'Luke Cage' Stars Break Down "Brutal" Death in Episode 6

"There was even a moment or two where they thought maybe I would stay, but it's hard because these stories are plotted out so far in advance of production," one of the stars of Netflix's newest Marvel drama tells THR.
Courtesy of Netflix

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Luke Cage episode six, "Suckas Need Bodyguards."]

Detective Scarfe's (Frank Whaley) corruption cost him the ultimate price on Netflix's recently released Marvel drama Luke Cage.

Misty Knight's (Simone Missick) mentor and partner had been working for Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes (Mahershala Ali) behind her back, but after trying to squeeze Cottonmouth for a bigger payout for his work in episode six, Cottonmouth shot him.

Scarfe managed to escape and get help from Luke (Mike Colter) and Claire (Rosario Dawson), but that's when the audience learned the tragic history Scarfe had been hiding from everyone: his young son accidentally found his gun and shot and killed himself. It finally clicked why Scarfe had made all the decisions he made up to this point, but his fallout with Cottonmouth opened his eyes to all of his mistakes. 

Scarfe tried to do the right thing in the end, offering to testify against Cottonmouth by using his detailed notes to bring him down. But after Luke saved his life (again) by stopping a car from hitting him and Claire (with Misty witnessing the whole shocking event), Scarfe died in Misty's arms. His evidence did lead to Cottonmouth's arrest, but Misty was horrified to learn that her superiors wanted to cover the whole thing up.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Whaley and Missick about the game-changing episode, that "brutal" death scene and more.

Learning that Scarfe's son accidentally shot and killed himself with his gun was heartbreaking. What was your reaction when you read that in the script?

Whaley: It gave me some clues into why he goes in that direction. It lends a certain amount of sympathy to the character. It's just really sad. It's hard. Life is a journey and it's hard to get through things like that. It's a heartbreaking thing that happened. It's clear he always blamed himself for what happened with his son. It was his gun, it never should have happened. And that's a real thing that happens constantly [in society]. It's so sad.

How is finding out about Scarfe's corruption, and then witnessing his death, going to affect Misty going forward?

Missick: Scarfe is such a huge part of Misty's world. He's a part of her personal life and her work life. She trusts him with her life. For a woman, Misty has this power of Misty-vision. She can look at a picture and she can see the full story. For her to be that blind to this person that she trusted so much, it really shatters her sense of self. It really makes it difficult to trust her instincts, where before, she was so self-assured. She was so successful. They closed so many cases together. She's young but very accomplished. To have this so close to the bone and so close to home for her, it starts Misty on a journey and on a path that is not where she starts out.

What was that like for you to portray?

Missick: It's a wonderful gift to be able to explore that. Everybody has colors and shades. When we read that about Scarfe's family and his son, it creates this compassion as the character for him and what he's gone through, and an understanding that it's not just about me. Him making those decisions was more about him and not about me and that's hard in the moment to be OK with. It takes Misty a while to get to the point where she accepts that it was not her fault and she was not responsible for Scarfe's death or for him taking that turn. But it takes her a while to get there.

Whaley: I think people, in that line of work, they live on the edge. It's an easy ledge to fall off if you're not careful. For him, it might have been marriage problems along the way, maybe booze and then the thing with his son, that's the kind of thing that was the turning point.

What was it like filming that death scene?

Missick: It was hard.

Whaley: Those kinds of scenes are brutal to film for many reasons, emotionally, and it was the end of the line for the character and that's sad. But also the good thing about this show is that that scene was actually filmed in lower Manhattan in an alleyway on the street in the middle of the night in the cold. It's not difficult to find the physical resonance there but it was tough.

Did you know from the beginning of the series that your time was going to be limited on the show?

Whaley: I did. I didn't know to what degree or extent. They're very good about keeping everybody in the dark so nobody reveals anything. I didn't know if it was a couple episodes or five or eight or 10, I didn't know. I was pleased every time I got called back into the group. I was happy until I got that final script.

Missick: I was heartbroken. He didn't tell me. He knew he was there for only a limited amount and I did not so when I read it, I literally was screaming, "No! What am I going to do?" Honestly, it was difficult, not even just that day that we filmed it, but I actually felt like I was losing Frank, not just Misty losing Scarfe. So that was real for me. But then after that, it was so perfect as an actor because he was truly gone and missed by me. As an actor, you create this relationship and have this wonderful chemistry and then you feel like you are kind of alone, which helped play into Misty as the character as the season progressed. Why did you leave me, Frank?

Whaley: I didn't want to! And there was even a moment or two where they thought maybe I would stay, but it's hard because these stories are plotted out so far in advance of production.

They considered changing the story to keep you?

Missick: I think what happens is they plot out these characters and these storylines but they get these actors and they go, "Oh god, why did we paint ourselves into that corner? We would love for him to live. We want him to survive but we still have to stay true to this story."

Whaley: But you never know. Maybe he comes back in the after life. Anything can happen. I mean they brought back Fuller House, but they can't bring Scarfe back?!

Missick: It's so funny. The way he looks at [Alfre Woodard], that's the same way that I look at him. To have him as an acting partner, it was such a gift because he's so seasoned and professional and awesome at what he does. I miss him.

Whaley: [Laughs] This is why I like to work with the kids.

Luke Cage season one is now streaming in full on Netflix.