Black Lightning Recap: No Body, No Death?

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Hello and welcome to this glorious day that ThunderGrace has made! I don’t know if the Black Lightning writers knew that this episode would be delayed a week because of the midterm elections, but woooo girl was it worth the wait!

Previously on Black Lightning, Tobias was arrested and then almost immediately released from police custody, Anissa apologized to Grace for ghosting her, Dr. Jace continued to grind Lynn’s gears re: the Pod Kids, and Jennifer found herself stuck between homeschooling and a Khalil place.

This week’s episode of Black Lightning was the start of a new “book”, The Book of Blood. It felt like a new beginning in our story, with the introduction of new potential metas, but it also continued to follow threads that have been so carefully woven in the series thus far.

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You know who is still on his bullshit though? None other than Tobias Whale. The first time we see Tobias this week, Painkiller has brought him a gift in the form of Councilman Kwame Parker. You see, Councilman Parker is beloved by the community of Freeland. A wannabe “Audacity of Hope” type man, according to Tobias (SOLID Barack Obama shout-out, writers), and he intends to use that to his advantage. Inside that magic briefcase from the end of Season 1 was some dirt on Councilman Parker. He took money from Martin Proctor (yes, bootleg Donald Trump) in order to fund his re-election campaign, and if the good people of Freeland found out, they would certainly turn on their man.

It’s clear that Tobias intends to continue his quest to take over Freeland, because his new employee, Councilman Parker hosts a press conference to announce that an “anonymous donor” has decided to fund the Freeland Clinic and make some much-needed updates to their facilities and equipment. But what good would it do Tobias if the people just thought some Good Samaritan saw the plight of the clinic and decided to help? Well reader, if you said “Nic, that wouldn’t help him at all!” you would be absolutely correct! Tobias enlisted Painkiller to pay off a reporter to make sure he asked if there was any truth to the rumors that the donor was actually Tobias Whale, thus planting the seed in the minds of the community.

Speaking of Tobias and Painkiller, serious question: are these two ever going to have a conversation that isn’t dripping with drama or filled with parables that Khalil has to decipher? The most important things we learn from this scene are that Khalil has never had caviar, it was supposed to be the 20 year anniversary of Tobias finding MurderBangs, and Khalil is still the weak link on Team Tobias. It’s no wonder Khalil seems to be trying to rekindle his relationship with Jennifer.

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We got to see Anissa put her medical degree (or almost medical degree) to work by accepting a job at the clinic, and girl, that lab coat looks GOOD on ya! Her first patient is a girl named Anaya who is accompanied by her super jumpy boyfriend, Deacon. Anaya’s due to give birth any day now and Anissa assumes homegirl is READY to be done with this pregnancy. But Anaya is scared to be a parent and hopes she doesn’t do anything to mess up her kid. Anissa gives her some solid advice before sending them on their way.

While things seem to be going smoothly at the clinic, things at the Pod Kids Lab are not as rosy. Dr. Jace and Lynn still can’t seem to see eye to eye on how to deal with administering the serum to the kids. Jace wants to move forward even if it means losing some of the kids, while our girl Lynn will not be content unless she can help them all. Ultimately, Dr. Jace lies to Lynn and tells her that she figured out how they can save everyone, when in actuality, Jace went with her original plan and ended up killing many of the kids.

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One of my favorite things about Lynn is that just because she doesn’t have powers, doesn’t mean she falls back into a support role. She’s showing us that she has her own set of superpowers that she’s using to cure the Pod Kids and bring much-needed peace to their families. Lynn somehow manages to be the partner and mother that her family needs as they navigate a world where they have literal superpowers, AND she doesn’t sacrifice her passions for science and helping people. It’s not easy and it doesn’t come without a struggle. And sometimes, it can be too much for Lynn, and in my top 5 favorite episode moments, is Lynn punching Dr. Jace right in the face when she found out she lied. Mama Lynn was at the end of her rope with this white woman and she was not about to let that betrayal slide.

Reader, you might be thinking to yourself, “Did Nic forget the biggest part of the episode?!” Let me assure you, I did not. The cold open gave us Gambi driving through Freeland, picking up some veggies, having a good old time. That is, until someone starts shooting at his SUV. A chase ensues and ultimately results in Gambi’s vehicle careening through the air and exploding into flames. Now, I watch a lot of television (shocker, I know), and I subscribe to the “No Body, No Death” school of thought (#MAYALIVES). So I’m not entirely convinced that we’ve seen the last of Gambi. But what the possibility of his death did give us, was a look at how grief over potentially losing one person can affect their loved ones in very different ways.

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It’s never been a secret that Jefferson and Gambi’s relationship has had its ups and downs. Well, I guess technically the whole ASA spotter thing was a secret, but you see what I’m getting at. Gambi found Young Jefferson at a time when he was particularly vulnerable: his father had just died and he discovered that he had powers and clue how to control them. Through the years, Gambi remained a constant in Jefferson’s life, and eventually in his family’s life. Gambi became part of that family. At first, I thought Jefferson also watched Pretty Little Liars and would be leading the #GambiLives parade, but after watching the episode a few times, I think Jeff just wasn’t read to move from Denial into Acceptance.

From the moment Henderson came to the Pierce house to give them the news about Gambi, Jeff was resolute in his stance that the Gambi he knew would have planned for his death. There was no way that a man who had backup plans for everything, would have been caught unawares. Jefferson refused to go through the motions one does when a loved one dies. He didn’t cry, he didn’t fight, he didn’t reminisce about the good times, he didn’t go claim the pocket watch he gave to Gambi. Because if he did those things, it would mean he had to say goodbye. It would mean that his friend and his family was really and truly gone.

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Jefferson’s eventual journey from Denial to Acceptance takes place before our eyes. His physical journey starts alone in his bed in the dark and leads him to 2-Bits’ bar, where he planned to meet Henderson and hopefully get information about Gambi. What we see though, is a drunk and broken Jefferson, so desperate to let out his feelings, that he (rightfully, I think) punches out a guy at the bar who was assaulting a female patron. When Henderson gets to the bar, Jefferson is both physically and mentally exhausted. He gives and gives to this town, and it takes and takes and takes (“and we keep living anyway”- Hamilton).

Jeff’s last stop, is Gambi’s store. It’s the place that equals Gambi in his mind, and it’s the place where he finally starts to accept that Peter is gone. Cress Williams did a masterful job showing what raw emotion looks like. From his careful handling of Gambi’s tape measure to the defeated way he sat and admired the pocket watch, we could feel Jefferson’s grief and it was heavy.

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Everyone grieves differently and that’s especially true for Jeff and Anissa, though both of their grieving processes involved a bed… (I AM SORRY. NO I AM NOT.) Okay listen, I tried to think of more mature and thought out ways to talk about this but all I came up with was  ASLJSDFNSD;KFJALSDNFS;KDHF #THUNDERGRACE IS HERE AND QUEER!!

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Ahem.

Our girl Anissa is shouldering the hurt for both herself and Jefferson since he denied Gambi’s death for much for the episode. And how does Anissa manage that grief? By knocking on the door of one, Grace Choi. I gotta give ‘Nissa props though. She starts the conversation off by saying that she’s aware of how selfish her motives are, but Gambi’s death made her realize that if she could only spend her last hours on Earth with her family and one other person, she wanted that person to be Grace.

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Rather than jumping into Anissa’s arms with that proclamation, Grace is understandably closed off and isn’t about to let Anissa off that easily. Except she does. Anissa pulls Grace in for a kiss, throws her up against a wall and kisses her some more, before leading Grace into her own damn bedroom.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL, FOLKS. Imagine my shock when we got to see Grace and Anissa in bed the next morning doing their best queer post-sex processing. You know the kind I’m talking about. When you ask your partner what they’re thinking and you expect them to say “how incredible last night was” or “your gorgeous face.” What you don’t expect them to say was that sleeping with you was a mistake. But that’s what Grace says. She’s so cautious about letting people into her heart and only relies on herself because her family just wasn’t present as she was growing up. And then, Anissa walked into her bookstore and everything changed (THIS IS WHEN I GRABBED MY FACE AND SQUEALED). Grace wants Anissa to promise that she won’t hurt her again, but Anissa can’t and won’t do that which frustrates Grace. She storms out and in her intense emotion, her body starts to change. Her tattoos begin to warp and it looks like she has cheetah spots all over her body. After chugging some water, she’s back to normal.

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I really like what the writers are doing with Grace and Anissa so far. Yes, their meet-cute was legendary and yes we didn’t see Grace for most of the first season. But what I love is that it’s because Anissa was hyper focused on getting comfortable with her powers and that needed all of her attention. It was when Anissa started to diversify her life and activities that she started dating again and Grace came back into the picture. But it wasn’t easy and they didn’t just pick right back up where they left it. Grace was hurt and verbalized that to Anissa. I get where Grace is coming from. I really do. It feels like actual garbage being someone’s “handbag” as she called it, and I’m glad the show didn’t have her immediately go running back to Anissa. On Anissa’s side, she acknowledged the fact that she fucked up and should not have ghosted Grace because there’s real potential for a future there. My hope for these two is that they can learn from their mistakes and start fresh because by the way, THEY MIGHT BOTH BE METAS. And you know what they say about the couple that fights crime together… (do you though? Because I don’t and I’m assuming it’s a good thing.)

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Aside from the obvious ThunderGrace hook-up, my favorite part of this new “book” was the introduction of a new mystery in the form of potential new metahumans. Remember Deacon, Anaya’s jumpy boyfriend? Well, he showed up at the hospital with sores all over his face, and died in Anissa’s arms. That would have been traumatic enough, but then this silvery Alex Mack-looking goo started pouring out of those facial wounds! Before he died, Deacon begged Anissa to check on Anaya and make sure the baby was okay. Thanks to Gambi’s tech, Anissa figured out that they were from South Freeland so she heads there.

On her way, Anissa is pulled over by an officer who questions where she’s going, even though according to him, wherever she is, is closed. Fairly normal for a white officer stopping a Black female driver. Not normal are the worm-like things crawling around under the surface of the officer’s skin, or the figures quickly darting by the jeep window. Rather than investigating further, Anissa nopes the hell out of there and speeds toward South Freeland as the episode closes.

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This was probably one of my favorite episodes of the entire series so far. I hope they don’t drag out the reveal of Grace’s powers so our girls can fight alongside each other! As painful as it was to watch, I loved Cress Williams’ performance of grief and I’m interested in seeing if his denial returns as he continues to process.

 

What did you think of this episode? Do you think Gambi is dead dead? Are you shipping ThunderGrace? Let me know in the comments below!

Black Lighting airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the CW and is available Wednesdays on Netflix in Canada.