This Black Lightning review contains spoilers.
Black Lightning Season 2, Episode 8
Black Lightning is one of only a few shows on The CW that actually treats its teenaged characters like teenagers. This is why an episode that centers around Khalil and Jennifer running away together is so necessarily chaotic. This two have no idea what they are doing, which ends up being the best defense of all, as they lead both Jen’s family and Tobias’ mercenary on a wild goose chase around Greater Freeland.
It becomes immediately clear how bad of an idea Khalil and Jennifer’s “exodus” is in the episode’s opening scene, which sees Khalil making a quick pitstop to grab some money. What this really means is Khalil is planning on “collecting” some of Tobias’ taxes from some criminals. Unbeknownst to Khalil, Tobias has already put a reward on Khalil’s head, which means the pitstop quickly turns into a shoot-out that Khalil only manages to get out of with the help of Jen and her powers… not the first time we will see Jen use her powers during this sprint for freedom.
Jen is smart enough to call Khalil out on his idiocy. She’s smart enough to know they need a plan. She is not experienced enough, however, to be able to come up with one. Eventually, the two kids decide to lay low at Khalil’s aunt’s house, though not before Khalil turns his temper on Jen when she tells him she is planning on calling her parents to let them know she is OK.
It is a terrifying moment, and one that both Jen and Khalil recognize as not OK. Khalil brushes it off as a side effect of his time with Tobias, but it was a deeply unsettling bout of temper from the teen. Is this rage related to Khalil’s powers or is it a side effect of all of the trauma he has suffered? Either way, the boy’s got to sort his stuff out if he hopes to have a healthy relationship with Jen or himself.
For the moment, in this breakneck-paced episode, Khalil and Jen have more pressing issues to deal with. When Tobias’ mercenary and Black Lightning/Thunder/Gambi converge on Khalil’s aunt’s house, violent chaos ensues. The mercenary would have succeeded in subduing Khalil, if not for Black Lightning’s entrance.
In the hubbub, Jen and a wounded Khalil manage to slip away. Jen even takes out one of Gambi’s drones and Tobias’ tracker (seriously, Khalil would be lost without Jen), giving these two crazy kids another chance at life on the run. I’m not sure how much longer this teenage runaway act can last (or how long Jen will want it to be last, TBH), but, for now, her father and sister storming in with superpowers blazing, Jen’s family haven’t given her many reasons to come home.
Tobias wants Khalil brought back alive, even though his main concern seems to be information getting out. Does this mean he cares about Khalil?
I’m frustrated with Black Lightning’s uneven characterization of Lynn. She’s been under a lot of stress lately, but her emotional breakdown and trashing of Jen’s room seemed out-of-character to me. She’s always been someone who’s thrived under pressure. If Jen were injured or worse, sure, I could see her breaking down. But while Jen is still out there? I feel like Lynn would be coming up with a plan.
Gambi’s return from the dead is brushed quickly past in the wake of Jen’s disppearance. I would have liked to see this dealt with a bit more, but I did like the cohesiveness of this episode’s focus.
This show continues to take place solely at night, which I am not a fan of. Still miss you, Garfield High.
One of the best scenes of the episode, for me, was Anissa calling Jefferson out on the part he played in Jen’s exodus. He and Lynn have smothered Jen under the guise of protection. On several occasions, she tried to talk to them about letting her return to school, and they simply refused. I get where they were coming from, but it’s not like there weren’t many warning signs. It says a lot that Jen chose to call Anissa, not her parents.
I also like the scene in which Jen compared Khalil’s Painkiller hairstyle to Whoopi Goldberg. Ha.
Yikes! Tobias may be on to the connection between Black Lightning and Jennifer Pierce. This is why you don’t show up in your supersuit unless you need to, Jeff.