Welcome to a very poignant, relationship-focused episode of Black Lightning! Even though none of the relationships were Anissa’s love life-related, they are still very important to me, and this week our characters got a little deeper.
Last week, Jen and Perenna, her therapist-ish, were establishing a rapport and working toward helping Jen control her powers through learning to control the emotions that set them off. This week, we open on a scene of Jen’s imagination in which she’s on her way to prom with Issa, and everyone’s really happy and cute, but Kahlil comes in and pain-pills everyone, leaving Jen to fight him alone. This leads to an epic hand-to-hand combat scene, and as Jen’s eyes flare, we see that she and Perenna are in the salon of their minds and Jen is aflame. She manages to contain the emotion into a flaming ball, but she can’t get it into the box. So, progress, but she’s still under house arrest, and still getting all kinds of messages from Kahlil that she’s trying to ignore.
Anissa spots one of these texts when Jen is in her room and both girls agree it’s important for Jen to stay away from him and not respond. But they have bigger sisterly fish to fry, because Anissa is moving out after an argument with Jefferson about her latest Robbin’ Hood escapades. Jefferson lets her know that as long as she’s under his roof, she’ll go by his rules. So she goes to pack, and ends up crashing at Gambi’s.
Gambi’s got some secrets of his own (again), because he’s harboring a dying Kara. She won’t tell him about the mysterious suitcase and whether/where Tobias has it until the very end, when they do the classic ‘dying character gets out just a few words before passing on’ scene, but she hands Gambi a cell phone he somehow never noticed before, so that’s a clue I guess!
Meanwhile, Lynn is attempting to do damage control at home and at the ASA, where Dr. Jace is being a sociopath with a blind need for data at the expense of pod kids’ lives. But they discover something about the meta-gene that could lead them to a whole new race of meta-people that could be used by the government probably for nefarious purposes! Cool!
Henderson finds out the hard way that Tobias played him in a plot to restore himself as a ‘pillar of the community’ and exonerate himself of his bad reputation. By destroying the DNA evidence and murdering the only witness in the murder of Alvin Pierce (Jefferson’s father), Henderson has no evidence on which to hold him, so voilá, Tobias Whale walks free spreading his gross evil everywhere.
Jefferson is really going through the ringer with Tobias walking free (he offers to testify against him since, in fact, Jefferson did witness his father’s murder, but he and Henderson are on rocky terms and it seems like it might not be the best idea or even help). He’s going through the ringer with his relationships with Lynn, Jen, and Anissa; and he’s going through it at work, where Principal Lowry is busy being the worst and violating everything Garfield stands for.
A fight breaks out between two kids, which Jefferson de-escalates skillfully, only to have Lowry come up behind him and expel the kid who threw the first punch while suspending the other one. Jefferson and Lowry get into it about the new ‘zero tolerance’ policy and how harmful it is—how it directly goes against the values of second chances and seeing the whole kid that Garfield was founded on in the first place. I really hope there’s an epic downfall in store for Lowry, but unfortunately this situation is all too true to life, and in real-life America, Lowry would always win.
This shot of Jefferson under a particularly important Langston Hughes quote from the 1938 poem Let America be America Again (sound familiar?) is the best shot of the series so far, in my opinion. It perfectly sums up what’s happening in the show, in the real America, and it is totally gutting that 70 years after its publication, this poem is just as relevant.
Lastly, the episode ends on a new development for Jen. With the new Garfield the way it is under Lowry, and her inability to fully control her powers, Jefferson and Lynn have decided to homeschool her and not send her back. Jen is very upset about this, of course, and what she does is she finally responds to Kahlil. They meet in the halls of Garfield, two kids in need of second chances. I hope they both get one.
Come back next week, BL friends! Can’t wait to see where episode 5 takes us!