This Black Lightning review contains spoilers.
Black Lightning Season 3 Episode 10
Agent Odell is back on his bullshit. After Williams short-circuited himself by trying to beat Black Lightning at his own game, Odell had to come up out of recovery and gather his sorry ass team. He’s still trying to stabilize metas, but without Lynn, it’s not happening for them. I hate Odell, but I’m glad to have him back. Both of his replacements, Gray and Williams, were their own kind of problem, and I found myself missing Odell’s particular brand of menace. Bill Duke does what he came to do.
Speaking of doing what they came to do, Jennifer reappears on Earth-Prime (which appears to now be the one true Earth of the Arrowverse after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths) ready to murk Odell. All season I’ve been waiting for her to find some sense, and while her experience with her alternate-universe selves gave her some much needed perspective, she still has some searching to do. She came back from the space/time void with the lessons she learned from her good and evil multiverse dopplegangers, and what she took from that was… Odell gotta die.
Last season, Jennifer was this close to killing Tobias and Jefferson had to pull her back from doing something she might regret. But this season, neither her dad or her sister have been guiding her, and under Odell’s tutelage, she has become a more ruthless person. She and Brandon escape the A.S.A., who tracked her to his apartment and took them both. Instead of going the hell home, she waits for Odell, and when he pulls up on her his blacked out SUV, she lights him up. She probably would’ve taken him out, had he not been a hologram.
I am generally on the side of “do what needs to be done,” but I hate that it’s Jennifer who makes that call. I’ve talked about it before, but Jefferson has principles that he sticks to to even when his enemies have no such code or ethical mandate. He’s always fighting with a handicap, because his enemies are always willing to go further than him. Jennifer and Anissa don’t seem to have those hang-ups, and I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing.
Anissa, who was nicknamed Harriet well before her participation in the meta underground railroad, has always been about that life. Even before her powers manifested, she was unafraid to challenge the establishment and has the mugshots to prove it. She absolutely does what needs doing and it might conflict with her dad’s code, but Jefferson follows her lead this episode and they, along with the resistance, liberate meta children from the A.S.A. Anissa isn’t always right, and I’m certain her treatment of the Perdi will have repercussions, but she is willing to Go There and that’s the kind of energy Freeland needs right now.
The A.S.A. has no qualms about anything they do. They lock up children on the mere suspicion of being metas, they detain, and torture, and experiment on people. They have no line. They have yet to even justify their presence in Freeland. Why are they there? They are the only perceptible threat because — I ask for the upteenth time — where are the Markovians? What are they up to? Are they well? This episode is titled, “The Book of Markovia: Chapter One” and yet I’ve seen nary a one Markovian.
I’m still not convinced that Markovia is a legitimate threat. If not for my (admittedly limited) knowledge of its existence in other media, I would argue it is a complete fabrication of the A.S.A. who used the threat of foreign invasion to jump the bureaucratic line in their agenda to weaponize metahumans. I may be wrong, it’s neither here nor there, I am just very over the constant name-drop, when vague groups of white men have appeared maybe three times so far.
Earlier, I wrote about my disappointment with Black Lightning’s inclusion in the crossover event, and I largely feel the same even though I’m content to move on. The end of Crisis on Infinite Earths did bring Black Lightning into the Arrowverse proper, and that’s something I’m glad about even though I don’t expect any of the other heroes to make a visit to Freeland any time soon. Maybe people who haven’t given this show a chance, or didn’t feel compelled to watch during the crossover (because it wasn’t compulsory, but I digress) will take some time to get to know these characters and become invested in this world.
I am ecstatic that the universe reset did not magically fix Freeland or make any changes that drastically affected characters or undermined their development on-screen. I do expect a reveal that something has changed, like maybe Lala never existed in this timeline. (Where did he go?) One little tweak I would not have minded is Lynn having not gotten addicted to Green Light. It’s just… Why? I don’t enjoy this particular thread and it feels superfluous, even if it is giving Christine Adams an opportunity to go places she rarely goes on this show.
Lynn is cool, calm, collected, and even under pressure, she is generally measured. She may raise her voice a bit, especially when Jefferson does vigilante things against her explicit wishes, but she’s mostly firm. Lynn under the influence of Green Light is not measured, and an out of control Lynn is a wildcard. In this very episode, she tells Jefferson, she’s saving the world. She is completely convinced, and absolute conviction can be dangerous, especially with a mind like hers.
Save for the addiction storyline, and the unseen threat, I am satisfied with where this season is going. The writers seem to have a firm grasp on the story they’re trying to tell and the writing for each character feels focused. I know who everyone is, what they want, and there is no question where they stand. I think the question of whether there is a line and whether it’s necessary to cross it will be a big part of the story going forward. It’ll be interesting to see whether Jefferson softens his hard stance or convinces his girls to adopt his code.
If the season continues at this level, it will easily be the best season of Black Lightning so far.
Additional thoughts: now that Freeland is on the same Earth as Star City and Central City, will A.R.G.U.S. be coming to collect their folks? I feel like they can get Odell and them up outta there. What about J’onn over there in National City? Surely the D.E.O. is higher on the hierarchy. Come *clap* collect *clap* your *clap* people *clap*