Remember last week when I said, concerning Agents of Shield, “If I’d had weeks or months to wait between the end of this episode and the beginning of the next, I’d have been just a little bit more inclined to murder whoever it was who’d made it that way,” you know that bit? Turns out they’re skipping February altogether and their next episode airs at the beginning of March. Figures.
To quote Homer Simpson: Urge to kill, rising!
But, on the bright side, Black Lightning is going strong, I am so glad I caught it right from the beginning! 🙂
1.04 “Black Jesus”
With Black Lightning’s return official and very public, Tobias is finding himself… not necessarily in “hot” water just yet, but it’s certainly warming up very quickly and bubbles are beginning to form. Killing Black Lightning was his greatest feat, it became his calling card, he traded on the reputation he gained from it. But now that it’s finally been revealed that he did not kill him, he no longer has the trophy for it, and his reputation has taken a hit. Indeed, Lady Eve and her mysterious partners are seriously considering giving his job, as leader of the One Hundred, over to someone else. Not only is his greatest achievement completely undone, but people are starting to really notice Black Lightning, in no small part due to his proximity to the reverend and Khalil when they were shot last episode.
A new beacon of hope plus the tragic martyrdom of a promising youth’s entire future equals trouble for the One Hundred. The more attention is brought to them, the more force will eventually come down on them. And that’s bad for the higher ups, the puppeteers who profit from the One Hundred’s unhindered activities.
So, Eve and her colleagues want Tobias to deal with Black Lightning, and soon, or unpleasant things will be coming his way.
ADD moment: what was she doing?! I am still trying to reconcile this finely-dressed woman pumping something either in or out of a body, one that looks like it’s fresh from the morgue but somehow becoming more animated and awake as she does whatever she’s doing, which I have no idea what it was.
Meanwhile, Jeff is finding that the situation in his school is escalating too. First his daughters were kidnapped straight out of a classroom, then Khalil and Reverend Holt are shot, and now he finds one of his student’s very nearly overdosing on a new drug called Greenlight. Apparently, among other things, it makes people get wildly aggressive and a bit stronger. Jeff had to tase him twice with his powers to stop him before he hurt anyone. It’s only lucky it was that easy and nobody saw.
Jeff has some maneuvering to do in the wake of the kid’s fit. He promises to keep his student from getting expelled, but the Board of Directors do not take kindly to going easy on a boy who managed to endanger all the students around him. The boy made a choice, and if it happens to be especially ill-timed in that it could derail his chances at college, well, too bad. But the Board is willing to let this one boy skate this one time in exchange for Jeff surrendering his final-decision authority on disciplinary matters. In essence: he can use it one last time to save the boy, or he can just be overruled and fail to save him anyway. Jeff chooses the former, which seems especially stilted given that the boy goes nuts for the drug again, and needs Black Lightning to haul him out of the drug house he goes to, the owners of which took a tire iron to his father when the man tried to rescue his son.
In the boy’s defense on that last bit, one ceases to be entirely oneself when under the thrall of addiction, and addiction is exactly what was intended. This is why it’s better to never get hooked in the first place, not even a little. Just one taste can be enough. Especially when what you are tasting is specifically tailored to that end.
Greenlight is apparently a very sophisticated drug, one that hooks a user with one use, addicting them from the very first taste. I wonder if someone is field testing some component or other with the drug, like the quick addiction or the increased savagery. Certainly it doesn’t seem to be strictly the One Hundred dealing the drug, or producing it. That comes to light when Jeff chases down a lead, via an old friend called Two-Bits or something like that. First he visits as Jeff, then he “visits” as Black Lightning, trying both the carrot and the stick, and striking fear into the man. When he finds the warehouse it’s being dealt out of, he realizes he’s looking at something much bigger than One Hundred: well-organized, professional drivers, temperature-controlled eighteen-wheelers and a warehouse that looks like it’s being guarded by Special Ops. That’s a pretty heavy weight class to suddenly have standing against you.
In the grand scheme, it’s probably fortunate that Anissa got into trouble right then.
Jeff is feeling like his city is under attack, and it’s true, but that’s been going on for a long time now. It’s just only now that it’s directly affecting the people under his direct stewardship and protection, his family and his students. Anissa has not been so blind, thus her mounting frustration and anger. When her family is having dinner with the Hendersons, she’s going on about Black Lightning doing more good than the cops. Jeff is enjoying that, looking smugly at Lynn, but he doesn’t know what else is going on with his daughter, or he’d be considerably more worried.
She has a point, as the cops have literally been kept from doing their jobs by people far higher up the food chain, so the gang runs wild and innocent people are hurt. Henderson and Lynn have fair points, there are people indirectly hurt and, yes, it’s hard for a hero’s family to know that they’re in danger all the time. But the cops are in danger too, aren’t they? That’s no reason not to do the job. And as for the innocent collateral damage, they were already being engulfed by the violence and pain sowed by the One Hundred. So, yes, in this argument, I would side with Anissa.
But her awakened powers are very dangerous in the hands of someone as angry and zealous as she is.
When she sees two of her students with a pair of dealers, she pulls them out, takes their insults, and walks away only to return later like the hammer of divine justice. But for all the raw power she has, she possesses no control whatsoever. She strikes the two boys once each, and practically kills them. Actually, she may have done just that. We don’t see, but being punched by a truck is incredibly damaging. She sees flying bodies, and exults in the power, until she realizes she actually hurt them, badly, and she calls an ambulance.
That’s one difference between her the the vigilante she idolizes: control. Black Lightning has a lifetime of experience, too. Also, he has clear lines he does not cross. He does not drop bodies. But Anissa hasn’t learned any such compunctions yet. She’s all fire and power and wrath, untempered by the cold realities of life, or self-discipline, or compassion for even her enemies. She has been wronged, and she’s lashing out, with a simple idealism about what’s wrong with the world as her great excuse for her actions. Not unlike a supervillain.
When some thugs threaten her and hit Grace, she puts her hood up and lets loose on them, leaving imprints of her stamping feet in the very concrete.
…which actually give me some hope for her! She does plenty of damage, but there’s no bodies, and she apparently attacks the ground more than she does her assailants. Scaring them off, perhaps, rather than hurting them?
This happens to coincide with her father’s surveillance of the warehouse, and the noise she raises catches his attention away from his quarry, drawn by the immediate emergency. By the time he gets there, she’s nowhere in sight, but the place looks like a warzone. Gambi hacks the cameras to see what happened, but he tells Jeff that they didn’t catch anything before he disconnects and goes to investigate himself.
Ok, that’s twice within two episodes that Gambi has withheld information from Jeff, and it looks like he might have an idea already that it’s Anissa. I am starting to seriously question his behavior, but as we see Anissa starting to go over the edge, driven by her own desire to do good and encouraged by Grace, I’ll take any port in this particular storm. The woman needs help, guidance, training, understanding, and she needs it all yesterday.
Finally, and perhaps most tragically, Jennifer and Khalil are having to deal with his new condition: paralyzed.
Whatever the local medical staff might gossip about behind his back – good for Jennifer calling them on that – Khalil is determined and optimistic. Jennifer is supportive despite being torn up inside, but doesn’t truly believe. She’s willing to go to the wall for him, even quitting her place on track and field so she can be there for him, overriding her parents disagreement. Speaking of, good for Lynn for suggesting that respite from the argument, but they’re both still trying to tell Jennifer what to do without listening to her, which is a huge mistake. Khalil isn’t exactly thrilled about Jennifer quitting either, and it turns out he’s set himself up for a greater disappointment with his optimistic approach. The staff, his mother, and Jeff especially informs him: his spinal chord is severed. He’s paralyzed. He won’t walk again.
And now is when he’ll have to start facing the reality of his shattered dreams.
Which brings us back around again to Tobias Whale. Or, rather, this is where he comes back into the picture. He brings his sister Tori all the way from Florida, I think, to help him deal with the Black Lightning situation. It’s she who suggests turning the community against their protector, an idea with a frightening amount of merit to it. If they can be made to see their hero as a villain, they just might take him out themselves. But how to accomplish this extreme shift in perception? Why, they just need a spokesperson, and who would speak more powerfully to the community than the one they all have their eye on?
And so Tobias sets his sights on Khalil, looking to turn him. He showers him with gifts, helps his mother with the bills, and then, the very night after learning of his paralysis – which seems a little coincidental – Khalil gets a visit from his new patron, who’s talking about Black Lightning ruining both of their lives.
The Devil strikes when you are at your lowest, whispering anger, hate, and despair.
So, Tobias is under pressure from dangerous people, Jeff is dealing with a new drug that’s harmed his school, Anissa is going crazy, Gambi is keeping secrets, Jennifer is breaking down, and Khalil is targeted as a means to destroy Black Lightning. Did I miss anything?