Monday, September 25, 2023

Thank You, and Goodbye: Black Lightning 2×11, ‘Prodigal Son’

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Hi Black Lightning viewers. This week stuff gets real sad, but we get a little of our badass women again, and let’s be honest, that’s why we’re here.

Last week, in a scene of pure horror that is typical of Tobias, he ripped out Khalil’s bionic spine and left him on the street outside the church. This week, the opening montage has Reverend Holt delivering a potent sermon juxtaposed with Khalil’s face-down body in a hospital room as his mother and the Pierces arrive to see to him. Then Reverend Holt abruptly dies on the altar, the victim of a poisoned handkerchief courtesy of Cutter, who walks out of the church as the rest of the congregation hovers over Reverend Holt.

No clever caption, just sadness.

So yeah, off to a pretty devastating start. While the community mourns the loss of the reverend, the Pierce family is coming together and back to themselves in the hospital. In a scene that made me straight-up weep—which is weird because I’m not exactly into this storyline in general—Jefferson gets called out by Khalil for asserting that Black Lightning can’t kill Tobias because “we need to trust the judicial system.” Khalil gives a pretty excellent speech about how dumb that is. This ignites something in Jefferson, who decides to finally let Henderson in on some more Black Lightning secrets. Like, how Gambi is alive and there’s a secret lair under his tailor shop.

The three men hatch a plan to take down Tobias for multiple murders (strength in numbers?) and send Henderson into Tobias’ apartment with a hidden x-ray-type camera that will reveal things hidden in the walls. Tobias does his police-mocking bit and Henderson leaves, having mapped out the location, make, and model of a hidden safe. Which, as Gambi finds out when he cracks it, is empty. Big surprise.

Anissa is finally given about 3 seconds of character development too. Alone in her room, she’s got a picture of Grace on her lock screen on the bed, surrounded by newspaper clippings about Tobias, and she’s clearly thinking hard. Then Grace shows up at the hospital with takeout to be the supportive girlfriend Anissa doesn’t really deserve but it’s nice anyway. At this point I’m grasping at queer straws, but the scenes between them are very sweet.

Queers bringing the love, as usual.

Jen, whose hair has been transformed into a really cute bob, is (not surprisingly) going through hell. In the hospital parking lot, she stabilizes herself against a car while she cries, only to be accused by a white lady of trying to steal it. The white lady calls the police in an exact replica of what happens every day in this country, and that’s the last straw for Jen, who uses her powers to torch the car, claiming it was lightning. It’s honestly so satisfying to watch. But the satisfaction doesn’t last long because Jen starts to lose control, unable to hide her glowing hands. Jefferson hurries her into a utility closet and tries to absorb the extra power but can’t, and then Jen’s whole body begins to glow.

But never fear, because World’s Greatest Therapist/Fairy Godmother Perenna appears outside the door and shoos Jefferson away. She talks Jen down by reminding her of her inner strength and power.

Jen then gets the idea that Lynn could get a rapidly dying Khalil into a pod in order to preserve him while they figure out how to heal him/give him a new spine. Lynn agrees to try, bypassing another white-lady obstacle (this time a nurse), but concludes that Khalil wouldn’t survive the anesthesia required to pod him. Shoutout to Lynn, once again stepping up and being VIP human and mom, back in her element. She tries hard and if that doesn’t work she deals with it. In this case, she’s 200% there for her grieving daughter. Moms do NOT get enough credit.


As Khalil slowly dies, surrounded by the people who love him, Jen is somehow able to get him into her consciousness (the safe place she built with Perenna’s help), and they’re at prom. It’s so cheesy but so sad?! Then they say goodbye and he’s gone.

Now, I have strongly disliked the entire Khalil-Jen storyline that’s eaten up so much of season 2A. I think Khalil’s character has been overbearing and their interactions have had some very problematic moments. Even so, this was a moving scene. I hope this means we can get more autonomy for Jen and maybe more interesting storylines in general? I can dream.

Meanwhile, Tobias is busy being, you guessed it, horrific! Somehow Todd has become a willing second-hand man, which confuses me. Who is this guy with such ostensibly solid morals? Because now he seems like a goofy sidekick. I mean, smart as hell, but still. Anyway, he helps Tobias break Carrie Anne Moss Dr. Jace out of prison in order to get Tobias into the clinic where the pod kids are. First, Tobias has to smash down a concrete wall with a sledgehammer to prove his masculinity, and then Dr. Jace enters a code. Oh yeah, and apparently Tobias takes an anti-aging serum that Dr. Jace invented back in the day, but I’m assuming what he really wants is to be meta, which is why he wants access to the pod kids so badly.

The end.

That’s it for this week! I’m optimistic we’re getting our badass women back after this episode, but I’m not all that optimistic about the queer representation on this show. Whatever happens, I’ll see you next week!

Images Courtesy of The CW


  • Sarah

    Sarah divides her mental energy between analyzing/crushing on queer characters, training for marathons and sometimes on her day job.

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