weight?"

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Luke decides to hit Cottonmouth where it hurts—his money. Meanwhile, Misty and Scarfe deal with Chico, and circle closer to Luke's identity.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • The Alcatraz: Crispus Attucks is described as this by Chico. Not only do they have vision to see any potential incoming attackers, but also only one way in or out.
  • Arc Words: "Forward. Always."
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Misty figures out that Luke is responsible for raiding Cottonmouth's warehouses and Crispus Attucks based on the bullet holes from Luke's tattered shirt from the attack on Pops' barbershop.
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  • Berserk Button: Just like her cousin, Mariah Dillard does not react well when Stokes, already angry because of Luke attacking Crispus Attucks and his other stash houses, calls her by her nickname "Black Mariah," causing her to pick up her martini glass and chuck it at his head while angrily telling him not to call her that.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: This episode makes it clear that Cottonmouth is no Wilson Fisk. First, Domingo openly defies him after the gun heist, asking for either the guns or his money back, or else a war that Cottonmouth will almost certainly lose. Later, Scarfe uses that exact same nonchalance with him, knowing full well that Cottonmouth can't afford to kill him. For comparison, when Nobu insulted Fisk after losing the Black Sky and not having his apartment building ready, Fisk was able to pacify him by redirecting the hostilities at Matt Murdock. And the corrupt cops in Fisk's pocket know that they are expendable since he pretty much controls the 15th precinct.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Twice:
    • Cottonmouth insults Luke to his face, well aware that Luke blames him for Pop's death. However, he does have some excuse, as he is not yet aware that Luke could easily rip his head off.
    • Scarfe does have useful information for Cottonmouth, having come to deliver Chico's body and sell out Luke Cage to him. But the extremely obnoxious way he goes about giving it to this psychopath is asking for trouble.
  • Bring It: Luke delivers this gesture before taking out the punks at Crispus Attucks. It's so calmly done, which makes it all the more badass.
  • Ceiling Smash: During his raid of Crispus Attucks, Luke throws a henchman into the ceiling pretty casually.
  • Chess Motif: Luke explains to Bobby Fish that he's not gonna go directly after Cottonmouth (King), he's gonna go after Mariah (Queen), the knights and the rooks.
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  • Cops Need the Vigilante: When Misty and Scarfe are conversing about how vigilantes aren't restricted by the rules and regulations cops have, Scarfe comments about seeing the Incident up-close and remarks that "unless this sidearm that I'm wearing suddenly turns into some kind of magic hammer, this whole job is irrelevant." Misty disagrees and doesn't see vigilantes as any more than a thorn keeping the cops from doing their job.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The henchmen in Crispus Attucks can't even hurt Luke as he plows through them.
  • Dirty Cop: Scarfe is on Cottonmouth's payroll and makes a deal with him after killing Chico, the sole key witness to the arms deal heist.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Learning about the robbery of a couple Cottonmouth dealers by a couple of Domingo's men, Luke decides to hit up the stash houses knowing full well that Cottonmouth will think Domingo is behind them and move his remaining money to Crispus Attucks.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Cottonmouth tells the coroner, "Nothing humbles a man like gravity" when explaining the death of Tone, who died when Cottonmouth threw him off a building. Cottonmouth will also die in part due to gravity.
    • Cottonmouth showing that he'll push Mariah's Berserk Button in a fit of anger becomes important when he later pisses off Mariah so much that she kills him.
  • Hallway Fight: Luke Cage attacks Crispus Attucks, the location of Cottonmouth's main stash, using his Super Strength to bulldoze his way through Cottonmouth's henchmen in three different hallways before finding the vault where all of the money is stashed.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Scarfe does in one night what everyone else on Cottonmouth's payroll couldn't: Kill Chico and identify who has been hitting him and where he is. There is a reason he acts all smug.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Cottonmouth accuses Domingo of being the one behind the attacks on his stash houses, but Domingo says, "If my people were to hit you, you'd be dead. Muerto."
  • In Medias Res: The episode starts with an outside view of Crispus Attucks during Luke's rampage inside, as gunfire rings out and a couch is thrown out the window. After the credits, we see everything that happened during the day leading up to this.
  • Internal Reveal: To count:
    • Scarfe learns that Misty slept with Luke.
    • Misty learns that Luke is the vigilante.
    • Cottonmouth learns from Scarfe that Luke is the one attacking his organization, and his home address.
    • Luke learns from Chico that Crispus Attucks is Cottonmouth's central bank, and that Cottonmouth didn't order Pop's death.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: The stoned woman in one of the stash houses tells Misty, when pressed to give a description about Luke, "He was fine." Smash cut to Mariah angrily asking Cottonmouth, "What do you mean, everything is fine?" This one takes advantage of the double entendre for using "fine"—describing Luke and the situation for Mariah and Cottonmouth at present.
  • Killer Cop: Scarfe kills Chico.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • During an argument with Mariah Dillard, Cornell calls her "Black Mariah," a reference to her comic identity. Mariah HATES being called that.
    • Cottonmouth firing a bazooka at Cage is a direct reference to the cover of Luke Cage, Power Man #20, Cottonmouth's very second appearance in the comics.
  • The Napoleon: Domingo appears to be a soft-spoken version of this; he clearly enjoys provoking Cottonmouth, and is short compared to him.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Chico decides to step up and take responsibility for his actions; his confession to his crime gets him killed by Scarfe.
    • Luke finally pays his rent and for the window he smashed, and then gets the whole restaurant destroyed by a rocket launcher.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Crispus Attucks has only one entrance and exit. Either Harlem has decayed to the point that New York City planners can't be bothered to tell them, "You guys seriously need to put in a fire exit or two," that fire exit does exist but has been boarded up, or Cottonmouth is so determined to protect his stash that he overlooked the fact that his money is highly flammable.
  • Oh, Crap!: Several.
    • The reaction one henchman has to finding Luke coming up on him from behind a barred door.
    • Luke saying "Sweet sister!" when he sees Cottonmouth's bazooka coming at him.
  • Proscenium Reveal: Misty seems to be standing there watching Luke as he leaves Crispus Attucks. Then it turns out she's once again looking at the crime scene photos on her wall at the precinct.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Scarfe seems to enjoy this a bit too much. First, he kills Chico with his own necktie, which he puts back on after doing the deed. Then he confronts Cottonmouth, helps himself to alcohol from the bar, puts his feet up on the counter, and generally acts disrespectful. All this to a man who had just been in the middle of a heated argument with Mariah, and who is perfectly capable and visibly wants to kill him.
  • The Reveal: Scarfe turns out to be a dirty cop working for Cottonmouth.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Luke's striding through Crispus Attucks unfazed by bullets is an allusion to the police station massacre of The Terminator.
    • Scarfe comments that "Chico is the man."
  • Smug Snake: Cottonmouth's associates and henchmen love to act all smug and superior to him when he fucks up.
    • Domingo Colon walks into Cottonmouth's club, insults him to his face multiple times, demands a refund for his money that was stolen from Cottonmouth, ostentatiously litters Milky Way wrappers in his club while getting in his personal space, and caps it off by declaring war on his organization. Cottonmouth can barely hold himself back from killing him right there and then, while Domingo laughs in his face.
    • Scarfe gives off this vibe when he sees Cottonmouth, acting in an extremely disrespectful way and seeming totally convinced that his police shield makes him unassailable. Cottonmouth only retaliates by calling Scarfe "Virginia Slim"note , instead of killing him, if only because Scarfe has killed Chico and also told them who's been hitting their stash houses.
  • Storming the Castle: When Luke Cage invades Crispus Attucks.
  • Straw Nihilist: Scarfe's speech to Misty about how irrelevant a cop's job is in the age of superheroes suggests this.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Cottonmouth doesn't yet know that Luke is invulnerable, so going after him with a bazooka would seem like this, though the audience knows this level of force is completely appropriate. It still isn't enough given that Luke had previously survived Kilgrave ordering him to blow up his own bar. However, Cottonmouth does know that Luke just walked out of a fight with over 20 heavily armed men, so he's probably being pragmatic.
  • This Means War!: Domingo pays a visit to Cottonmouth to demand a refund for the arms deal heist, and declares war on him after Cottonmouth refuses to give him back the money.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Cottonmouth has one of these after Luke tears through Crispus Attucks, causing the police to seize all of his money and Mariah's name to be dragged through the dirt. Cottonmouth begins smashing objects in his bar with a baseball bat. He's able to calm down a bit when Scarfe shows up to inform him that A) he's killed Chico and B) he knows who and where the man hitting the stash houses is.
  • Wham Episode: Scarfe is revealed to be a dirty cop on Cottonmouth's payroll, and sells Luke out to Cottonmouth.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once Chico tells Scarfe about Luke, he gets strangled to death by a tie.


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