This Black Lightning review contains spoilers.
Black Lightning Season 3 Episode 13
Last week, Black Lightning gave the Markovians form, taking them from the boogeymen Odell evokes to justify the A.S.A.s existence in Freeland, to real and tangible threats who have transgressed against the Pierces and made an enemy out of Black Lightning. Though we’ve seen Markovians before, it was always smaller groups or individuals, hardly a force intimidating enough to warrant even a little bit of that response from the A.S.A. This week, Black Lightning leads a team to Markovia to rescue Lynn, and that all changes…
In Markovia, Lynn is barely keeping herself together as she suffers through withdrawal from Green Light. (I’m still not convinced the story needed Lynn to be hooked on Green Light and I’m waiting for that particular choice to pay off.) But she hasn’t lost her mind completely, and refuses to willingly work on the meta stabilization cure for Markovia. When Mosin’s shock collar proves ineffective at bringing Lynn into compliance, Gravedigger (Wayne Brady) steps in and uses his power to “push” (force) her to work on the meta stabilization cure. But, when Jace explains how his powers work, Lynn counteracts them by taking Glimmer (which breaks the compulsion), then pretends to make a cure while secretly working on a way to free herself. Her mind!
Meanwhile, in Freeland, Jefferson’s assembly of powered family and friends train with the A.S.A. to prepare for their incursion into Markovia to rescue Lynn and recover Tobias. Unfortunately, most of the team are untrained and they continue to fail simulations of their planned assault. Jennifer asks Khalil to join the team, and per her usual, uses his feelings for her and his guilt about Painkiller, to convince him to help. But he refuses, and I respect the hell out of him even if I don’t fully agree with his reasoning. Jefferson catches him about to run away and is able to convince him to join.
The partnership between the A.S.A. and Jefferson’s squad is tenuous, and tensions are high among the group. When they arrive in Markovia, they break off into smaller teams, one to retrieve Tobias and one to free Lynn, but Brandon immediately goes off to find (and kill) Dr. Jace. On the way to Lynn, Khalil runs into Gravedigger and they go head to head in one of the cleanest fights I’ve seen this season. The choreography is tight and the camera’s movement really gives you a sense of how powerful these men are and how much destruction they are capable of against foes who are less evenly-matched.
We also get to see a stunning show of power and skill from several members of the team. We already know the Pierces are a force, but it’s always a treat to see them go full out. Grace shapeshifts into Mosin to gain access to the facility, and takes out two armed guards with ease. We don’t often get to see her stunt, which is a shame, but this proves she’s an asset, and hopefully means they will include her more moving forward. Brandon might be the most powerful among them, but he has yet to master his emotions, so he goes all out and maybe does too much. When he tries to kill Jace, Grayle is forced to immobilize him. He probably could’ve brought the building down on top of all of them.
Lynn’s superpower is her intelligence and resourcefulness. She convinces Gravedigger she needs his blood to expedite production of the cure, and uses it to temporarily infuse herself with his powers, which is what she did the night she liberated Tobias, and how she withstood a direct punch from him. She pushes Mosin to lead her out, and it’s just lucky her family was already there with a way to escape, or else she would be “free” in a foreign country that is in active hostilities with her own. Shout out to perfect timing—we love when the stars align.
This entire season has been leading up to two things: Freeland’s confrontation with the A.S.A. and the A.S.A.’s confrontation with Markovia. We’ve already seen Jefferson, Anissa, and the resistance take on the A.S.A. multiple times, but now the larger threat has forced the two opposing sides to unite under a common goal. Both sides have to weigh their own interests against the interest of their reluctant allies and, going forward, I expect we’ll see a lot more push and pull between the A.S.A. and Freeland’s Finest. The Markovians will undoubtedly retaliate, and Freeland will be an active war zone. The Pierces, the resistance, and the A.S.A. will have to adapt.
The writers have been consistent this season in pushing most of the characters toward these central conflicts with story choices that feel deliberate and purposeful. With the exception of Lala and Lady Eve, there aren’t many things that fall out of place, and I suspect their resurgence will come into play in Season 4. For now, I’m excited to see what happens when Markovia comes knocking on Freeland’s door. How will the city respond to the threat and who will step up against it?