This Black Lightning review contains spoilers.
Black Lightning Season 3, Episode 2
Jefferson and Lynn remain confined inside an A.S.A. facility where Lyn is trying hard to find a cure for Maryam, a young meta who was given greenlight without her consent and consequently developed the power to camouflage. Because she is a human and does not have the meta gene, use of her powers has caused her health to deteriorate. Jefferson is suspicious of Odell and believes he has an agenda in allowing Lynn to help. Considering the A.S.A. wants to control metas as much as the Markovians, it’s easy to conclude that he is working in the A.S.A.’s best interest, not Lynn’s nor the metas.
Anaya and her father find Anissa unconscious and help her and the rest of the refugee metas who escaped the perimeter. Last season, we met the Perdi, when Thunder and Black Lightning helped save Anaya and her twins from their rivals, the Sange, and the meta who controlled them, The Looker. The Perdi operate south of Freeland, beyond the perimeter, which makes their land a good place to offer safe passage. Conflict arises when Anaya expresses her displeasure with the number of new people being brought to Perdi land. Anissa insists, violently, that they accepted the money and are beholden to whatever deal they made.
It’s interesting to see Anissa take such a strong position, where she’s willing to put hands on Anaya’s father to make her point. While I get that her intention is to save as many people as possible, she and the rest of the people who have fled Freeland are guests of the Perdi. They do have a right to say “this is too many people” and it’s not on Anissa to coerce them into compliance. It’s unfair of her to bring problems to their doorstep then rebuff their demands when the risks for them continue to increase. What will Anissa do if she can’t keep the peace with the Perdi?
The Markovians — a squadron of white men — who touched down outside Freeland are patrolling the woods outside the perimeter. When they get too close to the Perdi, Anissa stealthily takes down several two-man teams. Now that they’ve established contact with a meta, they plan to escalate. I don’t know what that “next phase” looks like, but if I had to guess they’re planning to employ metas of their own. Or, they’re getting ready to introduce some tech that will make it harder for metas to fight.
Meanwhile, Lala has Tobias’ missing case and wants Tobias to come for it. He’s also determined to get back to business and regain control over the 100. Lala seeks out his old crew and is told that someone else controls the streets. He finds the 100 holding food hostage, and calls them out. The new leader appears and shoots Lala several times, including once in the head. Moments later, Lala stands up, wounds healing. His rival runs away and the gang pledge their loyalty to Lala.
It’s unclear whether Lala wants to be a man of the people, liberating food from the greedy or a man of the streets, flooding the city with drugs. Maybe he wants to be both. And with the power he has, being effectively immortal, he can be a big player in Freeland. How the A.S.A. will respond to the 100’s reemergence is anyone’s guess, but I imagine they’ll find new ways to manipulate the situation for their benefit.
Khalil, who we saw in a pod at the end of last season, appears alive and well at an A.S.A. facility. He has been stripped of all his memories and is designated Painkiller. He is a biological weapons system, and as a test of whether the A.S.A.s brain chip works, Odell makes Khalil’s mother his first target. Odell and Commander Williams will be convinced of the chip’s viability for use on humans and metas if Khalil’s programming supersedes his instinct. When Painkiller sees his mother, he does not react at all, and kills her without flinching.
Khalil wasn’t really close to his mom toward the end of his life. He was working for Tobias, then on the run, so while he wouldn’t actively want to hurt her, I’m not sure he would be triggered by seeing her. He did, however, have a deep connection with Jennifer. He spent the last few days of his life with her and they had deep feelings for one another. The real test of whether the A.S.A.s brain chip works will come when Painkiller is forced to face-off against Jennifer, who is probably the person he loved the most.
Speaking of Jennifer. She stops a fight at school between two boys who then turn on her. When they try to jump her — which is wild! — she beats them handily. I enjoy seeing Jennifer hold her on in a fight and can’t wait to see that same fierceness unleashed on an enemy she can go full blast on with her powers.
Odell tells Jennifer that her family is special, and they are allowed privileges, like being exempt from food rationing. The Pierce family is always placed in a position of relative power, compared to the other people in Freeland. Jefferson is right to be suspicious of Odell’s motives, he doesn’t do anything just cause. He is not altruistic. Odell gives them a semblance of power so that they continue to work toward his goals. As soon as they’re no longer useful, or they become a threat, they will be reminded just how little power they have.