Thursday, June 20, 2024

Black Lightning Crucified

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After last week’s reveal that VP Fowdy is the ASA spotter, I’ve decided to expect nothing and everything. This week’s episode is the slowest in terms of pacing, but really incisive on its portrayal of police brutality and arrests. We also get some movement on the ASA conspiracy and even footing for Gambi and Jefferson!

ASA Problems

VP Fowdy as the spotter is especially shocking because we’ve never once seen her actually be bad, unlike the rest of the bad guys this season. That changes quickly as the episode starts with Fowdy asking if her subjects are alright since she’s already under quota and might have to get more if they lose one. Sigh.

Martin orders Fowdy to take care of Jefferson, while Thunder and Black Lightning blow up an armory full of more anti-Black Lightning guns. Cue the police arresting Jefferson at Garfield High for crimes he did not commit. (They stick drugs in his car.)

It’s a commentary on our country but also gives the rest of the characters time to shine while Jefferson is in custody.

Throwing Hands

Jennifer still isn’t having this superpower business but does almost fight the police when they take her dad. Watching him try to keep her calm is heartbreaking. The rest of the kids blocking the police’ way is also an incredible moment and serves a great payoff on how the writers have characterized the Pierce family. Anissa and Jennifer are definitely hotheaded while Jefferson has learned that he can’t react emotionally to everything. Obviously he’s had his moments, but never with the police.

The scenes where they process Jefferson for holding are really hard to watch but highlight that even cops of color are sometimes really terrible, especially in the context of the show’s police department. Really, the only “good” cop has been Henderson, whom Lynn asks for help after Jefferson’s arrest.

But the most important moment for me is when Gambi literally states that the national security apparatus can push buttons in local enforcement. It’s the most explicit commentary of anything this entire season beyond the Tuskegee mentions. Unfortunately, the Institute as Fowdy calls it—part of this national apparatus I’m sure—orders Jefferson’s transfer to what we know is a black site waiting to confirm his identity as Black Lightning.

The resulting conversation between Jennifer and Lynn is also an indictment of the Prison Industrial Complex without explicitly saying so. She asks what if dad never comes home, since this happens to people all the time. Oof.

Those people, however, don’t have a Detective Henderson though. He follows the money and gets Cayman’s partner in all this corruption to flip. While that’s happening, we’ve got the diversion needed to prove Black Lightning is still out and about!

Anissa at first wanted to just bust dad out, but Gambi makes her realize how bad that idea is. Instead, he puts together a hologram that works as long as nothing gets between Thunder and where the hologram is running. So Thunder chases after a car with “Black Lightning,” which one, makes everyone outside excited, and two, makes Fowdy think she was right this entire time.

Even though she requests permission to stop the transport, Martin tells her that it’s not her job. She just needs to monitor and facilitate. I hope she’s done by the end of the season. Honestly, all of our baddies have shown some motivation for their actions, but VP Fowdy has just existed. I don’t care about her except for being mad she’s been harming so many lives!

Fortunately, Henderson’s able to release Jefferson and he’s safe! (For now.) He also arrests Chief Cayman (hah, like the islands where rich people throw their money). Jefferson gets back to his family and they share dinner with Gambi, who actually says grace before they eat. Jefferson does not know if he can forgive Gambi (if ever). He also can’t forget everything Gambi has done and wants to find a new normal for them. First step is saving those kids!

Random Tidbits
  • Loved seeing some medical knowledge from Anissa this week. Also Uncle Gambi’s little pep talk.
  • I feel bad for all the stunt people, guest actors, whoever in the pods. Filming those scenes does not seem great.
  • Lynn called herself “his wife”!
  • The news interlude with the white grandma saying anyone who calls himself Black Jesus can do anything. It was both hilarious and so indicative of how terribly racist some people are.
  • Henderson’s new role as Deputy Chief! Please survive!

This episode was probably the slowest as far as pacing. Even thirty minutes into the hour (with ads) we’d only seen Fowdy, one of the missing kids’ pods alert the scientist he died, and the arrest and processing. Still, by episode’s end I felt that the pacing worked, especially in relation to how the final two episodes are definitely going to be the runaway truck going full speed ahead. Next week, Tobias and friends are back, there’s fighting in the school, and Martin’s going to ruin everyone’s lives. Eek!

Thoughts on the episode?

Image courtesy of The CW

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