TV Recap: Black Lightning – Shall We Begin?

Black Lightning
“The Resurrection and
the Light: The Book of Pain”
April 10, 2018

This episode turned things on its head.  Going into next week’s season finale, things are not great for Team Pierce and the bad guys are definitely ascendant.  In a classic God giveth and God taketh away, just as Lynn and Jefferson were getting their shit together, before the hour is out, its all fallen to pieces.  We are greeted to the return of a Milli Vanilli-looking cosplayer and Tobias and Syonide make a case for their own deranged Rom Com spin-off (which, to be clear … I would totally watch).

Less talk, more action so check out our Recap & Review of Black Lightning‘s “The Resurrection and the Light: The Book of Pain” … after the jump (beware of spoilers)!

We open the episode on a uber-disturbing scene; shirtless Whale checking out his latest scars, a gift from Black Lightning. But really, it just looks like he’s touching his boobs. *vomit*

Whew, sorry about that, I needed a moment to wipe the puke from my mouth.  Anyway, Tobias joins Martin proctor in a meeting to discuss a job opening created by Lady Eve’s untimely vacancy.  Proctor wastes no time in expositing for us that years ago, in an even more racially charged atmosphere than we’re living in now (hard to believe but true), the ASA created and spread a drug vaccine intended to pacify the citizens of Freeland. But, it didn’t work. It did, however, create meta humans in certain cases.  Which, win win for ASA.  Sad for them though, the test subjects died before they were operational so, tinker tinker tinker and voila, Green Light.  Tobias chimes in that duh, from what he’s seen, the people on Green Light are basically the poster child for the ideal super soldier: all giddy up, no retreat. True, Proctor says, but the test subjects are still dying.

Proctor finishes his spiel by saying that Black Lightning is the key. As a surviving meta from the vaccine days, he needs Black Lightning brought in, alive, so he can be studied and duplicated.  To assist Tobias, Martin calls in an old friend, Khalil. Except, Khalil is now walking, fairly jacked up and sporting crazy long dread locks.  As the two head out for their hunt, Proctor calls after him a couple more times to remind him that he needs Black Lightning, alive. “Alive!!!!” Geez, we get it Mr. Foreshadowing.

Safe House. Jefferson arrives at Lynn’s house after she makes a semi-urgent call for him to come over, she needs help. The help she needs, as it turns out, is of the sexual healing variety and we watch the two kiss as Jefferson sizzles her body with electric jolts. We cut to the Title Card just as its getting good.  Stupid broadcast TV.

When we cut back in from the title card, we are in bed with Jefferson and Lynn, very the post-coitally.  As a typical man would do, Jefferson waits until after the sex to ask why she would bestow such a gift on him. She’s pretty honest that she loves him and if all the stress from him returning to being Black Lightning and the girls having powers, etc. didn’t scare her off, she might as well bone.  That’s a paraphrase. She does, however, suggest that they keep it a secret from the girls for now … carry on like they are having an affair. As you can imagine, Jefferson is totes okay with this because … talk about guy sexual fantasies.

Whale’s Lair. Syonide ushers Dwayne in to see Tobias. Dwayne is the one who pulled Whale to safety after Black Lightning’s attack. Tobias thanks him but then things go south for old Dwayne. You see, by saving Tobias, he left Tori to die and that can’t be allowed to stand.  Tobias chokes him and then tosses him to the ground. Syonide finishes the job with an easy bullet to Dwayne’s chest.  Tobias tells her she’s “so impulsive” to which she just gives him a sweet smile (she is terribly sexy) and he chuckles; he’s very happy to be back.  This scene launches my wish for a Tobias/Syonide rom-com by way of Natural Born Killers-style TV series.    Greg Berlanti, if you’re reading this, please make this happen, k? K!

On the street … somewhere, Jefferson runs into Khalil, who I didn’t mention above but he looks like he’s trying out for a Milli Vanilli cover band … the dreads are ridiculous, and Jefferson is visibly shocked and suspicious. He tells Khalil he’s obviously happy at his recovery But But But, how did this happen, who performed a procedure on you?  Khalil keeps mum and gets to the point of this scene – Khalil gets to unload his anger and rage issues on “Mr. P” wherein he creates this revisionist history where Jefferson abandoned Khalil after he was paralyzed and couldn’t run for Garfield HS anymore. He even accuses Jefferson of preventing Jennifer from seeing him. Which, I mean, has he watched his episodes of this show? I am taking this as an intentional writing choice on the show’s part to exhibit the “anti-Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning/Good Guys” brain washing Khalil has undergone versus just horrible continuity issues. But, I’ll be watching you show. As Khalil walks off, he throws Jefferson’s line he uses on his students about them being the future.  Its actually a nice line delivery in an otherwise over done performance. sorry, the revisionist history thing is annoying me.  Commercials.

Gambi Tailors. We come back with Jefferson and Peter in the Lair media res of Jefferson talking about Khalil’s recovery. Gambi says that there is no way a poor kid from Freeland gets that kind of billion dollar technology which makes the pair “duh” that this is Proctor and the ASA at work. Which, duh.  Anissa joins the pair and reports that she found a report on another missing kid which brings the total number of abducted kids they can account for to 43. Take away the 36 Pods Anissa spied and Jefferson concludes that at least 7 have died.  With all the moving around, Anissa posits, it must be hard keeping them all stable. Which, true story. Just asked Doctor Scientist Nerd from last week. Anyway, Gambi is heading out to talk Hidalgo, the lying weapons dealer, again while Jefferson wonders aloud that squeezing Khalil might be the best road to Proctor. Lots of “watch yourself, the ASA wants you dead” all around and Gambi leaves.

Lynn’s Lab. As Lynn performs some blood work on Jennifer, they muse on ways Jen might try to resume a normal teenage, high schooler life while not aggravating her abilities. The best option is her taking up needlepoint which would allow her to stitch a pillow with the phrase, “My parents had sex and all I got were superpowers.” Funny, Jennifer. You’re very funny.  Lynn says she’s not completely wrong but fear not, she’s working on suppressing the superhero gene which makes Jennifer very happy. The thought of chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.  Lynn can do it all, really.

The Payne Apartment. Jefferson drops by Khalil’s apartment but Momma Payne hasn’t seen the boy in a while, he’s in a wheelchair in California you see. Oh, Momma Payne, you’ve not gotten the most recent script.  Jefferson breaks it to her that Khalil is in town AND walking so, yeah, that’s a lot for Momma Payne to process.  Inside, Momma Payne explains that a hospital told her Khalil had been chosen for a special pilot program of rehabilitation but no no no she, couldn’t go with him for fear of causing an infection, etc. She hasn’t heard from Khalil since he left. She gives Jefferson the contact info for the “Mr. Martin” that she spoke to.

Hidalgo’s Lair. Hidalgo is totes surprised to find Peter in his warehouse playing with his guns. Hidalgo is very sputtery about not knowing who bought the weapon that killed Lady Eve but shh, Peter only wants a way to get to Proctor. Hidalgo has 48 hours to deliver the info or else, the torture will be unreal, Hidalgo.

Safe House. Jefferson enters Jennifer’s room and tells her about the Khalil and the walking but also about the bad guys and the kidnapping metas. Jen is all, “psssh , Khalil wouldn’t hurt me” and Jefferson is all, “Nooooooo”. Jen then, offhandedly, drops the info that Lynn is working on “curing” Jennifer of her superpowers. You know who doesn’t look really happy at this news? If you guessed Jefferson, you’ve paying attention. I am sure this will be a conversation that he brings up BEFORE their next sexy time encounter.   After Jefferson leaves, Jen immediately picks up her phone to contact Khalil who has, wouldn’t you guessed it, already texted her. She wastes literally ZERO seconds before grabbing her keys and rushing to a horrible mistake. Teenagers … they’re the worst amiright?

Downstairs, Jefferson gets right into it with Lynn. His argument in a nutshell: you’re treating her like she is sick; you’re trying to change who she is; and most importantly, how could you try and do any of this without talking to me?!? Lynn seems genuinely taken aback which, c’mon Lynn? Have you just met Jefferson?  Her defense is basically, Jen is conflicted with her powers so what’s the harm in exploring a cure to your horrible horrible mutated body and powers? I may have projected a little into that paraphrase.   Before he storms off, Jefferson tells Lynn he’s glad that they didn’t tell the girls they were back together. Sick.Burn!

Pierce House. Jennifer meets Khalil in their secret meeting spot outside her bedroom window.  She tells him they’ve been staying somewhere else … because of vermin.  Khalil shows off his whole, walking body, and Jennifer is genuinely happy for him. He apologizes for being a dick and says that he didn’t know who he was after he got hurt. Then, he shows off his metal spine which, creepy. He’s basically a new Terminator model.  he tells her that the whole process was kinda of scary but the results speak for themselves. And the dreads, she asks? He does not say he has joined a Milli Vanilli cover band but rather, the pills he’s taking to help the regeneration causes rapid hair growth among other things.  Khalil is pretty sure they’re at the kissy face part of this meet cute but Jennifer, though she makes bad decisions, is no dummy. She gets up and asks some more questions. Such as, how’d they pick you for this radically new and never tried before procedure?  He asks if its important and she’s like, “yeah, sorta?” The whole, “you may be an unwitting puppet for an evil organization bent on killing my father and my sister and me” is left unsaid.  And, well, Khalil has had enough of her “shade”; dude what show are you even watching? Anyway, Khalil becomes unhinged accusing her (and her pops) of drinking the haterade, especially now that he’s got everything straight in his life. Sure, you seem totally well adjusted and together, Khalil.  He tells her he’s better off without her ass anyway (Really? Cause she’s got a nice ass – maybe your vision was affected when you got a new spine, Khalil?) and he jumps off the second story roof.  Jennifer looks equal measures of confused and sad.

Photo: Annette Brown/The CW

Whale’s Lair. Khalil is interrupting Tobias and Syonide’s peaceful dinner complaining about having to go back to Garfield HS.  He gets they need to capture Black Lightning but why there? Tobias is pretty understanding and walks him through the analysis. Black Lightning’s whole thing is beating the asses of bad people and if bad people attack the innocents at Garfield HS, it’ll be like “catnip” to Black Lightning. Ergo, you need to go to your alma mater.  You made a trade, Tobias reminds him; “legs for loyalty.” Also, remember what “they did to you” – that should motivate you to want to hurt everyone that used to be in your life (e.g., school, girlfriend, good people).  Khalil is a little lippy as he goes to leave, which just means he didn’t say “sir” and Tobias helpfully reminds him that if Khalil screw up, he’ll rip out his spinal implant and shove it down his throat.  Tobias Whale – his book on motivating your employees is available on Amazon.

Lala’s Office (one of the many).  We join Lala resolving a drug dealer distribution dispute; seems one of his lieutenants fucked up an underling so bad, he can’t put him on the street to sell drugs which puts the lieutenant one man down.  Drug dealing is a masters class in economics and work force management.  Anyway, Lala’s displeasure stems from the fact that he can beat people and that’s cool but if a lieutenant is doing it, it destroys morale and endangers loyalty.  A double standard? Sure but that’s why he is mid-level drug boss. His overall point is interrupted by a phone call which tells him simply, “the Devil deals the cards.” He goes as white as he can go and leaves the room mumbling to himself. Lieutenant is confused as to what just happens.

We cut over to Hidalgo who is leaving Gambi a message letting him know he has the info on Proctor.  After hanging up  the phone, Hidalgo turns around to find Lala standing there, holding one of the fancy automatic rifles.  Hidalgo should probably be worried. But, we have to wait because, Commercials!

Safe House. We come back to Lynn have some real talk with Jen about whether or not she’s trying to “fix” her and about cake, which looks delicious.  Blech, whatever with this storyline. I get Jen’s feelings here but Lynn needs to walk a fine line on “curing” her kids versus playing mad scientist with their genes.

Photo: Annette Brown/The CW

Gambi Tailors. Down in the Lair, Anissa is pitching a theory to Jefferson and Peter that they might be able to track the Pods by using historical data of electric grid spikes when they know the Pods have been moved from place to place in the past.  Before they can dig in further, a message comes over the police scanner that Garfield HS is under attack and SWAT is en route. Jefferson immediately abandons any other plan because, even if he’s still a police target for Lady Eve’s murder, he’s not going to let his students be slaughtered.  Anissa is already moving too.

We cut to a shot of Milli Vanilli Khalil looking all menacing has he enters his former school and then, Commercials.

We come back to Khalil running amok inside the school, shooting Green Light darts into various students necks (and exacting some HS retribution – interesting, he does seem to be targeting kids in Varsity jackets). After tossing a teacher through a trophy case and doing a standing jump up to the second floor, Jen throws herself in front of him, trying to get him to calm the fuck down.  He pushes past her, insisting this is who he is and he’s doing what he has to do. He assures her that he “won’t hurt her” but its on, like Donkey Kong, and he tells her to leave.  Hurt who, Khalil?!?

Photo: Annette Brown/The CW

We cut over to Fowdy trying to usher to students to safety as Black Lightning and Thunder enter the fray.  As he passes by her, Black Lightning commands Fowdy to get the kids of there (always the principal, this one) and then when Jen tries to talk to them, he’s all shhh, not here, go away. When Gambi tells them he’s got not eyes in the school and SWAT is five minutes from coming in, Black Lightning and Thunder decide to split up – always a good idea.

Photo: Annette Brown/The CW

Thunder is up first as she enters a classroom that Syonide is holding hostage.  Once Thunder enters, my new girlfriend (I know she’s a psychopathic killer, but seriously, love her) draws her guns and releases the children.   Once they’re alone, without another word Synoide empty’s both guns into Thunder’s suit. But, as you can imagine, it has no affect; Thunder is really funny here because she’s just standing there all, “bitch please.” Thunder blows Syonide back on her ass with a Thunder Yell.  Undaunted, Syonide (and her wonderful, sexy abs) tries her metal batons but they just snap over Thunder’s suit. Last resort? Hand to Hand combat.  Outside the classroom, we see Jennifer as snuck back inside (great job, Fowdy, you had one job of keeping the kids safe you Monster). she tries to summon her electric power but its shorting out.

Photo: Annette Brown/The CW

In another hallway, Black Lightning and Tobias square off. BL’s first blast has no effect on Whale and we see Gambi has identified some resistant material under Tobias’s clothes. Tobias is trying to goad him into hand to hand combat, but Peter is warning him off – that hand to hand combat makes no sense from Black Lightning ‘s perspective. As you can imagine, Black Lightning disagrees. They get into it and its like watching two rhinos go at it.  Tobias is laying some smack down into Black Lightning as we cut over to the gorgeous ladies of wrestling in the classroom.

After putting Syonide on the floor, Thunder lets her guard down a bit as she carelessly approaches. Of course, Syonide was playing a bit of possum and springs to her feet unleashing a flurry of punches and kicks and that flips the table on Thunder.  Thunder recovers enough to lay down a final Thunder Clap which literally sends Syonide through the classroom door; we see her laying fairly unconscious on the hallway floor. Peter comes over the comms to tell Thunder to get over to Black Lightning, stat.

Photo: Annette Brown/The CW

Over in the Rhino’s Den, Black Lightning has managed to get the upper hand and lays out Whale on the floor. Which is exactly when Khalil makes his reappearance. Black Lightning ducks the first lockers hurled at his head and you can see him hesitating from engaging with this former student of his.  Gambi tells him to zap Khalil hard which will cause a short in his implants, effectively paralyzing him again. While Peter prattles on about doing the right thing, Black Lightning continues to hesitate. He hesitates just long enough for Khalil to shoot a dart into Black Lightning’s neck. When Black Lightning finally tries to engage, his power is shorted out. Whelp. That’s the lesson of hesitation, kids.

As Black Lightning looks momentarily stunned at the loss of his powers, Whale grabs him from behind and Khalil comes in with a punch which has everything he’s got packed behind it. We see the chest plate of Black Lightning’s suit visibly cave in as something akin to a complete loss of breath mixed with fear plays over Black Lightning’s face. We hear whispers of a past conversation between Jefferson and Lynn play (seemingly in Jefferson’s mind as he is losing consciousness) where he’s talking about not wanting to go backwards and how she hopes that’s true because she can’t see him hurt any more. The last voice we hear before he totally blinks out is Anissa asking him what happened.

We cut to the Lair where we see Black Lightning’s vitals completely flatline.

Back in the hallway, Tobias starts to gloat over Black Lightning before he realizes that he’s actually dead. Whelp; they had one job – capture but not kill Black Lightning.  For his part, Khalil looks like he might vomit as he watches the dead superhero lay on the floor; the one he just killed.  Just as Whale goes to unmask the superhero, Thunder enters the hallway and Thunder Blows them all down the hall. before she can go in for the kill, Syonide enters the hallway in front of Tobias and Khalil, unloading two more guns which gives them cover to escape.

Thunder, who has covered her father’s body from the bullets tries to wake him up but, nothing doing what with him being dead and all.  Jennifer enters the hall and as the two daughters cry over their lifeless father, Jen accidentally shocks Jefferson’s body which acts like defibrillator paddles in a hospital.  Gambi, having seen a spike in Black Lightning’s vitals, tells Jennifer to shock him again.  One more good voltage and we see Jefferson take a deep breath as he returns to the land of the living. And Commercials.

When we return from  Commercials, its all hands on deck as Anissa carries her father into another Safe House. Gambi instructs Jennifer on how to properly destroy all cell phones so the ASA can’t track them and then he works on cloaking the house in electronic invisibility. Lynn begins work on nursing her man back to life.

The ASA’s Lair.  Everyone’s got a fucking Lair on this show and I love it.  Anyway, Proctor is having a hissy fit at Fowdy’s report that Black Lightning may or may not be dead and that Thunder may or may not have carried his body from the school. He shout/threatens his marching orders which is essentially bring him Black Lightning’s body and Thunder’s body (dead or alive in her case) by any means necessary because his experiment “cannot fail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The exclamation points reflect his shoutiness right here.

Photo: Annette Brown/The CW

Whale’s Lair. Syonide escorts a masked Lala to Whale’s desk. When the mask is revealed, Tobias asks Lala if he believes in the resurrection now. Lala responds by pulling a gun on Tobias (wait, she didn’t take his guns away from him before bringing him into the Lair – that is sloppy work, woman) as Syonide instantly pulls a gun on him.  Tobias says, “the Devil deals the cards” and Lala is instantly pacified.  Tobias begins the conversation with the oddly sedate Lala by thanking him for killing the weapons maker. “You’re welcome” Lala responds which I just found funny – the manners on these two.  Tobias says that they killed Lady Eve for a seat; now, they just need to kill Proctor to have the whole table. “Shall we begin,” Whale asks? “Yes sir,” is Lala’s simple answer. And scene.

Thoughts.  Not much to say on this one but I am fascinated by the Lala plotline and his apparent brainwashing. Since he’s returned to the scene, we’ve seen this descent into madness with the various face tattoos of his recent victims imprinting on his chest but this whole, “the Devil deals the cards” is another thing all together, I think.  Its clear that whatever Tobias did to resurrect Lala came with a pass word or better yet, a trigger word which causes Lala to carry out pre-ordained plans or just become completely passive to accepting and following orders. The thing is, Lala seems to be aware that he’s not in control of his own mind and actions which makes me wonder if, in the season finale next week, we’re going to see some act of rebellion from him – trying to break the mind leash that Tobias has placed on his brain.  As horrible as Lala is, and he’s fucking horrible, it’ll be interesting to see if he assumes some form of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” type mentality with Team Good Guys.

Also curious, will Fowdy have seen enough of the depths the Bad Guys are willing to go to, to abandon her evil ways and get right with Black Jesus?

I am not worried about Black Lightning’s state as him being down will lead to some character development tipping point for Jennifer to pick up the mantle temporarily unavailable to her father and come into her, just as her big sister has done. Jefferson being out of commission for next week’s season finale is the perfect time for her to assume her new badass superhero alter ego … complete with a new suit from Uncle Gambi, maybe?!?

Until Next Week Freelanders, thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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