This Black Lightning review contains spoilers.
Black Lightning Season 3 Episode 11
In many ways Lynn’s addiction is not just her literal dependence on Green Light, but her addiction to finding the answers. It was her determination to cure the pod kids that put her in bed with the A.S.A. in the first place. And even after getting a target on her back, her pathological need to finish the equation — to find the answer, to solve the problem — drives her to do things that are noble, but stupid.
When Sgt. Grayle finally decides he’s had enough of the A.S.A.s treatment of kids and civilians, he records what I assume is an account of all the atrocities he witnessed and participated in. Lynn gets in contact with him, and he brings her bag (with her drugs), then they concoct a plan to get Tobias out of The Pit so Dr. Blair can’t continue hurting kids in an attempt to recreate her cure. They get Tobias out, but before they get away, the Markovians intercept, and Lynn and Tobias are (presumably) taken. This is only the second operation we’ve actually seen from the Markovians, but it finally feels like they’re making their move. And they’re not the only ones.
After Jennifer fails to assassinate Odell, she finally tells her father what she’s been up to with him. She says Odell needs to die, and Jefferson only agrees that he needs to be “dealt with.” Instead of agreeing on a course of action, like a person with SENSE, Jeff tells Jenn to sit tight, and he enlists Anissa and Gambi to find Odell without her. Because this always works out. Jefferson, Anissa, and Gambi capture Odell and threaten to torture him. In an effort to save himself, Odell pulls out all the tricks.
First he says Jefferson won’t do it because he’s a hero, to which Jefferson replies, “I never claimed to be.” Oops. (Meanwhile, Gambi would absolutely give him that work, which Odell knows, since he trained him). Odell then, for the second time this season, pulls the “I knew MLK” card. First of all, SO?! Second of all, AND?! Why does he think this absolves him of anything, like he’s not committing egregious acts of violence against Black people specifically? Finally, in what I can only assume is an act of desperation, he starts reciting The Lord’s Prayer. The fact that he wasn’t struck down immediately is maybe a good argument for atheism, but Jefferson does the Lord’s work and hits him with his lightning, and maybe considers letting the angels take him, but Gambi pulls him back.
All of that gives Gambi the biometric data he needs to create a digital replica of Odell, a spoof basically, that they can use to order the A.S.A. out of Freeland. But of course, things don’t go as planned. Jennifer loses patience and goes after Odell herself, getting to him and her family just as the A.S.A. is closing in. Had anybody felt the need to loop Jennifer in on the fact that Khalil was still technically alive, Jennifer wouldnt have been caught off guard when Painkiller murder-strutted through door. She doesn’t know why her dad and sister are fighting Khalil, so she restrains them to keep them off of him. She tries to reach Khalil, bless her heart, but he keeps coming for her until she gives him the ol zip-zap. Gray is able to rescue Odell in the commotion.
Jenn is rightfully upset that no one told her about Khalil, and while they all claim it was for her protection, keeping that knowledge from her put her in danger. Painkiller only knows the Pierces as targets and wouldn’t hesitate to attack any of them, including Jennifer. Not preparing her for that put her at risk, and had there been less going on, her defenses may have been down and Painkiller may have been able to hurt her before she realized what was happening. Few things heroes do to “protect” people actually protect them, and largely, leaving people ignorant puts them in more danger. In this case, keeping Jennifer in the dark left her vulnerable.
That said, Jefferson is a father first. As a viewer, it is frustrating to see pertinent information being kept from affected characters for sentimental reasons. But for a parent, protecting a child from further heartbreak is maybe more important than preparing them for it. I just wish Jefferson —the writers really—would give Jennifer her due. She loves Khalil, and will obviously want to save him, but knowing that the version of him that she loves is not the one she will likely encounter in the wild is necessary for her to protect herself. If she’s mature enough to single-handedly take out an enemy stronghold, she is mature enough to deal with Khalil. The good news about Khalil is, somewhere underneath all the programming, he’s still himself and, according to TC, (who can communicate with technology) Khalil still loves her.
TC has been quite helpful, first in helping the resistance get their message out of Freeland, then in helping Gambi find out who tried to kill him. Last week, we discovered it was Lady Eve who put the hit out, but she’s dead now. Except this week, Lala reappears (!!!) and we discover Lady Eve has been resurrected, too. Why Lazarus feels the need to bring back people of questionable moral character is beyond me. But Lady Eve is running a brothel called Ultimate O and Lala has decided that he’s the captain now, so I guess gang activity is still thriving in these tumultuous times. Smh. It would’ve been very easy for the writers to treat Lady Eve like one of those changes that resulted from the universe reboot, but they just… had her resurrected instead. I am very curious where the show is going with these two. I don’t know the why of Lala or Lady Eve, but I hope it makes sense eventually because right now, it feels like a random detour from an otherwise cohesive story.
Had Jefferson prepared Jennifer to see Khalil, or had he informed her of the plan, Odell might be somewhere under guard and the A.S.A. might be hightailing it out of Freeland. Now Odell is on his way home to Gotham (they mentioned it twice, it must be important) and the Markovians (presumably) have Lynn and Tobias (I feel like they can leave now, they have what they need, to create their meta army, right?). I am excited for the Markovians to be real and concrete and not just boogeymen. I don’t need an entire Markovian army to march on Freeland —believe me the A.S.A. is plenty— I just want for there to be some kind of justification, even if it is ultimately a weak one, for the A.S.A. to have been allowed that level of authority. Although I can certainly believe that our panicked, xenophobic government would over-respond to even the smallest perceived threat from a hostile foreign power.
I love when the Pierce family is a unit. Jefferson, Anissa, Jennifer, even Lynn, are exceptionally powerful as individuals, but together, they are a force. Unfortunately, they are only ever to come together in extremely dire circumstances. Hopefully, Black Lightning, Lightning, and Thunder will set aside all the hurt feelings and petty squabbles, and focus on getting Lynn back, then getting the A.S.A. and the Markovians tf up outta Freeland.