This Black Lightning review contains spoilers.
Black Lightning Season 3, Episode 7
Freeland is in upheaval after the Markovian attack that left Odell gravely injured — but not dead, as we soon learn. The A.S.A. has escalated its aggression toward the people of Freeland in order to root out supposed Markovian cells inside the city. The A.S.A. go house to house, pulling people out of their homes, violently harassing them, looking for any reason to detain someone, or worse.
During one of the raids, locals start shooting at A.S.A. soldiers. Black Lightning steps in to stop the shooting, but he steps in front of the A.S.A. squad, protecting them, and taking out their assailants with his electricity. He inflicted violence on people who were protecting themselves and their community from an invading force, essentially siding with the enemy, cause his principles told him it was the right thing.
Jefferson’s principles are often at odds with what needs doing. Earlier, Black Lightning disarmed a bomb that Henderson had set to create a diversion, so he could lead metas out of the city. Henderson, rightfully in my opinion, took him to task for it. Jefferson should hold fast to his own principles, but he doesn’t have the authority to dictate what’s right for other people. It’s unfair of him to expect Henderson to operate the same way he does, when they don’t have the same tools.
Black Lightning has the natural ability to protect himself, his body itself is a weapon. Henderson and Reverend Holt are regular human men with regular human limitations going up against the A.S.A., whose soldiers are well-armed, well-trained, and well-protected. It’s necessary for them to use whatever is at their disposal to accomplish their goals, be that guns or bombs, the same way Jefferson uses his electricity.
Jeff is allowed to avoid things that don’t align with his ethics, or disagree with the use of tactics that he thinks put people in danger. But it’s not his place to police other people’s ethical choices, and nothing is black and white. Anissa says as much when she admits she herself has done things she’s not proud of to make the underground work. I assume she’s referring to her treatment of the Perdi, which has been abysmal.
Anissa asks her dad to get Grace out of the city, because she can’t control her shifts, and the A.S.A. is an ever-increasing threat. He’s reluctant, but she reminds him that she can’t do it herself because she’s still hurt from bringing Tavon back, which he asked her to do. It’s manipulative, if truthful, but I need this to be the last time she evokes Tavon to her dad. There’s enough guilt about his death to go around.
After Black Lightning’s earlier interference, Reverend Holt is reluctant to trust him with the metas, mostly kids, they’re sneaking out of Freeland. But the A.S.A. is closing in, so Holt gives it to God, and Black Lightning leads the kids, along with Grace (in her teenaged form), out of the city. When they run into the A.S.A., Jefferson doesn’t hesitate to protect the group, and they run while he lights the A.S.A. squad up.
Grace gets separated from the group, and when an A.S.A. soldier has her cornered, she shifts into the leopard and attacks him. (It’s what he deserves.) When Jefferson finds her, she shifts back into Adult Grace. This is huge because it means she trusts him. Her emotions influence her shifts, and they’re almost like a fight or flight response. Her “normal” form is her at her most vulnerable, so it’s meaningful that she feels safe with him, and has more people she can be herself with.
Jennifer also has someone to be herself with in Brandon, but he’s still feeling a way about her breaking into his apartment then ghosting him. She says she has info on Doctor Jace, which piques his interest, but first she wants to see what happens when their powers combine — spoiler: fireworks. When she gives him nothing, he gives her the boot, which…good for him!
Brandon was right that Jennifer didn’t know anything, but she wasn’t entirely lying. When she thought she was meeting up with Odell, she instead met with Major Gray, Odell’s temporary replacement while he’s on the mend. When Gray made it clear she wanted Jennifer’s continued cooperation, Jennifer leveraged her relationship with Odell and the AS.A. to get hold of Dr. Jace’s dossier.
Gray, who you may recognize as the instigator in the altercation that ended in Jefferson being beat down in front of his students at his high school, is in many ways worse than Odell. He’s a razor blade and she’s a serrated knife. She is more aggressive, more abrasive, and has none of the finesse or the poise. Where Odell has a (sometimes weak) pretense of civility, she is just brash, and won’t miss a chance to remind you that she’s the one in charge.
When Black Lightning protected her and her squad, one of the A.S.A. goons shot and killed a subdued person. Black Lightning snatched him up, as he should’ve, but Gray ordered him to let go. When he refused, she basically said, [paraphrase] “I’ll blow this whole shit up!” It took her negative seconds to escalate to “obey me or Freeland gets levelled.” She’s the f**king worst.
Lynn demanded more access to the facility and the metas housed there for her and her new colleague, Dr. Blair. Gray, needing to assert her dominance, agreed… with caveats. But it gave Lynn enough access to use the doohickey Gambi asked her to smuggle in, which in turn gave him access to the whole shebang.
Gambi gets into the facility disguised as a guard and leads Lynn to Khalil, who she’s shocked to see. Lynn examines his brain chip and discovers that his memories are still in tact. She wants to save him, but Gambi thinks she should put “it” down, which I wouldn’t have disagreed with if Lynn hadn’t just established that his memories — his self — are still in there.
And I’m not going to lie, I flinched a little when he called him, “it.” Because, while Painkiller has had his humanity stripped away or suppressed, he is still a human being who had a life. And his memories of that life, the feelings he had, are still present even if he can’t access them right now. Also, it’s just not a good look to have a white man call a young, Black man “it.” There’s too much history of dehumanization.
I guess it all comes back to ethics and morals. Jefferson intervening when people came for the A.S.A. may have aligned with his ethics, but was it morally right, when he knows the A.S.A. have done and will do worse? Not going after Colonel Mosin was an ethical choice, but if Mosin is as big a threat as Odell suggests, it might not be a moral one. Similarly, Lynn keeping Painkiller alive in hopes of saving Khalil may be an ethical choice, but leaving Painkiller to his destruction may not be the moral choice.
Whether Khalil can be saved is yet to be determined, but until it is, Painkiller is an imminent threat, and his newest target is Black Lightning.