This week on Black Lightning, Jefferson continued rising up against the ASA, defying Commander Williams’s attempt to seize the elderly Mrs. Shepard’s apartment building. Meanwhile, Gambi and Anissa worked to send a message to the world outside Freeland exposing what the ASA was doing, Jennifer and Brandon continued getting to know each other, and Lynn discovered the true depths of the ASA’s depravity.
1. OK Boomer
At the start of the episode, it’s revealed Tobias Whale was born in 1946, meaning he is chronologically 73, meaning this whole time the Pierce family has been at the mercy at someone who’s probably going senile. (That serum might’ve kept his body young, but I’ve seen no evidence it does the same for his mind, given how he talks to his sister’s ghost.) Depending on when filming wrapped, I imagine we’ll see someone provoking Whale by calling him a boomer at some point this season or during the next.
2. Who the Hell is Khalil?
Things escalate on this episode when Jefferson is asked to negotiate with the elderly Mrs. Shepard, a teacher (who deals weed on the side) he’s known since he was a child. She makes me realize he’s doing the wrong thing, and so Black Lightning emerges to take on the ASA, and is joined by Anissa (finally donning her Thunder costume for the first time this season), and Henderson’s rebels, who defiantly tell Commander Williams they’re not working with them anymore.
It leads to an excellent showdown where Painkiller is sent into the building, but Thunder’s learned from their last encounter and skillfully evades his poisonous touch throughout their second battle. She smashes his glasses, and discovers his true identity Winter Soldier-style. Like that comic and its film version though, she can’t do much more than react as he doesn’t recognize that name and pounces, forcing her to blast him out the window.
3. Gambi Didn’t Think This Through
Gambi goes to an abandoned facility to broadcast Jamillah’s report, where he encounters Baron/TC, a pod kid with the power to communicate with machines. He’s another excellent new character introduced this week, he may not be a weed dealing, guntoting old lady, but I love the idea he’s hiding here because the old analog machines are far less noisy than modern smart technology. What’s funny is when Gambi is trying to prove he’s not part of the ASA, he says he would’ve just broadcast his message from one of their outposts, leading me to wonder – why he didn’t he just sneak in with his hologram mask? Oh well, it all worked for the best in the end.
4. That Was Quick
Two moments made me a chuckle a lot in this episode: the first was unintentional, as it was Anissa suddenly showing up to help Gambi and TC at the facility immediately after defeating Khalil – those commercial breaks are really convenient shortcut.
The second, definitely more intentional laugh was when we’re reminded Commander Williams has the power to mimic other metahumans’ abilities – admit it, you completely forgot didn’t you? – and decides to fight Black Lightning with his own electrical powers. However, as Jefferson reminds him, he’s got a suit to protect his body from his own powers hurting him, and Williams concedes he has a point as he collapses: funniest anticlimax since the Swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
5. Run Lynn Run
Jefferson’s betrayal means the ASA decides to keep Lynn in lockdown, but Gambi’s sensors alert him to what they’re doing and he gives instructions for her to escape over radio before that happens. It’s a nailbiting scene, which demonstrates how Lynn is failing apart – she wastes time by grabbing all her modified Green Light pills – and the growing dissent in the ASA ranks – a soldier lets her pass, feigning ignorance about their new orders. As with all things Black Lightning, you have to wonder if it’ll pay off next time or the episode after that.
– Honestly, Jen and Brandon’s story was just marking time this week.
– Music was more interesting this week: it got all ’80s thriller when Gambi entered the facility, and sounded like a Slavic fiddle when Brandon began ranting about Dr. Jace and the Markovians.
– Why is Lynn so shocked about the ASA’s storage of Green Light when she’s using an altered version of the drug?
See you all for the midseason finale next week folks – there probably won’t be any hint of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” even with Jefferson’s participation in that, but we’ll see…