TV Recap: Black Lightning – Thunder and Lightning

Black Lightning
“Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder”
February 27, 2018

Another solid episode that keeps the momentum moving. Big developments at the end of the episode will set up the remainder of the season’s arc which I am excited about.

This is already super late so without further delay, our deep dive recap of “Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder” (beware spoilers!!) … after the jump!!

We pick up immediately where we left off last week with Jefferson rolling around in the alley behind Joey Toledo’s club, suffering through some kind of seizure with his suit completely powered down.  He’s in bad shape. Making matters worse, the police have been told where he is and they are are coming for him in force.  Inspector Henderson is with them but its interesting to note he no longer seems quite as intent as before on capturing Black Lightning. Someone, maybe has seen the error of his ways?

Gambi shows up in his Mobile HQ van and some how negotiates the massive Black Lightning (still in suit) into the back. The police are still in full search mode but Gambi is able to get away without a trace.  Peter places a frantic call  to Lynn, Black Lightning is in a bad way, help!

Title card.

Whale Lair.  When we return, Joey T is shuffling in to report on his encounter with Black Lightning to Tobias.  He relates that Black Lightning was in a bad bad way but when Tobias lifts him clean off the floor in his classic choke maneuver, asking why he didn’t finish him then, Toledo sputters that he was by himself and weaponless BUT he did place the tip to the police.  Tobias releases his minion and laments to Syonide  on the lazy and shiftlessness of white folks. At least he’s an equal offender asshole, amiright? Syonide relates a message she’s received that Tori’s protection detail has checked in and all is well.

Toledo, not being caught up on the latest Lady Eve machinations, asks about why she’s in protection and Tobias tells him about the Albino Powder he received in the mail.  [Note: I wonder if its not actually Albino Powder but rather Faerie Dust from The Magicians – if you watch The Magicians, that’s pretty funny.] Whale tells Joey to make sure they have a hit crew in the jail lock up ready for when Black Lightning is taken in, “Black Lightning doesn’t live out the night,” he orders. Also, stop bleeding on the man’s floors Toledo. Yeesh. You KNOW how he hates that!

Police HQ. Henderson reports to his superior, who I believe is Deputy Chief Cayman, that eye witnesses saw Black Lightning getting into a van but, as they were fans, “wilful amnesia” seems to have prevented them from remembering any sort of description of the van or the plate number. Chief spits out that he doesn’t understand how a criminal and freak has fans. Noting the vitriol in his boss’s voice, Henderson asks his boss where he said he got the Black Lightning location tip from?!? Chief didn’t say and would rather not say and is luckily spared Henderson’s inquisitive eyes by a phone call from Joey T. “I’ve got take this,” he says and walks away.

Gambi Tailors.  When we return, we are in the Gambi Lair, Lynn is in full on doctor mode examining Jefferson while he tries to rationalize out loud his going after Joey Toledo.  Toledo to Whale to REVENGE!!  Lynn, the consummate professional, brought a portable MRI machine to scan Jefferson’s scrambled eggs of a brain but lo and behold, he must have a pretty good healing factor because his brain scan is pretty normal looking; well, normal looking for Jefferson anyway.  Lynn remarks that its not as fast a healing as it used to be but still twice as fast as normal.  I should note that I am relying on Lynn’s professional opinion because you know, I’m not a brain doctor.  I’m not a doctor of anything actually.  In case you were confused.

Anyway, Jefferson takes this (exactly wrong) moment to be all sexy superhero and Lynn? She’s Not Having It! In case he has forgotten why he got divorced in the first place, she kind of super hates the whole having to stitch him back together part of his superhero life.  And no, Jefferson, she just doesn’t give a damn about your reasons, Tobias Revenge or otherwise.  Nope, Nada, Nyet.  In fact, she reminds, his father is dead and nothing Jefferson can do will bring him back which … true? But Super Harsh, Lynn?

I get the importance of showing Lynn’s reticence here and her consistent position on hating the whole “you almost died” thing but I am little bored by this same fight for like the 8 bazillionth time.  Let’s move it along, people.

College Campus.  On Anissa’s medical school campus, there sits a statue of what looks like a generic “Confederate Soldier” type person.  Reminiscent of very real events that occurred in the Summer and Fall of 2017, Anissa and some other protestors gather in front of the offending statue, whip out water guns and commence firing at the statue, completely covering it in paint. But, the fun doesn’t last long for here comes campus security and police busting the vandals and once again, Anissa finds herself in police custody.

*sigh*   When she says “get off of me,” I actually laughed out loud because, gurl, what did you think was going to happen when you defaced private property?   Protest within the confines of the system is the only way protest ever makes a difference – she has to get that by now, no?

Lynn’s Lab.  Lynn, she of the heavy eyelids of someone who was up all night stitching back together their ex-husband, has to field questions inappropriate from her assistant, Kam, on what (or who) is keeping her up so late?!? Impertinent little assistant!  Luckily, Kam has an actual professional question to ask Lynn. He shows her the brain scans of some Green Light Addicts; he’s curious why the gray matter of the brain is showing up with all the colors and if she has ever seen a scan like this before? She says no but her slightly open mouth and disbelieving eyes betray that statement.

As soon as Kam leaves (she dismisses him for a coffee run), she’s whipping out her brain scan of Jefferson and it looks remarkably similar to the scans of the Green Light Addicts.  Of course, Kam has witnessed this and is placing a call to someone about it. I presume, Gambi who strikes me as the type to have spies in Lynn’s office.

Freeland PD.  In a repeat of the opening scene of the series (except its daylight now), Jefferson, with Jennifer in tow, has come to grab Anissa from lockup.  As a dutiful father does, he ensures she is okay and free from injury or harm. As soon as she answers she is, he walks off without another word.  But, he just makes it to the hallway to hold his tongue.  He makes the point I make above, when you break the law, no matter how righteous the cause, you give the police the ability to hurt you and using “guns” just makes it worse. She feebly tries to deflect that they were “water guns” but ” they looked enough like real guns to be the end of you,” he warns.  He continues that a black woman in America cannot afford the cost of being naive and she has to know when to wali away from things she knows she shouldn’t be near.  In a small sign of growth, she holds her tongue and seems like she maybe actually hears him? Maybe? Finally?

Its tough being a dad y’all.

Pierce House.  Anissa is back at her research. Well, her grandfather’s research it seems.  Looks like he was looking into human mitochondria and its manipulation as the source of super powers but the nitty gritty details remain a bit above her head.  In a scene  which is also a repeat of an earlier one where Anissa was researching super powers, Jennifer comes walking in without knocking.  This time, she just needs to gloat to her sister about acing her Pre-Calc Homework which, God bless her – I’m fairly intelligent but Pre-Calc and Calculus were just too much for this man.  Back to the girls, Anissa picks up that something is wrong with her little sister and Jennifer admits to having all the guilt about not necessarily wanting to be standing on the sidelines with a wheelchair bound Khalil when she had hoped to be spending time on the dance floor. Which she means both literally and figuratively. Anissa assures her sister she isn’t horrible, she’s human.

I’ve mentioned it before but kudos to Nafeesa Williams and China Anne McClain for absolutely nailing the sister bond – its one of the very best things about this show and their moments are something I look forward to every week. 

Gambi Tailors.  Down in the Lair, Peter is running power and suit diagnostic tests on Jefferson. Jefferson confesses to Gambi that sometimes he wonders if Lynn is right, that his super powers are like a drug he’s addicted to. Peter is all, “ppsshhhaw” and mansplains that its just the endorphins in his brain making him feel good.  Gambi explains that the majority of Black Lightning’s power is neurological and so he is harnessing his brain power as a tool the way a normal person would use a hammer. Now, how do you feel? Gambi is very concerned with Jefferson’s pain levels, its the third time he’s asked him this scene which is only like 15 seconds old.  Jefferson is all, I told you I was good dummy so, what was wrong with the suit?  Gambi mumbo jumbos about resistance and feedback but Jefferson seems satisfied with the explanation (I am not satisfied, Peter, you shifty bastard you!).

The duo shifts into the Tobias Manhunt and Jefferson is pretty upfront about the whole, I am going to Kill Tobias where he stands.  No due process for that “albino.” Which, doesn’t sit well with Peter — you’re Black Lightning man, he tells Jefferson, you can’t be playing the role of “vengeful son” when you’re supposed to be a “hero seeking justice for Freeland.”

Jefferson disagrees thusly: Freeland is in crisis because of Green Light –> Joey Toledo is behind Green Light –> Tobias is behind Joey –> ipso facto, getting rid of Tobias IS justice.  Solid logic, bro.  I like it!! This whole conversation gets Jefferson increasingly agitated asking Gambi why he’s always giving resistance when Whale’s name comes up … he was all gung-ho about Jefferson picking up the Black Lightning mantle and now, he doesn’t want him pursuing Tobias (the reason he became BL in the first place)?!?  Peter sputters there is no reason other than The 100 became super strong and well organized in Black Lightning’s 9 year absence and … and nothing, Jefferson cuts him off. Thanks for the advice but Tobias is going down.  Smell ya later.   Commercials.

Lynn’s Lab.  When we return, Lynn finds Gambi (creepily) waiting in her lab. break in, much?  He’s there to appeal to Lynn to help save Jefferson from crossing a line he won’t be able to uncross … the whole outright murder thing.  [Note: Listen, Gambi is quickly becoming a snake but he’s also not wrong here about violence for peace and violence for blood lust revenge.  Its a fine line to be sure,but, its a line Superheroes always need to be wary of.]  Gambi’s final push is that Lynn is the only one that might be able to redirect Jefferson off the ledge.  Back to the story, Lynn is resistant to Peter’s pleas, resting on her belief that Jefferson has made a bed in which needs to lie.

Garfield HS.  Jefferson sits at desk contemplating his life decisions when he gets a doctor appointment reminder text which gets Jefferson thinking about Albinism and medical issues they made face for which doctor visits might be necessary.  This is a nice bit of out of the box thinking for our boy.  I like it.  If you’re curious, we learn that sensitivity to light, along with psoriasis and higher rates of skin cancer are among the ailments prevalent in Albinism.  And as such, they require frequent screenings … at doctor’s offices!!!! An idea forms!

Elsewhere in the HS, Jennifer is dealing with lingering bullying issues from the girl she fucked up at the roller rink (Lana was her name you’ll recall).  Seems a video has been posted which in summary, Lana black shames Jennifer referring to her as a “Black Becky with the good hair” which, damn, not cool.   Jen and Kiesha decide that another beat down will solve the problem. Kiesha? You are NOT a good role model.

Lynn’s Lab. Anissa swings by her mom’s lab with the box of Grandpa Pierce’s research. But, before we get tot hat, Anissa sticks her nose into her parents personal lives and tells her mom that she knows why Lynn and Jefferson split — he was too much about saving the world and Lynn didn’t want to play second fiddle; its like it was his mistress is her analogy.  She has no idea on how on the nose she is.  To the paperwork, Anissa tells her mom a version of the truth – the box is research from Alvin Pierce but she can’t make sense of the findings. Lynn, being a mom, intuits that she isn’t getting the full story.  In a repeat of their conversation last week – Lynn tells her daughter to come speak to her when she can about what’s really going on.  Anissa agrees and Lynn says she’ll examine the findings as soon as she can.

Gambi Tailors. Down in the Lair, Peter is looking at old pictures of him and a young Jefferson when a System Alert goes off.  He turns on Black Lightning’s body cam and sees his friend is in suit and lurking in an office. He tries to remind his friend, again, that he needs to keep a line between who he is and the type of man Tobias is.  Black Lightning cuts the camera feed by way of response.

Medical Office.  We join Black Lightning outside the medical office of one Dr. Henry Mayfield, Dermatologist.  He zaps open the locked door (who needs lock picks when you are electrically charged!) and lets himself in. Despite the door being locked, Dr. Mayfield is still in the office and just about shits himself when he comes face to face with Black Lightning. “You know who I am,” Black Lightning begins which is terribly threatening sounding.  We learned Mayfield specializes in the treating patients afflicted with Albinism. It takes all of .5 a second for Mayfield to confess that he treats Whale though Tobias never gives his name.  Tobias HAS made it clear however, that he knows where Dr. Mayfield and his family live and where his kids go to school. Black Lightning assures Dr. Mayfield that he’s not there to hurt him but to help him … you can see where maybe he got the wrong idea, Black Lightning right?  Your first impressions can be … intimidating.

“When’s his next appointment,” BL asks but it doesn’t work that way. A scary lady (Hi, Syonide!) calls and tells Mayfield to stay open after hours and Tobias just drops in.  That is a health insurance plan that works for you! Can we all get on that plan?!?

Black Lightning tells Mayfield to summon Whale in but he blusters that hye can’t do that … that will lead to certain death for him and his family.  Black Lightning tells him that he can help Mayfield and his family or he can keep being under Tobias’s thumb. He hands Mayfield a burner (he must have bought them in bulk at Sam’s Club) and tells  him to call if he changes his mind. Commercials.

Garfield HS. When we return, Ms. Fowdy tracks down Jefferson with iPad in hand. While monitoring social media for cyber-bullying (do school admins really do this now a days – I think it makes sense, I’m just not sure its actually a thing that happens); she found a post from a “KingKhalil.” The post says, “Black Becky who dances like a white girl, but she still got nappy hair.” It is a gif of Jennifer’s face pasted on to a white girl’s dancing body.  It also has 800 “Likes.” There is so much fucked up with everything in those few sentences, I can’t even.  Fowdy tells him she’s there for him if he needs anything (I bet you are Fowdy) as he goes in search of, his daughter presumably, but maybe he also wants to hurt Khalil a bit too.

Jefferson finds Jennifer hiding out in the weight room and proceeds to tell her about the phenomenon of “Crabs in a Barrel.” Applied to African Americans in a post-slavery world, Jefferson explains, there is a tendency to lash out at one of your own out of jealousy when they begin to get ahead of you.  Jennifer tells her dad that Lana’s attempt at black shaming backfired on her when the internet community jumped down her throat about black people tearing down other black people.  This did nothing, however, to make Jennifer feel better about Khalil’s incendiary comments.   Jefferson counsels that it might be Khalil’s pain talking or it could just be revealing who he really is in the face of adversity.  To tell the difference, she has to listen to what she really hears and be honest about it.  In the meantime, she should give Khalil space.  Nope, she needs to talk to him, Jennifer insists.  Being a father is a thankless task but Jefferson understands his daughter’s

Elsewhere in Garfield, Anissa and Fowdy are watching news reports on that confederate statue from earlier. It seems that White Supremacists showed up to square off with a new round of protesters, things escalated, a white supremacist drove his car into the crowd of protesters and now, 19 year old Katie Smith is dead.  Anissa says she knew her though not well and Fowdy plays the Greek chorus by saying she wishes there was something that could be done to “stop this madness.”   Anissa has some ideas …

Khalil’s House. We enter with the conversation between Khalil and Jennifer already in progress. He accuses her of “trippin” though her position seems pretty straight forward and defensible.  She suggests they take a break … “until when,” Khalil says? “I walk,” he spits at her?  But he’s not done.  Oh no, he has now decided that its actually Jennifer’s fault he’s in the wheelchair because if not for her, he wouldn’t have even gone to the march.  She’s incredulous but he doubles down, “its your fault Becky.”  DUUUUDEE what is your deal. When did you turn all Anakin on the Dark Side?

How Khalil Appears in this episode …  (Property: Disney/Lucasfilm)

Khalil is full on pity party lamenting he did everything right like, not underage drinking, not committing crimes, and not fathering children as a teenager — these are basic human activities, why do these things need to be praised? As a father, I expect the above from my son as like the base line of acceptable behavior. I’m not going to “attaboy” my son for staying out of jail – I expect he will?

Anyway, he was a good boy, went to church, and God still took his legs so he’s all, “Hasa Diga Eebowai!Jennifer tries to comfort him, tell him she’ll pray for him but he’s not having it.  “Now, get out.” Khalil’s a diiiiiiick!

Outside Khalil’s apartment, Jefferson takes a call from Dr. Mayfield on the Black Lightning Burner Line and learns that Doc sacked up and told Tobias he needed to come in and redo a test. Oh, its on like Donkey Kong.  Jefferson hangs up as Jennifer emerges from the Pity Party Cave and tells her father she should’ve waited like he suggested.  Well, duh.

College Campus. Night has fallen and Anissa, taking Fowdy’s words to heart, arrives at the Generic Confederate Soldier Statue in full Thunder dress. She Thunder strikes the staue into pieces but also really scares the shit out of the bystanders standing vigil and maybe even hurts a couple of them … she overshoots the power of her Thunder strike by a mile.   She runs away a little disturbed at how her actions played out.  Commercials.

RIP Generic Confederate Soldier Statue – you pissed everyone off and then you got destroyed.

When we return, Anissa is having a moment in her car.  And from this moment, she resolves to tell her mom the truth.  This is a good adult decision and I am proud of Anissa.  She calls her mom to ask if she can come to the lab, she’s got something she needs to show her – the real reason she needed her Grandpa Pierce’s research looked into.  Sure, Lynn says, just buzz the intercom when you arrive.  Just as Lynn hangs up, she gets a call from Gambi.  She hesitates and part of me wished she’d had ignored the call – just so there is some consistent actions on Lynn’s part. But she doesn’t ignore, she takes peter’s call and he immediately begins the pleading; Jefferson is “about to kill a man.” He begs her to intervene and they disconnect.

On the rooftop of the Doctor’s office, Black Lightning settles in to wait for his prey while he relives, again, the moment Tobias killed his father (which young Jefferson watched from under a bed).  Tobias’ car rolls up and Black Lightning begins his process of generating enough electricity that looks like it might be able to fry a city block. As the villains disembark from the car, Gambi pipes Lynn directly into Black Lightning’s comms system.  She begins by reciting the girls’ birthdates and tells Jefferson (she’s speaking to him, not to Black Lightning) that he is their anchor in this world but that’ll go away “if you let the air out of your soul.” [Note: This is a beautiful line, perhaps the best in the episode.]  

Photo: Richard Ducree/The CW

He tells Lynn that his soul is already shredded, he tells her “goodbye” which is actually a pretty dramatic, very “past the point of no return” thing to say but she persists.  As we see Tobias finally exit the car, she hits her point – she realizes that its unfair of her to be mad at him for being a hero, which to be clear is what he is, a hero. Not a murderer.  He’s not sold until he hears glass breaking through the comms system – the sound came from Lynn’s office. That makes him stop generating his electric force immediately.  “What was that,” he asks? Someone’s breaking in she says, with a creep of panic. Black Lightning tells her to hide … he’s coming to get her.  And off he flies.  Commercials.

Bowman College.  Thunder arrives at Lynn’s lab and finds a security guard down for the count outside the lab proper. Inside, she sees Lynn tied up and gagged while one armed men stands over her and another searches her computer.  Thunder engages the baddies and after taking a magazine full of bullets in her torso, she dispatches them with a refreshing can of whoop ass.  She lets them run off.   [Note: The beauty of this entire exchange is Lynn’s wide eyed stare as she watches her daughter get shot and then fling men around like rag dolls.  Unable to speak, Christine Adams, expressed everything you’d expect from  a mother, who is fairly acquainted with superpowers, watching her daughter debut hitherto unknown super powers.  Its pretty great.]  

As Thunder runs to her mom to start untying her, the lights begin to flicker which can only mean …

Photo: Annette Brown/The CW 

Black Lightning is now in the house and seeing a costumed character of unknown affiliation standing over his bound (ex) wife, he jumps to a conclusion and opens fire.  Thunder sidesteps his opening electric blast easily enough but can’t get out of the way of his two handed electric force push.  As Lynn frantically shakes her head no (really unfortunate her not being able to speak right now), Thunder regains her feet and unleashes a Thunder Stomp which puts Black Lightning on his ass. Left hook, right hook, spin, double force push and Black Lightning is flying through a glass window.  She’s not done.  She acrobats out of the way of some counter-strikes and when Black Lightning gets off an electric zap, she not only stops it with her hand, but is eventually able to push back into his face.  New moves she didn’t know she had! Black Lightning recovers fast enough and gets her entire body enveloped in a two handed lightning strike. He sends her body up into the ceiling and then full force slams her into the ground.  Black Lightning – 1, Thunder – 0.

Photo: Annette Brown/The CW 

Its not until he turns over his fallen foe that he realizes that its Anissa and boy, is that awkward.  He cradles her moaning, semi-conscious body in his arms as we go to commercials.

When we return from commercials, we are in the Gambi-Mobile and Lynn has done a preliminary check up on Anissa.  No broken bones but there is a concussion.  What was she doing, Jefferson asks? And Lynn basically scoffs at him and the ridiculousness of the question – she’s doing what you do, you jackass (this last part is implied); she’s got powers, duuuuuhhhh. Neither of them seem especially overjoyed at this news.

Whale’s Car.  Tobias has Khalil in the backseat of his car, telling him that he’s going to be okay cause Tobias has his back.  He drops some wisdom about you have to either be a sheep or a wolf in this world, and well, its clear which Tobias thinks you should be.  Khalil isn’t sold on what he can bring to the table, he can’t even walk. But you will, Tobias assures him. Syonide chimes in here … for maybe only the second or third time we’ve ever heard speak.  From the front seat she turns to Khalil and tells him that “you will know strength, be strength, and believe me, its so much fun.” Sounds like Khalil is about to take a hit of whatever is keeping Tobias so preternaturally young?

Lady Eve’s Morgue. Gambi drops by to see Lady Eve and she asks how he got past her security. He responds, “I taught you everything you know, not everything I know.”  She’s seems genuinely amused by Peter and even calls him corny … and she doesn’t strike me as someone that calls many people corny.  He says you can be corny when retired to which she reminds him (not for the first time it seems) that if he had gone into business with her “after she left the Agency,” he’d be “wealthy retired.”  Which sounds better than just return TBH.  He moves on to reminding her, the understanding is the Pierce Family is off limits.  It is, Lady Eve, concedes by Lynn has been doing research which is off limits so … Lady Eve says they just wanted her files (the Grandpa Pierce files to be exact).   Further, Lynn wasn’t even supposed to be there nor “the meta that attacked the Plummer crew.”  [Note: A new bad guy name to keep track of – Plummer!].

Lady Eve asks Peter what he knows about this new female meta and he says nothing.  She doesn’t quite believe him and reminds him that he’s “made promises.” He acknowledges this and says he’s kept up his end of the deal, which includes not outing Tobias.   Lady Eve commends him on the wise decision, because “if his dirty laundry comes out,” she warns, “so does yours.”  Gambi looks all pissy but chooses to leave instead of responding.  So much mystery with that guy!

Pierce House.  Laying in bed with Lynn cradling her in an arm, Anissa slowly comes to. Her eyes fall over to Black Lightning standing at her bedside but with no blur mask on, she realizes something and just utters, “Dad?” And scene.

Thoughts. Alright show, way to move the story along! I am happy we got through the daughter-father reveal scene and even got a battle between the two.  I like the fast paced clip the show is moving at because its allowing a nice flow of momentum week to week. We just need to get Jennifer on board and the pierce Trip of Badasses Will be Set.

I am not going tos pend too much time here because I am already a week behind but I love the Gambi Mystery. I wish it was parsing out a little faster but I love seeing the almost playful, flirty interaction between Peter and Lady Eve and I’m definitely on board to know about their history, presumably at the ASA which was alluded to previously.

Last, Lynn gets MVP this week. Her wishi-washiness still bothers me but her delivery of that line while Jefferson was on the rooftop about letting the air out of his soul was really so well delivered and her interactions as a mom to Anissa week after week really resonates with me on a parent level.  She needs to buckle down and get on board with Team Pierce but otherwise, I love watching her grace the screen.

Alright, friends, see you next week!

 

 

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