Yes, that is a very long title: this was originally listed as being called “Aches and Pains,” which is what our veteran hero is dealing with throughout this episode. Also this week, Anissa began uncovering what happened to her grandfather Alvin; Jennifer’s superstrength emerged after she got into a fight with a couple of bullies at a roller rink; and Tobias and Tori confronted their daddy issues.
1. Iron Man
Before all that, Jefferson gets his Tony Stark by practicing using his powers as repulsors to fly around Freeland. It was lovely to see him enjoy his powers for a bit. Then the whole moment becomes more like Iron Man in another way, with Black Lightning spotting an altercation between police and a Green Light user that threatens to turn lethal, with the superhero stepping in stop the junkie from being shot. After knocking him out, Black Lightning orders the officers to take the young man to the hospital, and fearsomely reminds them to use a taser instead. The whole incident brought to mind the Gulmira sequence in the first Iron Man film, except instead of defending civilians from terrorists, Black Lightning has to protect them from the worst instincts of the police: it really epitomized the issues these different heroes have to face.
2. Back-story everywhere
Back-story details started leaking from the start and it was blinding: we learned Gambi knows Whale (which explains his odd behavior at the end of “LaWanda: The Book of Burial” may have been committed under duress), and that Whale uses a potion that prevents him from ageing. Then we started to learn the circumstances of Alvin Pierce’s murder, who investigated a vaccine that gave children superpowers. Could those have been the cause of Jefferson’s abilities? Does that tie into Whale’s eternal youth? Hopefully we’ll get answers soon, and they’ll make sense too.
3. Sins of the Father
While the back-story is still light on details, we got a lot of emotional insight into Tobias and his sister Tori, with us meeting their father Eldridge, who is the man responsible for Whale’s self-hatred. Practically, it saved the showrunners having to find an albino child actor, but it also symbolically showed how certain people still make you feel like a child. You’d think Whale would’ve resolved his issues with his father years ago, but with Black Lightning back from the dead, you imagine he feels he has to face his demons once and for all if he wants to progress in Lady Eve’s organization.
It’s a testament to how Whale’s been fleshed out in previous episodes that you briefly wonder if he would forgive his father and leave him to die in poverty. In a way he did, because he technically paralyzed him instead of killing him. That’s the cruelest way to spare someone I’ve ever seen.
4. School’s out
Surprisingly, we didn’t see Jefferson as a high school principal at all this week, with most of the episode following his nighttime escapades. You’d think the stress of running a school would’ve compounded that of being a vigilante, so there was a missed opportunity there to highlight how a lack of sleep could be causing his inability to think clearly, a problem that leads to his inevitable humiliation by Joey Toledo.
What’s your favorite superhero starting outfit? Is it Spider-Man’s homemade Homecoming outfit, Captain America’s USO costume from The First Avenger, or Daredevil’s black Season 1 duds? Anissa’s initial blue costume with a blonde wig has to be one of the downright funniest and campiest so far. It brings to mind Nightwing’s gaudy original costume from Wolfman and Pérez’s “Teen Titans” run.
It’s quite funny how an episode revealing Jennifer likes to borrow Anissa’s clothes would contain the genesis of her Thunder costume. It is interesting how the motif of superhero vigilantism as fetish from “The Book of Burial” has also made its way back into the series. I found the shot of Anissa’s rear when she tears her latex outfit a bit much though.
– Between Whale’s dad, Jefferson and Lynn’s approaches to telling off Jennifer, and Jefferson’s reluctance to talk to Anissa about her grandfather, the whole episode is just a series of parenting contrasts.
– It appears Joey Toledo was the henchman sent to kill Black Lightning. It’s hard to believe this skinny slimeball could’ve ever defeated Black Lightning, but then he did fail to kill him.
See you in a couple of weeks: “Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder” doesn’t air until February 27.