Going into episode 3 of “Luke Cage” things are set up nicely: Luke is ready to take down criminal activity in Harlem, Cornell is continuing on with his shady activity with his cousin Mariah and while we may have lost Pops, Chico is still alive and may want to talk when he’s recovered. Also, Luke knows that Misty is a detective, so he will be able to avoid her a bit better now that he’s going rogue.
We picked up episode three at the funeral parlor where Pop is going to be received at and Cornell and Luke have a chance to talk. Luke calls him out on not standing by his word and letting Pop get killed, but Cornell tells him that he had nothing to do with it and that it was a rogue employee that is now dealt with. We also see that Cornell has a deeper relationship with this funeral home as the funeral director is paid to make Tone’s body disappear.
Luke learns through Fish that if he wants to stop the bank from rolling in and taking Pop’s barbershop then he’s gotta find 80 grand to pay off the debts owing. Luke wants to hurt Cornell and keep the shop open by robbing Mariah. First he needs intel and he gets some the inside scoop on Cornell’s operations from Chico. He learns that all of Cornell’s cash ends up in one spot which is where Mariah has set up shop, but before it does it ends up in stash houses around Harlem. Luke starts hitting Cornell’s other stash houses and the trick works. Cornell moves all his money to Mariah’s shop and once she leaves for the night, then the real fun begins as Luke breaks in and destroys the place (and plenty a pile of goons) to get to the money.
Misty is after Luke, not because she wants another round in the sack with him, but because he’s the only person she knows that worked for both Cornell and Pop’s and now that there are three dead bodies connected to all this. She’s thinking that Luke is the link to it all, especially after the hit on Cornell’s big stash house. All of the money was left behind and with all the gun fire and not one body hit, she remembers seeing the bullet holes in Luke’s shirt but not in his body. She’s also having a difference of opinion with her partner, Scarfe, who thinks that this vigilante is doing the police department a favor, where she thinks it’s dangerous.
The second part of Luke’s plan is to have Chico meet up with Scarfe and tell him everything he knows about Cornell to help put him away. What we didn’t expect and caught us completely off guard (which for a TV reviewer doesn’t happen often) was watching Scarfe take off his tie and strangle Chico to death… clearly he’s in Cornell’s back pocket. Scarfe meets up with Cornell and tells him that Luke Cage is behind everything and gives him Luke’s home address. He brings a rocket launcher to Genghis Connie’s and blows the whole building down with Luke and Connie in it.
We do have to note that we had one of the weirdest product placements we’ve ever seen on a show when we saw Domingo walk up to Cornell, pull out a Milky Way bar and start eating it while threatening him to get him his product back or war will be had. It was super strange and didn’t work at all, especially since eating a sticky candy bar makes for hard to understand dialogue even if the story is about picking things out of his teeth.
One of the things we love most about the Netflix superhero shows are the actions sequences (with “Daredevil” season 1 being top of the pop) and this episode gave us that in spades. Watching Luke grab a car door and use is as a battering ram to smack bad guys around was terrifying, but even more brilliant was seeing him wrap that car door about a guy like a cozy fall blanket on a cold day and laying him out for a nap. Also taking out a group of guys with a couch was something we never thought we would see. If for no other reason, fans need to watch this episode just for that scene. Episode grade: B+
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