This week’s Black Lightning began with a bang when Wendy Hernandez – one of the metahuman children from 30 years ago – was inadvertently awoken and escaped from cryo imprisonment. While Jefferson tracked down the missing girl, Lynn counseled the resurrected Green Light Baby Issa Williams. Oh, and Jefferson had to deal with the consequences of stepping down as principal, Anissa got a new girlfriend, and Whale went about cleaning loose ends. (It’s a packed show friends.)
1. Villain of the Week
One thing the showrunners said when the show began is that it would eschew a villain of the week structure for a serialized storyline. There’s so much more screentime for Issa in this episode than Wendy, that probably the only reason she was written in was because the production team realized, “oh snap, we need a reason for Jefferson to be in the costume this week but haven’t got any!” His tracking her down gives a small throughline for the episode, so that it has one satisfying resolution this week, but it’s clear the show is more preoccupied with all the Pierces’ personal drama. I personally wouldn’t mind an episode where Jefferson or Anissa didn’t don their outfits if it meant we didn’t have a rushed, additional storyline like Wendy’s.
2. Anissa Trying to be Carefree
To be fair to the writers, they did set up a conflict between Black Lightning and Thunder, his Batman-esque clashing with her Spider-Man-style basking in the crowd’s adoration. (He sarcastically asks if a Thunder Instagram page is next, which reminds me, wasn’t it weird Spider-Man had a Twitter page in the PlayStation 4 game? Talk about a security hazard.) Anissa spends a lot of the episode struggling to balance working as a vigilante, attending medical school, and having fun. She starts dating singer Zoe B. (Andy Allo), only to spot her previous partner Grace Choi waiting drinks at a party, never having told her she’d left her for her own safety. She really needs to talk to someone about how to balance her priorities soon.
3. Whale and the Cycle of Bad Fathers
We see Khalil again, having been offscreen last week as, we’re told, he’d been told to guard the back entrance to Whale’s office and didn’t hear Kara enter the front door. Whale admonishes him for his failure repeatedly as they play chess by smacking him across the face – I winced with every slap, saddened by the abusive father Khalil landed himself with, and by Whale perpeuating the cycle of abuse his own father inflicted on him.
Later when Whale is cleaning up his loose ends, he kills Marsellus, his former right-hand man. While I know Whale looks younger than he is, I got the vibe Marsellus was a mentor to him, given he taught him how to play chess. Regardless, Whale is not sentimental and snaps his neck: evil only begets evil, and I’ve no doubt the path Whale led Khalil on will also lead to one of them killing the other.
4. Just Let it Out
It turns out Issa’s Green Light-induced ability is to unconsciously make people tell the truth. When Lynn invites him to dinner with her family, it leads to all kinds of strong emotions making themselves known at the table: Jefferson expresses anger at Anissa’s immaturity, Jennifer blurts out she finds Issa’s resurrection frightening, and so on. But honestly, that will be a good thing in the long run, as the family is finding themselves so stressed by these emotions they’re bottling up that hopefully it’ll help them open up more in further episodes. When Lynn later gives Issa his diagnosis, he gets her to calmly and openly explain that he may be dying, and the fact she’s not hiding anything helps him to make a calm decision about his future.
5. Oh my Captain, my Captain
Ah yes, what’s personally upsetting Jefferson into losing patience with Anissa? He’s made the decision to resign as Garfield High’s principal – though he’ll remain as a teacher – but he’s definitely not happy about him, and further still that the board have chosen to appoint Mike Lowry, a white man. I’m sure Jefferson would have no trouble with a white replacement if he had been consulted about it, but as he hasn’t, he definitely knows Lammy will be out of his depth at Garfield High.Continued below
At the end we get a rather heartwarming Goodbye Mr. Chips/Dead Poets Society-type ending when Jefferson announces he’s stepping down at an assembly, and the students stir him into reciting the inspiring motto he taught them. We’ll see how long Jefferson’s restored optimism lasts next week in “The Book of Consequences, Chapter Three: Master Lammy.”
– Anissa and Jennifer reveal they haven’t had period pains since getting their powers – blimey does this show keep being so candid.
– Seeing Black Lightning and Thunder’s armor in Gambi’s basement makes me wonder, why not have their outfits at home? Do they have spares?
– Lynn’s last conversation with Agent Odell reminds us she’s helping these kids, but it still advances the government’s agenda.
– Speaking of whom, Jefferson’s met Bush Jr. and Obama, and apologetically explains the former’s money was good enough – it’s nice to know someone in the media hasn’t forgotten how bad he was.