Black Lightning: You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Til It’s Gone

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Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending a Black Lightning panel at The Paley Center NYC. The panel was centered around the concept of Good vs. Evil, and cast members Cress Williams (Jefferson Pierce) and Marvin “Krondon” Jones III (Tobias Whale) joined after we all watched the episode together. I won’t go too deep into the entire panel, but there were a few quotes and talking points that tie nicely to last week’s episode and the feelings I vomited all over that recap. Both actors emphasized that the show works best when it’s organic. Conversations about race and police violence are directly tied to the story rather than forced as if it were an after-school PSA. Jones III commented that “the show has done incredible things to normalize being different.” That’s one of the things I love most about superhero stories in general, that people of all shapes and colors can see themselves and know they’re not alone. Now on with the recap!

Previously on Black Lightning, Jennifer vowed to take down Tobias to avenge Khalil’s death, Grace ran away at the prospect of meeting Anissa’s family, Todd cracked the briefcase code unveiling information about the four supermetas who’ve been shelved for 30 years.

It’s Jen in a box! We start this week down in the Lightning Lair (which they keep calling the “sanctum”, but I refuse) where Jennifer is in an orb of some sort, testing out her powers so Gambi can get her suit juuuuuust right. The problem is, Jen is more powerful than any of them realized. We hear throughout this episode in various ways that she is essentially a literal ticking time bomb. Jefferson quietly expresses his concerns to Gambi, but unbeknownst to him, Jennifer knows how to read lips and is low-key hurt that her own father doesn’t have much confidence in her.

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Meanwhile, Lynn is in her lab mathing and sciencing and making final preparations for the Pod Kids’ move when Agent Odell comes in to inform her the move needs to happen sooner. The Markovians know where they are and the entire project will be in danger if they don’t act quickly. If the Markovians get the metas, they will become the most powerful country in the world. Lynn eventually agrees as long as Dr. Jayce is kept far away from her.

Oh Anissa, honey. Like myself, this girl must have a smidge of masochism within her because why else would she go back to Grace’s place after it was very clearly cleaned out? That’s neither here nor there though, because in her search of Grace’s apartment, Anissa finds an old photo of Grace with two adults, and a mysterious pill on the floor. Grace wants Anissa to come after her, right? I mean, she gave her keys! Grace had to have known that Anissa would come to the apartment to look for her, find it empty, and begin an exhaustive search to find her. Or maybe Grace hoped that who she believes to be her non-meta girlfriend will just think Grace got scared and ran? If only we knew more about Grace’s backstory…

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Anyway! Guys. Listen. The only thing that happened in this next scene is that Gambi figured out whatever was stolen from that underground location was radioactive, but LOOK AT HIS CSI HAT HAHAHAHA. I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop laughing.

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Tobias and Cutter. Reader, if you’ve been here before, then you know I’m particularly fond of this new lady assassin with a penchant for knives. You also know I’m not incredibly fond of Tobias Whale. He is a complex character whose background has colored many of the decisions he’s made, and I understand that. What I was NOT ready for, was for the show to make good on their foreshadowing by having Tobias and Cutter make out right in front of my salad. I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’m obviously QUITE scarred.

Before any of that happened, Tobias and Cutter choose one of the metas to “wake up” using a serum that Dr. Jayce gave them. Not only did she provide the serum, but she also gave them watches to control implants placed in the brain stems of the supermetas. The winner of First Supermeta to be Woken Up is…. Marcus Bishop! Marcus can control and emit vibrations. When he wakes up, Marcus’s first reaction is to attack the first person he sees, and that’s Cutter. The two fight and Cutter sends a knife Marcus’s way, but he stops it with his super cool supermeta powers and turns the knife on Cutter. Tobias waits long enough that Cutter gets nervous, before using the watch to stop Marcus.

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Down in the Lightning Lair, Anissa is using Gambi’s facial recognition software to identify the adults in Grace’s photo. She adorably tells Gambi that she’s dating Grace, and she’s really worried that something awful has happened to her. She finally sees why the phrase “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” is so popular. I will say, it’s nice to see how much Anissa cares for Grace, even if it took her leaving for us to see it. Before she heads out, Anissa asks Gambi to analyze the pill she found as well.

At Garfield High, one of Jefferson’s students is reciting a poem by Langston Hughes. After class, he approaches Jeff to tell him no one thinks Lowry should be running the school. That Garfield has always been a place built on second chances and that no deserves a second chance more than Mr. Pierce does. As if on cue, Jeff’s buddy Napier is back and he has news! The video of Jennifer calling Lowry racist has gone viral and the school is feeling pressure to deal with Lowry. There’s going to be a meeting during which Jefferson will be able to state his case and possibly even get his job back!

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And then Tobias and Cutter kiss like I said before, and an alarm goes off alerting them that the pod kids are about to be moved.

I’d like to take a moment to appreciate Lynn Pierce’s PJ game. Every single time we see her in the master bedroom, she is rocking some new fly silk PJs and homegirl is WORKING IT. Lynn tells Jeff that she may have found a way to stabilize the Pod Kids by using Looker’s substance (ohhhh so that storyline IS going to pay off…) and Jeff tells Lynn that he might be getting his job back.

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Before Cutter and Marcus head to the ASA, Tobias informs Marcus that he’s been asleep for 25 years, no he is not ASA, and yes, he will reward Marcus monetarily for any work he completes for him.

Meanwhile, Agent Odell wants to keep Dr. Jayce close in case the Markovians kidnap or kill Lynn and HOW DARE YOU, SIR?!

And now it’s my favorite time of the week… Pierce Sister Time! The two are hanging out at Anissa’s house because Jen had to get away from her parents for a bit. They’ve been more overbearing than usual since Khalil’s funeral. Jen is quick to assume that Anissa will take their parents’ side, but Anissa surprises her sister but taking her side and letting her know that she’s not going to be fighting Tobias alone. It’s such a sweet moment. Until Jen gets really real with Anissa about what might be going on with Grace. She thinks that Grace ran because she got scared and that Anissa is just assuming Grace is in trouble because she’s so conditioned to think the worst, what with being a superhero and all. Way harsh, Tai. It’s right at that moment that Anissa gets a ping from Gambi, so she runs out, but not before telling Jen to stay put.

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Soooo of course, the first thing Jen does is go out looking for Tobias. Stop #1? Club 100. After she gets the name of someone who might know where Tobias is, she heads to the old Seahorse Motel where she is woefully outnumbered. Eventually, Thunder comes to her rescue.

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Down in the Lightning Lair, the good news is…Gambi managed to dig up some information on Grace. The bad news is…there is no Grace. Grace Choi is a completely made up identity. You see, when Grace was younger, she was abducted and sold into a child prostitution ring. She eventually escaped (using her powers???) and went off the grid until surfacing later in Freeland. As if that wasn’t enough, the pill that Anissa found was actually a souped up version of a drug used to treat schizophrenia. So either Grace has schizophrenia, or whatever drugs is used to treat it also helps to suppress her powers. We’ve been jonesing for Grace’s backstory for awhile now, but I had no idea it would be this emotional. I’ve mentioned this before, but I haven’t read any of the Black Lightning or The Outsiders comics, but after some research, I learned that this is actually Grace’s backstory in the comics! Anissa is shaken and Gambi questions whether not she actually wants to get entangled with whatever else it is Grace is hiding. If I was a betting woman, I’d say Anissa would do just about anything for her love.

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It’s Board Meeting time at Garfield, and before his fate is sealed, Lowry tells Jefferson that Jeff isn’t the right person to be principal. He tells him that the students need is consistency, not to be coddled, and not to have their leader disappear on them. During the meeting, Lowry’s words run through Jefferson’s mind, and when asked what he thinks about Lowry’s ability to run the school, Jefferson requests they give him another shot. He knows deep down that Lowry is right. He can’t give his all to his students while he’s also giving his all as Black Lightning. As if to prove he made the right decision, Jefferson checks his voicemail after the meeting, and hears that Lynn’s warehouse is under attack.

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Cutter and Marcus have infiltrated the warehouse and taken out all of the guards. They join up with Jayce and Marcus can’t believe she’s still alive. He tries to attack her, but Jayce is pleased to see that the brainstem implants are still working perfectly. The group heads to take the pods to Tobias. Black Lightning and Thunder get to the warehouse, but they’re too late. The pods are gone.

After healing up at the Lightning Lair, Jen went home with Perenna where they spent some time in her safe space. Perenna tells Jen that if she doesn’t learn to control all of the anger within her, she will quite literally explode.

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The rest of the crew is back together in the Lightning Lair debriefing after the attack. Gambi informs them that Marcus’s powers sounded hella familiar, and it turns out, his codename was Shakedown back when he was part of the super subtly named, Masters of Disaster.

Meanwhile, the baddies are surveying their handiwork, aka the stolen pods, and Jayce tells Tobias that it will take two weeks to a month before the metas are at full strength. He’s willing to wait because he plans to be the most famous meta arms dealer in all the laaaand! Oh and hey, remember Todd? Dear sweet Todd with his whole future ahead of him? Well, Tobias had no more use for him, so Cutter gave him a “new car” which is code for… they blowed him right up!!

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After last week’s feels-fest, I didn’t expect to be super emotional this week, but Grace’s backstory really hit me hard. I hope we get even more next week.

 

What’d you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments! And a reminder, Black Lightning is going on hiatus until March 4th!

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