Black Lightning’s Khalil Continues to Shine in Season 4

Since his reintroduction in the Painkiller backdoor pilot, Khalil has been a narrative force in Black Lightning's final season.

Jordan Calloway as Khalil in Black Lightning Season 4
Photo: The CW

This Black Lightning article contains spoilers through Season 4, Episode 11.

Black Lightning is sauntering into its final few episodes with the confidence of a keyboard warrior in a woman’s twitter mentions. It’s casual in a way that’s both worrisome and impressive, and one has to wonder if they got it or if they just think they do. Coming into the season, I felt like the writers were ramping up towards a finale that would be explosive, but so much has happened already, the story has plateaued. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy watching, but I’m less invested than I hoped I’d be by this point.  Part of that is due to the fact that the Pierces can’t seem to lose, and that’s still the case in “The Book of Reunification: Chapter Two: Trial and Errors.”

Jefferson began the season grieving the loss of his best friend and grappling with the resulting guilt. He’d abandoned Black Lightning and was ready to let him go for good. But now that his powers have been taken away, he’s struggling with the idea that he may never be Black Lightning again. We’ve seen what Freeland is like without its hero, but that was before the ASA and Markovia. What would it mean for Jefferson to lose his powers for good? We could go into the series finale with the titular hero devoid of powers. And as unlikely as that is, it is the kind of choice that could pay off if the writers fully commit to it. Black Lightning has always shown up for Freeland; perhaps, in the finale, Freeland will need to show up for him.

Despite the fact that Painkiller still feels compelled to execute the Pierces, Khalil shows up for them. Khalil has been a force ever since his reintroduction in the backdoor pilot for his solo show, Painkiller. Last week, he recovered Tobias’ business ledger, giving him information that could exonerate the Pierces and take Tobias down. He discovered that Tobias has been paying the Looker beaucoup cash to mind-control people into framing Jefferson and Lyn. He offers to track Looker down and persuade her to admit to what she’s done. When Khalil finds the Looker, she tries to take control of him. Because she’s a meta who controls the mind, we’re able to watch them fight inside of Khalil’s mental landscape. It’s a cool action piece and a great way to visualize Looker’s powers from her perspective.

Ad – content continues below

Jefferson, meanwhile, has to convince Detective Shakur to help him slip a serum into the FBI agent’s drink, in order to prove he’s under Looker’s influence. Shakur is hesitant to trust Jefferson at first but he comes around, and that faith is rewarded when the FBI agent ejects Looker’s silver liquid, and agrees to make things right… as much as he can. Jefferson having an ally in the PD has been crucial this season, though I’d hoped for more interplay between Chief Lopez, Jefferson, and Detective Shakur. When Lopez goes to Tobias for more firepower, she goes all in on meta-racism when he offers her meta-boosters instead. She blames metas for literally everything wrong with the world, and there is not enough time to unpack all of that, so hating metas real hard will just have to do. She could be formidable, but she’s just a mild annoyance at this point. I wanted more from Lopez, but I’m happy at least Shakur has proven to be a solid addition to the team, even if he remains skeptical.

Jennifer should be more skeptical, and generally…. smarter. She ghosts Uriah because she thinks he set her up with FPD even though that’s hella illogical, and TC helps her find some damn sense by confirming that someone else—Lopez, obviously—hacked him. TC also points out that her use of social media is what has been causing all this trouble, which everyone warned her about. Earlier in the season I talked about Lightning being on social media and how that could impact her, and now we’re seeing the ramifications of her choices. I like that Black Lightning took this route with Jen. What I do not like is how the show punishes her by having Tobias—by way of Red— kill Uriah.

Stop introducing characters solely to kill them in service of the leads, and stop using them as collateral damage to magnify the stakes. We are here, and we are invested. Now is the time to focus on the characters we’ve already spent time with and care about, it is not necessary to throw bodies at us to reaffirm the bad guys are bad. Tobias is ruthless, we get it. It is much more meaningful to see Tobias’ plans come together than watch him enact violence on yet another person—bruh ripped out a whole spine twp seasons ago, we. get. it. Though, it should be said that Tobias is an entire dumbass. He is a master planner and manipulator yet wasted the powers of mind control on framing Jefferson instead of using it to get one of the Pierces to try to kill the other, or one of their other loved ones, or… literally anything else. But I digress. The Pierces have been able to counter every move he’s made, and I’m hoping he has more in store.

Just when it seems there is a clear endgame for Black Lightning, the writers drop something new. Gambi and Anissa explain to Lauren how Tobias used her research and Monovista’s resources to do harm. When Lauren and Gambi search for the emitter, they find a large deposit of Promethium instead. It takes only small amounts of Promethium to power the direct energy guns, there is no telling what can be powered by the Prometheum that runs underneath Freeland. This could relate to whatever Tobias is planning or it could be nothing. But at this stage I expect there to be major implications of that discovery and I hope whatever it is, it shakes the show up!

Additional thoughts.

Ishmael should be issuing refunds! He hasn’t killed a single target except Lala who was caught slippin’ (and is technically still alive and encased in concrete). Why Tobias would then task him with killing Khalil, when he has yet to check a single box on his to-do, is beyond me. But Ishmael vs Khalil/Painkiller is a matchup I want to see.

Ad – content continues below

Jefferson asks Lynn to get remarried and she lightly brushes it off. They have been more toxic than not over the course of the show, and it could be really powerful for either or both of them to choose themselves over their relationship.