Marvel’s Luke Cage episode 3 viewing notes: Who’s Gonna Take The Weight?

Our episode-by-episode companion viewing notes to Marvel's Luke Cage reach the third instalment of this superbly written show...

Luke Cage is back! In his own show! And so are our Marvel-Netflix episode notes where we’ll do a bit of commentary and reference-spotting for each episode of the series. Feel free to read along as you watch too, but please don’t spoil future episodes for anyone in the comments!

Episode 3 had some powerful scenes, not least Pop’s funeral, but this is where the show’s pacing really starts to become clear. It’s obvious that Luke Cage is a superbly written show – easily of a quality far higher than anything else Marvel has put on TV so far – but it’s considerably lighter on action.

I find the additional breathing space really helps us flesh out the characters and world, but it also means I’m not getting the fanboy thrills that Daredevil gives me. I find myself nodding in academic appreciation of the writing rather than truly excited about what comes next. When they do come, the action scenes are great, and Luke really earns the name Power Man in this episode – but when a character has powers, I really think it’s fun to see them used multiple times an episode. I’m interested to hear how other people are engaging with the show on this level.

I did also like how this episode had Misty and her partner, Scarfe, talking about superheroes and having what was essentially the Captain America: Civil War argument. Scarfe is clearly happy for vigilantes to be vigilantes as long as they’re busting the right people (that puts him on Team Cap). Misty Knight would prefer that they were working within the system (a solid Team Iron Man.)

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Of course, they don’t outright mention the Sokovia Accords, but as with all shared universe stories you can make the connection if you wish. If this was a comic that would’ve been enough for Marvel to put a “Civil War” banner on it anyway! For reference, Misty Knight was on the Pro-Registration (Iron Man) team back during the actual Civil War comics crossover, so that’s accurate.

In terms of actual references and easter eggs…

Mariah is actually called “Black Mariah” in this episode. Although she doesn’t care for the name, understandably so.

Scarfe turning out to be crooked is similar to his comic book appearances, where he spent a lot of time as one of New York’s recurring, morally ambiguous cops before going properly rogue during the Shadowland crossover. The story in which Scarfe and Misty tangle is Shadowland: Blood On The Streets (2010).

Unusually, Domingo is NOT based on an existing Marvel character. Not even the name. I’m actually surprised!

You may have noticed that Marvel seems to enjoy having fights set in hallways. Logically it’s because the confined space and layout can be used to create some crazy stunts and great visuals, but Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Captain America: Civil War, now Luke Cage… one wonders if there aren’t other places you can potentially fight. Like that giant empty desert from Dragonball.

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Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Luke’s bullet-riddled hoodie is (intentionally or otherwise) evocative of the real-life Trayvon Martin murder. But that as the promo material has been keen to say: the time is right for a bullet-proof black man. It almost feels like the whole series is a response to real-life events.

Remember: keep the discussion as far as episode 3 only, please!

Read James’ viewing notes on episode 2, Code Of The Streets, here.