This Black Lightning review contains spoilers.
Black Lightning Season 3, Episode 4
Metas are dying from a fatal virus that was created and distributed by Dr. Jace, who was working for the Markovians. Lynn has been working tirelessly on a cure, but after continuous failures and several losses, she turned to Green Light. An Ouroboros is a serpent eating its own tail and while there are many interpretations of what it represents, Lynn is devouring herself in her struggle to heal Green Light metas and find a cure for the meta virus.
Jefferson, meanwhile, is out of The Pit and trying to acclimate to an occupied Freeland. On the way to school, he and Jennifer are stopped at a checkpoint. Jennifer hands him their IDs and talks him through it; he is confused, but it has become routine for her. When rebels attack the checkpoint, they are met with strong physical response by A.S.A. soldiers. Jefferson instinctively reacts and almost reveals himself, as his eyes turn shockingly blue (pun intended). Jen calms him down, and reminds him that this is just how it is now. She’s more than just numb, she seems to be unbothered.
At school, Jefferson catches some students watching a video on their phone and asks to see it. It’s the video Jamillah took of Blackbird tossing a tank. He’s visibly bothered by it. When he gets to his classroom, he is met by the salty principal who tells him that the A.S.A. have him a demotion to school counselor with a pay raise, bigger office, and less work. It’s clear to ol’ boy that the A.S.A. sees value in Jefferson, but he doesn’t know why so he is pressed.
Later, Jefferson meets up with a cloaked Gambi to pass on the watch he got from Odell. I was pressed about the watch last week because I just knew Odell pulled out all the stops to make that watch unfuckwittable. Even though Gambi is a wizard, the A.S.A. is well-funded and also where he learned his skills — right? — so I assume any tech they use will be above Gambi’s abilities. I’m glad Jefferson had the good sense to let Gambi work his magic, but I will never trust that watch, even after Gambi gives it the once over.
The A.S.A. needed more places to hold suspected metas, so they seized control of Chief Henderson’s police station, even after assurances it would be left alone. It is abundantly clear that he doesn’t have even a semblance of power anymore and I am ready for him to say “screw it” and get with the winning team (vigilantes).
When Jennifer gets home from school, Odell is waiting in their house — again, like he has no home training — to be manipulative and menacing. She asks him why the occupation is necessary and why she should trust his word about the Markovians; she also mentions the internet censorship preventing her from searching for answers on her own, bloop. Jennifer has never been one to just accept things, so I was glad to see her questioning him. He tells her he can provide her the information.
Later, she receives a message with a link to a news story about the Markovians attacking and committing genocide in the Sudan. Nevermind that the video was sent to her by Odell — who is notoriously shady — and could easily be faked or manipulated, it moves her to tears. This seems to convince her that the Markovians are, in fact, monsters. Odell gave Jennifer a personal stake in the fight against Markovia by telling her they killed Khalil’s mom. Then he spoon-fed her questionable information about their war crimes in other parts of the world. This cemented hate for the Markovians and, worse, it made her trust the A.S.A.
Jennifer really believes that the occupation is a necessary evil. She drank the Kool-Aid. While in class, she and other students are debating about the occupation — and she is caping hard af for the A.S.A. — when Tavon, one of her classmates, is called out for potentially being a meta by a squad of A.S.A. goons. The principal is knocked out when he tries to stop them from forcibly removing Tavon from class. This directly challenges Jennifer’s argument that the A.S.A. is a peacekeeping force. Nothing she witnesses herself supports this idea. Everything she knows about the Markovian threat is secondhand from Odell. (A classmate makes a similar point about the unreliability of information being spread about Markovians.)
I guess I should be careful what I wish for. At the beginning of the season, I wrote that I wanted to see Jennifer explore, and become more confident in, her power. I had hoped, in doing so, she would take her place alongside her father and sister as Freeland’s hero. Instead, she’s being pulled to Odell’s side, which puts her in opposition to the people of Freeland and her family. Odell is giving her the license to use and grow her powers, even providing her tech so she can get stronger, but it’s evident he is grooming her to become an A.S.A. asset.
When Jefferson visits Anissa’s apartment, he finds Grace there by herself. When Anissa gets back, he goes off on her about: a) Being out in them streets, mad reckless like some Freeland Katniss Everdeen and b) Grace knowing she’s Blackbird (and Thunder). Anissa argues back that she’s a symbol who inspires folks. She also assures him that Grace can be trusted before Grace, apparently overwhelmed, shapeshifts into a younger girl. Jeff is confused, but she doesn’t explain anything before she tells him to get up out her house.
Anissa then comforts Grace by reassuring her that Jefferson isn’t a threat to either of them. She also calls Grace by her legal name and tells her she knows her whole story, and loves her anyway. She even says, “you, me, the leopard, the old guy… We all in this together.” I love them together. Even though Grace thinks of herself as broken, Anissa doesn’t see her as someone to fix, but a person whom she cares for and loves despite, or even because of, the traumas she’s survived.
Afterwards, Jefferson meets with Odell, and confronts him about the occupation. Odell swiftly reminds Jeff that, if he wants to get reckless, he can detain Jennifer and Anissa and put them through the same tortuous experimentation he was subjected to. Jeff then decides he’s going to have suit up and free Tavon, and other suspected metas, from the police station. He retrieves his new suit (the watch) from Gambi, who believes he has removed the tracker, even while admiring how futuristic and impressive the tech in the watch is. (I do not trust the watch, periodt.) Gambi also reminds Jeff that Black Lightning can’t be seen out in these streets.
So, Jefferson goes to Anissa for help, realizing that Blackbird can do what needs to be done. When she tells him what she’s been doing with the meta “underground railroad,” he jokes that all those years calling her Harriet Tubman were prophetic. Jeff used the fake tracker he was using while Gambi had the watch to make it look like he was at home, while he and Anissa liberated the A.S.A. prisoners. Later when Odell confronted him about it, he feigned innocence. But Odell did not buy it and said he had ONE pass it has now been used.
Odell is not just outwardly menacing, he’s also insidious. As it turns out, he used subliminal messaging to seed the idea in Lynn’s head to take Green Light. I’m not sure what the angle is in getting her hooked, cause she doesn’t seem to need an incentive to help metas. Then again, maybe it’s not about giving her a personal stake in the work she’s doing, but about making her dependent on them, so they can control her.
Painkiller continues to murder any target Odell points him at, while growing in strength and efficiency. He will be formidable against whichever Pierce he’s eventually set upon. And while I look forward to a Blackbird vs. Painkiller showdown — because it just makes sense — I am hoping we get full CW gooey cheese with a Khalil/Jen reunion. I want Khalil to see Jen, and for his overwhelming feelings for her override the chip’s programming, and for it to be a whole little moment. This is my one demand. Let me have nice things.
Finally, Markovia is a threat, but to whom? I still don’t know that we have any real information about what the Markovians want. What we know about them comes from Odell, and we’ve literally been watching him spin lies for four straight episodes. [Oprah-what-is-the-truth.gif] I’m going to need them to do… something. I feel like we saw that one squadron a few episodes ago but otherwise, they seem to just be reacting to the A.S.A. What *clap* do *clap* they *clap* want?! *clap* They need to B-E- aggressive because I’m getting good and tired of hearing about and not seeing them be Big Bads.