TV Recap: Black Lightning – Thunder and Lightning …

Black Lightning
“Black Jesus”
February 6, 2018

Black Lightning hits a stride this week. After 3 episodes of heavy exposition and setting the table with clear labels of the good, the bad and the ugly, this week, we get down to the work of saving the community.  Tonight, we deal with a bad juju drug on the street and how such a thing can hit home, almost overnight.  Anissa and Jennifer continue to find their ways forward while Lynn deals with simmering anger and conflicted feelings,  AND we get a new member of Team Albino.

Be Prepared, Spoilers Ahead! You’ve been warned but if you’re ready, check out our Deep Dive Recap of “Black Jesus” … after the jump!

Garfield HS. We jump right into action tonight with Jefferson having to “Black Lightning” a student, Bernard, who is on a drug induced Hulk-style rampage.  The scary thing is that Jefferson has to zap the boy twice before he can take him down.  Super strength and rage issues seem to be the feature of this new drug hitting the streets of Freeland.

On the Streets.  Anissa rolls up on two female Garfield students who are with some street level drug pusher thugs.  She orders her students into the car and then steps to the trash, scolding them for selling drugs to their own people.  They do the normal thug things like show her the gun in their waist band and call her a bitch.  Anissa doesn’t take kindly to this but doesn’t freak out on them either with her new found super strength.

Gambi Tailors.  Jefferson is relating the incident with Bernard to Peter who has heard of this new drug, Green Light.  Jefferson just can’t believe the speed with which life is falling to shit.  Pierce guesses this has to be The 100 but he only knows street level thugs, no high level names.  Gambi says he’ll reach out to his “contacts” but Jefferson won’t be hanging around waiting.

We immediately smash cut to Black Lightning interrogating one of the said low level dealers who names a guy, Two Bits, as his dealer.  He gives up an address and Black Lightning knocks out the poor guy for his troubles.  Looks like we’ll be working our way up the thug ladder tonight …

Title Card.

Photo: Carin Baer/The CW

Funeral Home.  We come back to Lady Eve and Tobias having a pow wow.   We get a little backstory on Tobias who, according to Lady Eve, is a disgraced politician who went underground and resurfaced with Lady Eve’s hitherto yet unnamed organization. “They” gave Tobias The 100 as a reward for his good work, she says … but (there is definitely a but) … since Black Lightning has returned, Lady Eve’s partners have become less confident in his ability to lead The 100.  Its an optics thing Tobias, she explains, since your entire career was built on your claim that you killed Black Lightning 9 years ago, with him back now, its almost as if you “lied on his resume.” Which I guess is unacceptable in the integrity-rich business of murder, protection rackets, guns and drugs business?!? These gangsters and their moral codes are baffling to me.    Brass Tacks: Lady Eve explains that he better use some of his mythical “albino magic” and take out Black Lightning right quick. Or else, it’ll be Tobias that Lady Eve’s partners take out permanently.

Garfield HS.  Meeting with Bernard, his dad, Jefferson and Ms. Fowdy, there as VP and as representative of the Board.  Jefferson says he won’t be expelled but he needs to tell Jefferson where he got the drugs.  But, Bernard ain’t no snitch. Oh hell, yes, you are, his father explains. Resigned, Bernard gives up the name Ronald Wright, a local dude from the neighborhood who gave Bernard the first taste for free.   Jefferson sits back and makes Bernard recite the Garfield credo we heard in the Pilot episode that Jefferson has all of his students recite on command.  Satisfied, Jefferson dismisses student and father.

Alone, Fowdy insists that the Board will insist on Bernard getting the boot but fuck them very much, Jefferson replies, the By-Laws clearly state such a matter is in his sole decision.  And further, she should tell the Board to suck his ass.  But, she’s his VP, not his secretary so Fowdy tells him that he should tell the Board his damn self and she storms out.  Man, Jefferson does have a way with the ladies.  As soon as he is alone, Jefferson calls Peter with the Ronald Wright name; a name Gambi is already familiar with as he is watching the Coroner’s office load Wright’s dead body into a meat wagon.  Seems, Ronald OD’d on his own product … which is just bad drug dealer business.  They move on to last night’s interrogation and Jefferson tells Peter he actually knows “Two Bits” … grew up with him and knew him pretty well.

Hospital.  Jennifer, not in school, is helping Khalil get settled into a wheelchair while the couple overhear some bitchy nurses talking about Khalil’s life basically being over. God, where is the human decency you bitches.  Jennifer confirms Khalil’s thought that’s going to be ok but in private, has herself a nice cry.  Poor kids, Saturday Sex Day is probably ruined now.  =(

Some Coroner or Crematorium Office.  We cut over to Tobias smacking around the man who (falsely) confirmed the death of Black Lightning so many years ago. IMDb leads me to believe the character is the coroner and is named Leonard Marshall so we’ll go with that for now.  A body came out of the river where Black Lightning fell in, Lenny’s boss put said body in the crematorium, ergo, Lenny assumed it was Black Lightning who burned.  Well, that’s an unfortunate and costly mistake because a body will need to be sacrificed to make up for the deficit.  Who wants to take a bet on who’s body pays the price?!? Ah, poor Lenny Marshall, we hardly got to know ye.

Pierce House.  Jennifer comes home and walks into a hornets nest of parental disapproval.  Apparently, she’s been blowing off her responsibilities, including track, to be with Khalil, who needs Jennifer’s help, according to, well, Jennifer.  Jefferson makes the case that she’s got too much on her plate and something needs to give and that something is time with Khalil. Also, she WILL be apologizing to her track coach for disrespecting him and the team.  This reminds Jennifer, she doesn’t want to run track anymore. She only ever did it to make Jefferson happy anyway.  Whoa. Whoa. WHOA, her parents say.  Lynn tells her to take 2 days and if she still feels the same she can quit – Jefferson’s eyes almost pop out of his head over this concession but there is a time and a place for showing dissension in the ranks and this is neither the time nor the place.  Before it can escalate further, Lynn agrees to Jennifer being excused (again, making Jefferson bite his lip — he definitely wants to do full throttle parent here but he follows Lynn’s lead … for now).  Commercials.

When we return, we’re at the Pierce family dinner which includes Anissa and Inspector Henderson (and his wife) tonight.  Which is perfect because Anissa is looking to make an impassioned plea for the righteousness of Black Lightning’s actions in the face of a failing police force. Henderson handles this much better from Anissa than he did from Reverend Holt but makes his same arguments that Black Lightning isn’t making things better and that he certainly doesn’t care about collateral damage, such as Rev Holt or Khalil. Anissa isn’t having that.  Lynn jumps in to say that Anissa should think how hard it is on Black Lightning’s family, having to worry about him (Jefferson is just drinking his wine, keeping quiet) but Anissa doesn’t buy this argument either – Black Lightning’s family must be PROUD of him because what he is doing is heroic and is making a difference. Girlfriend is having the most meta conversation ever and doesn’t even realize it.   She’s gotten herself pretty worked up and excuses herself from the dinner.  Jefferson catches up to her in the foyer and makes sure she’s ok.  She assures him she is and takes off.

The Drug Corner from Earlier.  A hoodied Anissa steps to the two drug thugs from earlier and when they offer her some Green Light she responds by busting their asses with her power fists.  Except, maybe she went too hard and calls an ambulance to come help them because she’s fucked them up pretty good.  With great power comes great responsibility.

Bar. Jefferson finds Frank “Two Bits” Tanner (Jason Louder) at his Bar Office.  After some quick small talk, Two Bits asks what Jefferson wants because he’s “too bougie” to be slumming it down here unless he wants something.  Jefferson takes the “help me, help you” angle and warns Two Bits that the cops are going to be coming after him for the Bernard deal.  Get out while you can, he warns.  But get out and do what, Two Bits asks  Green Light is paying his bills.  Jefferson doesn’t push the situation and they leave off amicably but Jefferson gives a disappointed look back before he walks out.  I don’t think this conversation is over …

Gambi Tailors. In the lair, Peter tells Jefferson that Green Light is addictive after the first hit …36 ODs and 6 fatalities since it hit the streets, but black kids ODing isn’t very newsworthy Jefferson reminds him.  Gambi tells Jefferson that since Black Lightning’s returned, The 100 has upped their operational security game, every cell only knowing what it needs to know which makes it hard to beat your way up the thug food chain.  Perhaps a visit to Two Bits will shake some information loose, Jefferson ponders?

Two Bits’ Bar Office.  Black Lightning makes an entrance and quickly beats through Two Bits two guards.  Two Bits isn’t stupid though, he appeals to Black Lightning’s humanity saying that he knows how this works, Two Bits talks and then Black Lightning knocks him out and calls the cops. Except, for Two Bits – that’s strike 3 and that’s 30 years in jail; “do you think I deserve 30 years?” he pleads. Black Lightning says he deserves something … “But 30 years?!?” Two Bits responds, pleadingly.  Okay, Black Lightning is willing to deal:  Tell me what I need to know and I won’t call the cops.  Also, you need to stop selling drugs. Deal, Two Bits says and spills his info on how he re-ups his supply.  “Before you knock me out, can I get a pic?” Two Bits asks and moves in for the Selfie.  When he tells Black Lightning to make sure the suit lights up for the pic, that’s a step too far and he gets knocked out … no pic here.  I like Two Bits, I hope we see him again.   Commercials.

The Hospital.  Khalil  is telling Jennifer that Joan Lincoln, from TV Joan Lincoln, wants to interview him but he’s unsure, he doesn’t want people to see him like “this.”  She doesn’t really give an answer when he asks her advice but instead tells him that she quit the track team.  “huh” is Khalil’s entire response to that information which … I don’t know what Jennifer expected here?  She’s giving up voluntarily, the one thing that has been ripped from Khalil’s life so my instinct is that he would see this as pissing away a gift from God?  He decides to do the interview and tells her she has to be by his side, she’s his “Ride or die” right?  Sure, he says, not convincingly at all.  As a side note, I think they are watching tapes of Khalil’s track meets in the back ground which just makes me sad.

Garfield HS.  Ms. Rose Litchcut is meeting with Fowdy and Jefferson. She represents the Board’s position that (i) they will make the decisions on student infractions going forward (with Jefferson’s on the ground input) and (ii) more specifically, Bernard be expelled (she doesn’t even know his name). Jefferson catches on that this is all a done deal already and he kind of gives up which I was surprised at.  As Litchcut takes her leave, she reminds Jefferson that they all want the same thing for the students but um, no, I don’t think you do.  Again, Jefferson doesn’t take this opportunity to rage against the disembodied spirit of the Board reaching their hand down into his school … it seems out of character for him.  Anyway, alone, he wonders aloud how he is supposed to pick his battles and Fowdy reminds him that no matter how much Jefferson does from his end, the students have to do a part in helping themselves. He walks through the outcome of disobeying their wishes but end games that they’ll just fire him and bring in someone with no connection to the community. Fowdy acknowledges its a hard decision and tells him she is there for him.

Photo: Richard Ducree/The CW

Whale Lair.  Meet Tori (Edwina Findley). She embraces Tobias, calling him “Big Brother,” and gets right down to it: How are we going to kill Black Lightning?  This makes the family resemblance more noticeable.  Yeesh, the blood lust with these guys.  Commercials.

When we return, Black Lightning is on patrol at a Green Light Distribution Center  (from Two Bits’ confession) and checking out more improvements on his suit. Gambi has outfitted him with something even better than X-Ray vision, he’s given Black Lighting Electric Vision … which seems a lot like X-Ray Vision.  Anyway, Black Lightning is figuring out that this Green Light racket is no small time operation, its being housed in high end control room storage with professional guards he compares to spec ops team. And there is a shit ton of the product.

Ruby Red Lipstick Bar.  Outside the bar, Grace and Anissa are walking together when some Troglodytes come up harassing Grace for working in a lesbian bar that, in their enlightened opinion, should be burned to ground.  Grace goes to call the cops but lead Troglodyte grabs her and her phone and pushes Grace to ground.  He advances on the two women and Anissa force pushes him into tomorrow.  She puts up her hoodie and we cut away to …

Black Lightning who is talking to Peter about following a truck getting ready to head out when he hears an explosion. And then another one.  He tells Gambi he’s going to check out those explosions as they are near by and could be connected to the Green Light. Peter reminds him that this truck is their best clue to moving up the food chain which, good point.  Black Lightning asks him to check the local cameras and see if he can see what’s going on.  Gambi does see a hooded woman stomping the ground, causing an earthquake like effect and knocking out all the bad guys as well as the local camera feeds but lies to Black Lightning … nope, I didn’t see anything.  That’s two weeks in a row that Gambi has lied/destroyed evidence relating to camera images — what’s his deal? It seems unlikely he could ID Anissa from the angle we’re presented but maybe he’s making an educated guess on the limited info presented? Maybe he has another nefarious reason for keeping another Meta Human secret? We just don’t know.  After the gents disconnect, Peter grabs a modern sawed off shotgun and heads out.

Ruby Red Lipstick Bar. Gambi arrives at the scene of the earthquake, gun still in hand, while Anissa and Grave connoiter inside.  She asks Grace if it would be a good thing if she could make bad people pay for the things they’ve done.  She has to ask twice but Grace finally gives an unenthusiastic, “yeah.” Outside, Gambi takes off having seen whatever he needs to see.  Commercials.

Whale Lair.  Tobias and Tori watch a part of the Joan Lincoln story about Khalil and he turns the TV off in disgust. Tori pitches that Tobias could win the hearts of Freeland if the people turn on Black Lightning and then he takes him out. And by the way, Khalil doesn’t know it yet, but he’s got every reason to hate Black Lightning.  I smell the whiff of a plan coming together.

Hospital.  Cut to Khalil’s hospital room where he’s received some cool toys from an “Anonymous Donor” who is also helping out with his medical bills.  He asks Jennifer why she’s there so early and she explains that Khalil’s mom asked Jefferson to come down to the hospital so she tagged along.  The adults enter his room, looking grave, and Jefferson tells Khalil that his spinal cord is completely severed.  He’s never going to walk again.  He apologizes to Khalil but what else can you really say …

Garfield HS. Fowdy comes in to tell Jefferson that he Board called.  Bernard can stay if Jefferson gives up final say on severe infractions – he’d only have one vote,same as the other Board members. Unhappily, he accepts this bad bargain.  After Fowdy leaves, he calls Lynn to vent his mind.  Khalil and is paralysis is weighing on him … he rattles of some recent victims like LaWanda,Khalil and Rev Holt and says that he used to be able to handle the “collateral damage a lot better” but Lynn straight up ignores his obvious, if unspoken, plea for solace, and tells him she’s too busy to talk now, maybe later?  Cold Lynn. Cold.  He hangs up though Lynn hung up on him for all intents and purposes but its just as well because his phone starts to ring immediately.

Its Bernard’s father on the line, we see his head is bleeding and he tells Jefferson that Bernard has gone looking for drugs.  After their meeting earlier, Bernard wouldn’t stop talking about Green Light.  Mr Lewis gives Jefferson the drug house address. He explains he followed Bernard to the house but The 100 came out and pistol whipped him and the police wouldn’t help.

Drug House. Black Lightning arrives on the scene and begins clearing the garbage in the hallways.  He carries out an unconsciousness Bernard.

Garfield HS.  The next morning, Mr. Lewis can’t understand how it all went so wrong so fast.  Jefferson explains that Bernard is in the best rehab there is ans they’ll get him back on track and into college.  Mr. Lewis thank him and leaves.  Alone, Jefferson listens to a voicemail from Lynn: she apologizes for being a stone cold bitch before but this whole Black Lightning thing has her emotions all over the place and she admits that she is mad at him; but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love him.

Hospital. Its night time and Khalil turns over to find Tobias sitting in a chair by his bed. He asks if Khalil if he liked the gifts and introduces himself. “What are you doing in my room?!?,” Khalil reasonably asks.  He says he wanted to see how Khalil was done, you see, Tobias understands how Black Lightning can mess up your life.  He wanted to ease his mind with the gifts because its Black Lightning’s fault Khalil is paralyzed. There is some clunky logic here but you can totally see A. how this will work and B. that this will absolutely work on Khalil. He just found out he’s paralyzed, of course he’s going to want to strike out against someone in anger.  Tobias counsels that he has spent a life dealing with pain and overcoming pain and if Khalil wants, he can show Khalil how to “kill your pain.”  Yikes, that’s not subtle at all!!

Thoughts. After a few episodes of forward momentum and heavy exposition, we settled into a groove this week with a “Case of the Week” type central plotline revolving around Green Light, while pieces moved around the chess board setting up larger plots and storylines in the B and C threads.  B Plot: Anissa is using her powers in the open now and, based on her family dinner speech and her query to Grace at the end of the episode, she is close to convincing herself that vigilantism can do some good things.  C Plot: Tobias, under the (literal) gun from Lady Eve and her shadowy partners, hatches his latest scheme to eliminate Black Lightning and honestly, its a solid plan.  I’m okay giving credit here because its really Tori’s plan that Tobias is simply executing though, God, she doesn’t seem any better than her “Big Brother.”

Its funny, in the episode names Black Jesus, its the first of the 4 Black Lightning episodes to not actually use that term inside the episode.  But Jefferson is increasingly embracing his resurrected superhero alter ego though he does freely admit, the collateral damage is harder this time to accept.  Which is an interesting statement from him coming off of Henderson’s dinner time attack on Black Lightning where one of his central points was that Black Lightning specifically never cared about the collateral damage of his actions … by acknowledging to Lynn that he’s having an an issue this time, its a tacit acknowledgement that Henderson was right about the Black Lightning of 9 years ago – he did what he did and didn’t care who got hurt.

What changed for Jefferson, do you think?  Is it just the process of aging and maturing?  The value of human life increases the more you have to lose on a personal level?

Last, my random thought of the night — what is Gambi’s deal. I am hesitant to say that he’s acting against Black Lightning’s interests with his lies and coverups – it strikes me more like he’s trying to manage Jefferson. He knows the tepid steps that Jefferson has taken back into his superhero role and I suspect that Peter is trying to manage and manipulate  Jefferson’s information flow as a way of ensuring he keeps his savior on the path of Black Lightning Righteousness.   But, we’ll see. Maybe Gambi is secretly working for Lady Eve.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week.

 

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