[Review] Luke Cage Episode 1×03: “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?”

written by K.C. White

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

I’m going to go ahead and let you know that I don’t really read comics. True story. Short of Strangers In Paradise by Terry Moore, The Boondocks by Aaron McGruder, and a brief stint with the X-Men in the late 1990s, y’all can just call me Jon Snow because I know nothing.

What I do know is that I love the Luke Cage series and the absolute, unapologetic BLACKNESS of it. I’m sure you’ve already heard this, but y’all: this is the most black black blackity blackity black black black thing I’ve seen in a long time, and I am here for every black-ass black second of it. ‘Cos it’s black, y’all.

Episode 3 of Luke Cage is all about consequences. Not only do we have the aftermath of Episode 2 to deal with, we get to watch and shake our heads as damn near every character refuses to learn anything, and goes crashing into the next disaster. Which is handy because we wouldn’t have a show without any of this, right? Right!

What fascinates me is almost every character’s insistence on letting their mouth write a check their ass can’t cash. Not even five minutes into the show, there’s a face-off between Luke and Cottonmouth over Pop’s casket, where Cottonmouth takes every opportunity to make a jab at Luke: he can’t afford to give his mentor a decent burial, he’s unemployed, he cut himself shaving, he’s feeling less than fresh this morning, anything is a target! When Luke leaves him with “I’m just getting started”, everyone watching is thinking “Awwwww, hell!” But since Cottonmouth has a body count higher than his IQ, he completely misses the “you done fucked up” undertones of the statement, laughs, and walks out with one last taunt…and a chuckle. Because villain.

After a scene with Chico (the worst liar ever…pobrecito) and the detectives, we get treated to a scene which did two things: it made me dislike Luke a bit, and it set up the shitstorm that comes at the end of the episode. Luke pisses me off by taunting Misty (Detective Knight, if you nasty) about their night together in front of her co-worker. I get some people think it’s funny, but it was extremely uncomfortable to watch a woman be embarrassed and undermined while just doing her job. But it’s actually something essential to the plot, as his mouth ends up…wait for it…writing a check his ass can’t cash.

Cottonmouth’s and Luke’s own words come back to bite them in the ass in this episode, and I am here for all of it. Almost every character does or says something regrettable in this episode, and they suffer the consequences. The beauty is they may never know that their own words, their own need to assert power over someone else, is what made this happen. Cottonmouth pays for his need to dominate Luke. Luke pays for his need to embarrass Misty. This show doesn’t always keep its hands clean, though. Much like Pop, Chico pays for his need to do the right thing in a scene that left my jaw hanging. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Episode 3 begins with the fallout from a senseless act of violence, and ends with a new act of violence. (Who uses a rocket launcher? Honestly?) It’s a vicious cycle, and while we don’t know how it will end, it’s not hard to see the words that led to all of this.

*Shout-Out Section*

  • Shout-out to the writers for referencing “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Chico and the Man”.
  • Shout-out to the obvious references to The Cotton Club.
  • Shout-out to the New York Undercover fans involved with the show who definitely had some infuence on the club scenes. We see you, and we thank you!
  • Shout-out to Mariah’s ability to jam almost every freaking black name possible into the title of her community center, while somehow managing to leave out Langston Hughes.
  • Shout-out to the writers for acknowledging colorism with the “Black Mariah” mention.
  • Shout-out to the musical directors of the show. Starting off with Charles Bradley then taking it to Wu-Tang…things like this make the show for me. Keep schooling these fools on music, son!

Luke Cage is available now on Netflix. K.C. can be reached on Twitter @evil_kinegro.

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