Black Lightning: Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night

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*Insert Mrs. Doubtfire “HELLOOOOOOO!”* Well kids, we’re back with another season of Black Lightning and whew boi they didn’t pull any punches with this premiere. The CW is really going in this year (mini plug for that Supergirl premiere!!), which hopefully means we’re going to get an EPIC crossover in a few months.

If you’re new here, welcome! If you’re into recaps filled with rambling plot details, commentary on how it related to The Real World, and all caps yelling about pretty ladies, then you’ve come to the right place! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Last season on Black Lightning, Lynn Pierce spent much of her time researching Green Light and trying to keep the Pod Kids alive with the help of both Black Lightning and Thunder. Freeland became Ground Zero to a war with the Markovians, a group of people from Markovia intent on turning the metas that inhabit Freeland into weapons. The good news is that the Pod Kids were released safely. The bad news…is that they’ve been rounded up by the ASA and that’s where we start this season!

First of all, these new opening comic-style graphics gave me LIIIIIFE! We start in an ASA facility (The Pit) where several metas are being held. The first, Maryam Luqman, has an enhancement that allows her to blend into her environment like a chameleon. The next, Devonte Jones, claims to have no enhancements. And the third is none other than Jefferson Pierce, Black Lightning himself. You see, Jeff has been held for 31 days… just 6 days longer than it’s been since the Pod Kids escaped.

We learn this information from Clapback News (LOLOLOL) reporter, Jamillah Olsen. (Quick aside, it wasn’t until I rewatched this episode that I realized Jamillah shares a last name with James and Kelly Olsen from Supergirl. Now, this could be a red herring, but I’m choosing to believe it’s not a coincidence that another POC in journalism with the name Olsen just happens to exist in the Arrowverse.) We learn a few more things from Jamillah, including the fact that the government has been separating suspected meta children from their parents and keeping them in detainment facilities until they’re cleared of the gene. Sound familiar? Black Lightning has always kept one toe in the pool of lunacy that is the world we’re currently living in, but somehow I still wasn’t prepared for this parallel. It seems this storyline is going to be around for a bit, and I’m going to talk about this with as much care and respect as I possibly can, while also acknowledging that this is, in fact, a fictional world.

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The residents of Freeland blame one man for what’s happening in their city, and that man is Black Lightning. They also reference the mysterious Blackbird who’s taken up the vigilante mantle in Black Lightning and Thunder’s absence. There’s a moment in this scene that is almost a throwaway…probably unless you’re a Black woman. Jamillah signs off and gives her head a lil *pat* *pat*. This is one of those gestures that is so central to the experience of being a Black woman, that even Beyoncé referenced it in Get Me Bodied. The movie Girls Trip did a similar tribute to the silk bonnet and it was perfection.

Back to the realness, Anissa, Reverend Holt, and several clinic workers are surveying the detainment facilities when they’re interrupted by a meta named Cyclotronic. The guards at the facility try to shoot at him, but Cyclotronic stops the bullets in midair and sends them right back. Commander Carson Williams shows up, he and Cyclotronic (real name: Ned Creegan) trade villain monologues before Williams, who works for Agent Odell, kills Cyclotronic.

Meanwhile at school, Jennifer is literally getting fired up as her powers seem ready to burst through her.

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On the ride back from the facility, one of the nurses expresses her extreme displeasure at the fact that there are children in literal cages, while the woman in the front seat is intent on turning a blind eye and trusting that the government is treating them humanely. Betty is having none of it and peaces out of the van.

Lynn and Jefferson are stuck at The Pit for the entirety of this episode. The first time we see them, a very horny Lynn (her words, not mine) is ready to get busy with her husband right there, until they realize Agent Odell is in the literal room where it’s about to happen. He tells them about the Markovian attack, but won’t let them leave the facility because of the Markovian threat. Sure, Jan.

Listen, I don’t know what kind of money Anissa or Gambi have come into in the last 37 days, but holy shit the upgrades to Anissa’s car and apartment!! First, there’s a very unsafe TV screen in the dashboard complete with an AI that unlocks when the code word, “bizarre” is used. While Jennifer and Anissa are riding around, they watch Detective Henderson’s press conference on said unsafe TV screen. They then call Gambi and we learn why Anissa stayed out of the kerfuffle at the detainment facility; their plan is to slowly chip away at the ASA’s presence in Freeland and Anissa needs to stay embedded with the clinic. Gambi lets them know that he’s found a weakness in the ASA’s perimeter. Kind of like in The Hunger Games when Katniss found that tiny imperfection in the arena’s dome.

Anyway, the next upgrade is to Anissa’s loft! She gets home and asks her AI (did Lena Luthor make her one too?!) named Shonda (yaaaas!) to play some Chaka Khan while she opens the massive doors to her patio and saunters upstairs to reveal her massive closet which is hiding a secret lair/command center. She calls Gambi and learns that Commander Williams was part of the same trials as her father, but his ability is that he can mimic the powers of any meta around him. Gambi also asks Anissa to intercept a bus carrying more captured kids on its way to a detention center.

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And she does so gladly! One of my favorite things that this show does is set its fight scenes to absolute BOPS and this scene surely delivered.

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Back at the church, Reverend Holt is giving Jamillah an interview about the situation in Freeland. Holt is saddened to see children being taken away from their parents and maintains that their parents are only trying to keep them safe, while Jamillah retorts that they’re essentially being punished for their parents breaking the law. Holt responds saying that not long ago, Jim Crow was the law of the land, and that laws are fallible and not beyond examination. I can’t help but think about the similaries between this, and the arguments that happened this week (on Tuesday, October 8) around LGBTQ+ rights in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Jamillah asks Rev about his thoughts on Blackbird taking the bus filled with children, and Holt is unsurprisingly on her said. So much so, that after the interview, he goes into the parish hall where Blackbird and all of the kids are waiting.

We see a teen girl in a warehouse practicing her powers that looks suspiciously like the exact powers that Jennifer has…

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Back at The Pit, Jefferson realizes that he’s developed some kind of new power. He can see through the floors of the facility. The first time, he sees Issa in his room. The next time, it’s Tobias in his cell. When Jeff tells Lynn about this discovery, he’s confused because usually he needs Gambi’s tech to enhance his meta abilities. This power is new and it comes from within.

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At the Lightning Lair, Gambi and Anissa are listening to a recording of a man saying that a leopard ate someone?! Wait, that’s no leopard! It’s a shapeshifter, and that shapeshifter is GRAAAAAACE!!!!

If y’all haven’t already, please go look at Chantal Thuy’s tweets and Instagram about this next scene because I guarantee she was saltier than we were! Anissa’s at the bar, presumably hoping to run into Grace, when none other than Jamillah Olsen sidles up to our girl and shoots her m’fing shot with game I can only hope to emulate one day. Immediately after Anissa asks how you find someone (idk, maybe a lost girlfriend) who doesn’t want to be found, the two go back to Jamillah’s place and hook up.

Reader, listen. I am but a weak gay who can admit when her body reacted before her brain did. Because upon seeing these nubian goddesses embracing each other on my TV screen, I screamed with the joy of someone who was starved for QPOC content. And then, I remembered Grace (sorry, girl). Thankfully, Anissa also remembered Grace, and confesses that she was hoping to see her that night. Jamillah isn’t offended and even shares that she understands the loneliness that Anissa feels. She offers a low pressure drink or “talk” if Anissa needs it. Before they can continue, Anissa gets a phone call about her sister, I assume.

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Yup, it’s her sister except, Jennifer doesn’t look like Jennifer. She’s taken the form of the teenage girl we saw earlier, using a cloaking device that Gambi gave her. And then, we get another powerful Pierce Sisters scene. Anissa acknowledges how hard it is for Jennifer considering everything she’s been through since that night in the motel when Lala kidnapped them. It’s almost impossible for Jen to be a normal teenager what with the powers and all. But with all of that said, they still need to be careful about who they trust. “All we got is us.” First one of the season but *ahem* THE PIERCE SISTERS ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO ME DOT TUMBLR DOT COM!

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For anyone who may have forgotten, Issa’s power is that anyone around him is forced to tell the truth. Which is why Odell decides to have him interrogate a dying Tobias. Without his serum, Tobias is forced to age like the rest of us and homeboy looks tore UP. Issa asks Tobias where the briefcase is and what’s in it. What he learns is the Proctor (remember that douchenozzle?) was always meant to be a scapegoat. Proctor was working for Odell who was in Freeland under the order of POTUS. Odell was meant to gather up metas, turn them into weapons, and then make it so none of it could be traced back to POTUS.

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Issa isn’t an idiot and when Odell comes to see him, he wonders aloud why Odell hasn’t killed him since he knows the truth. Turns out, Odell did. By poisoning the food Issa had already eaten.

Odell and Lynn meet, and Odell tells Lynn that the Markovians have no more use for Issa, and they killed him. Once Odell takes Lynn to see Issa’s body, he tells her that the Markovians are hunting her and her family and the best place for her is in his hands. And again I say…Sure, Jan.

Meanwhile, Blackbird is leading the group of metas through the opening in the perimeter when a group of soldiers attacks them. As Anissa jumps through the opening, she gets blasted by one of their weapons. Jennifer and Gambi are watching from the Lair and Jen’s instinct is the suit up to go save her sister. Gambi stops her in her tracks though and reminds her that they need to go about this the right way, with patience. Even if Anissa is dead. Jennifer reluctantly agrees to wait a day before going through with their plan.

As the episode ends, none other than LATAVIUS pops up yet again from the dead.

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What a jam-packed premiere! I cannot wait to see where this season goes, especially when it comes to these meta children being detained. My wish for Episode 2?? GRAAAAACE!!!

 

Let me know your thoughts on this episode in the comments below!

Black Lightning airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW and is available Wednesdays on Netflix in Canada.