[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Luke Cage season one, episode three, "Who's Gonna Take the Weight?"]
Not even supersleuth Misty Knight (Simone Missick) could have seen that early big twist coming on Luke Cage.
At the end of the third episode of the Netflix drama, Misty's partner, Det. Rafael Scarfe (Frank Whaley), shocked viewers when - instead of helping on-the-run key witness Wilfredo "Chico" Diaz (Brian "Sene" Marc) inform on Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes (Mahershala Ali) - he killed him by choking him with his tie, and calmly putting it right back on. It turns out that Scarfe had been on Cottonmouth's payroll for years, and helped cover up Chico's disappearance and also gave Cottonmouth Luke's (Mike Colter) address, resulting in Cottonmouth blowing up Ghengis Connie's with Luke still inside.
There had been no clues presented in any of the early episodes of Luke Cage to suggest that Misty's partner on the NYPD and personal mentor was dirty, so the twist comes as a huge surprise, especially since Misty has no idea. She trusts Scarfe with her life, but now it's unclear whether or not Scarfe actually has her back. This reveal changes everything for the supposed "good guys" going forward.
According to Whaley, no one outside of the writers and showrunner knew about the Scarfe twist going into production of season one.
"Honestly, we knew very little going into each episode," Whaley tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We read each script at the beginning of production of each episode. So no, I didn't know this twist [going into the series]."
Both Whaley and Missick burst out into laughter when recalling the moment that everyone read the script for episode three and learned that Scarfe was actually working for Cottonmouth.
"We were all shocked at the table read," Whaley says. "I was glad, because I loved that reveal. It's fun to play that kind of villainous side."
Before he knew about that twist, Whaley wasn't sure where Scarfe's motivations were coming from or what was driving him, so he was grateful to finally understand what was going on with his character.
"It gives the guy a certain amount of complexity that you can toy around with and play with," Whaley says. "I was glad to have that."
While Missick jokes that she's still "holding a grudge" against Scarfe for how he's betraying her character, she applauds the writers for taking that leap with Scarfe and Cottonmouth.
"None of us knew any of the big twists or moments until we got each script, so we had the same reactions as the audience will," Missick says. "I can't wait to see how the fans react once they get to the end of that episode. And then we'll finally be able to talk about it too, which it's been so hard to keep this a secret."
But when asked if they consider Scarfe to be a bad guy in light of the twist and because of his association with Cottonmouth, both Whaley and Missick had to pause to think before answering.
"That's a good question. I don't," Whaley says. "And it's not really my job to judge him like that. But I would say that he's a very conflicted guy and probably has a lot of issues coming into the show with some stuff in his past that led him down that road. I know that he's solid with his partner. I think he has a good heart. But I think there's a dark side to him."
He pauses again, and then continues, "Maybe he's a little bit greedy and bitter about certain things. But I think there's good and evil in everyone. I don't like to think of him as purely evil. None of that stuff that he does is justified, but I see his relationship with his partner and I think that, in the end, he feels horrible about betraying her and how the way things turned out."
Although Missick doesn't like the path that Scarfe has gone down, she agrees with Whaley.
"I don't consider him to be a bad guy," Missick says. "He just made some bad choices. I look at how he is with Misty, and I think that's genuine. I had no idea this twist was coming, and I still can't believe it. And the way it's revealed was just so perfect. It really makes for a jaw-dropping moment. I'll never forget the way we all reacted to learning about it. I wish I could tell Misty because she has no idea."
Luke Cage season one is now streaming on Netflix.