Title: Black Lightning Season 1 Episode 4: “Black Jesus”
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction, Superhero
Platform: TV – CW
Director: Michael Schultz
Writer:  Pat Charles
Rating: TV-14
Release: February 6, 2018
Cast: Cress Williams, Nafessa Williams, China Anne McClain, Christine Adams
Feature image: Source

[Spoilers]

“Your entire criminal career was built on the belief that you killed Black Lightning…. It’s like you lied on your resume.” Lady Eve – Black Lightning

At Garfield High, Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) is walking down the hallway when his students run up to him and tell him there is a commotion in the bathroom. When he walks in, one of his students Bernard Lewis, (Michael King) is freaking out. He is scared at first but then goes into a rage and tears a urinal off the wall and throws it at Jefferson. Jefferson has to zap him twice to subdue him. He searches his pockets and finds a small packet of drugs. Anissa Pierce is driving to school enjoying her jams when she sees two of her students hanging out on a street corner trying to buy some drugs. She stops and orders the two girls in her car. One of the dealers shows Anissa his gun while the other one calls her a bitch. I’m willing to bet that Anissa won’t forget that. Jefferson shows the drugs to Peter Gambi; he tells Jefferson the drugs name is Green Light on the streets. Jefferson tells Gambi they need to go hard at the One Hundred for this. Later that night Black Lightning hits the streets, beats up, and questions a thug. The thug reveals that the man in charge is Two-Bits (Jason Louder).

Lady Eve (Jill Scott) is at her funeral home embalming someone. Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III) is present. Lady Eve: “Tobias, did you know that in Africa some people believed that albinos were magical, these people would kidnap random albinos, cut them up and grind their bones and sell it as magic dust.”  Tobias: “Yes, I’m aware of that.”  She gives us some background on Mr. Whale; he was a disgraced politician who went underground. He works for the group Lady Eve is part of and because of his good work, they gave him the One Hundred gang to run. The group is upset about the reappearance of Black Lightning. “Your entire criminal career was built on the belief that you killed Black Lightning…. It’s like you lied on your resume,” Lady Eve says. “Black Lightning’s death was your calling card, and now people are beginning to feel like they’ve been deceived and it’s affecting my bottom line.” Lady Eve: “If I were you, I would use some of that albino magic to get it done. Because if you don’t, my partners are going to turn you into dust. Do you understand?”  Tobias: “Yes.”  Lady Eve: “Good.”  The body that Lady Eve was embalming opens their eyes. OMG!

Bernard and his father, Mr. Lewis (Derrick LeMont) meet with Jefferson and Vice-Principal Kara Fowdy (Skye P. Marshall) about the incident. Mr. Lewis tells them that Bernard had not been in trouble before and that four colleges have admitted him. The school board plans to suspend Bernard, but Jefferson promises he can stay and remain on the path to going to college. He asks Bernard where he got the drugs. Bernard says he isn’t a snitch but his father tells him he is. Bernard got the drugs from Ronald Wright who gave him a free sample. After the father and son leave his office, Fowdy tells Jefferson that the school board won’t like him letting Bernard stay in school. He tells Fowdy to tell the school board it’s his school and he’ll run it as he sees fit. Fowdy: “I’m the vice principal, not your secretary, so if you want the board to know something, you should tell them yourself.” Jefferson calls Gambi to tell him, who supplied the drugs to Bernard, but Gambi is outside a crime scene, Ronald Wright is dead from an overdose. Gambi: “Evidently Mr. Wright didn’t follow the No. 1 rule of being a drug dealer: don’t get high on your own supply.”

“Was he dressed like Earth, Wind, and Fire? Was he dressed like Maurice White?” Tobias Whale – Black Lightning

Khalil (Jordan Calloway) is doing physical therapy at the hospital with Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain) by his side. Some nurses outside are wondering why he is even bothering with the physical therapy when his condition is hopeless. Jennifer tells them they can hear them. Khalil tries to remain brave. Khalil: “I’m gonna be alright.”  Jennifer: “Yeah, I know. I know you will.” She leaves his room so that she can cry. Tobias and one of his henchman are beating and talking to the Coroner (Estes Tarver) who declared that the body they pulled out of the river nine years ago was Black Lightning. Tobias: “Was he dressed like Earth, Wind, and Fire? Was he dressed like Maurice White?” The Coroner just assumed the body was Black Lightning. Tobias tells the Coroner he owes him a death and has his henchman beat him to death. Jefferson and Lynn (Christine Adams) catch Jennifer before she can go upstairs to her room about skipping track practice to be with Khalil. They sympathize with her wanting to help Khalil but they want her to concentrate on school and herself. Jefferson orders her to apologize to her coach. Jennifer drops the bomb that she is going to quit track. Jefferson is upset; she continues that she only ran track to please him. Lynn tells her to give it two days and if she still wants to quit, she can. Jefferson is exasperated.

“Oh, I got your Green Light. Who’s the bitch now?” Anissa Pierce – Black Lightning

Lynn and Jefferson are having dinner with Inspector Henderson (Damon Gupton) and his wife. Anissa is with them, she says that if she had some kind of powers she would use them. Even with all the praying, marching, and policing, nothing has changed. She praises Black Lightning and wonders why the police aren’t working with him. Henderson points out that Black Lightning is a vigilante. Anissa points out that he saves lives while Henderson counters that he does just as much harm. Jefferson quietly listens and smiles as his daughter stands up for Black Lightning. Lynn says that it must be hard on his family, Anissa is sure he gets the support of his family. Anissa announces she has to leave; Jefferson walks her to the door and asks if she is alright, she tells him she is. She drives over to the street corner where the drug dealers were that morning. She raises her hood over her head to conceal her identity. Drug Dealer: “I got that Green Light.”  Anissa: “Oh, I got your Green Light. Who’s the bitch now?” She hits both men and they lay on the ground having trouble breathing. Anissa checks their pulses and calls an ambulance for them.

“Before you go, can I get a pic? And, make sure you light up.”  Frank ‘Two-Bits’ Tanner – Black Lightning

Jefferson goes to a seedy bar to talk to Frank ‘Two-Bits’ Tanner.  Two-Bits sees Jefferson and tells the men sitting at his table, “Hey, oh this dude right here, he could turn off a light and be in bed before the room got dark.” Jefferson tries to be reasonable and asks Two-Bits to stop selling Green Light. Two-Bits tells him that he has to do it to feed his family. Jefferson talks to Gambi over the phone, he tells him that Green Light is a mix of crack and PCP and it will immediately get you hooked. Over 36 people have OD’ed on the drug; he is surprised it hasn’t been on the news. Jefferson: “Black kids OD’ing has never been newsworthy.” Gambi suggests Jefferson keep an eye on Bernard. Since Black Lightning has returned the One Hundred have begun to act more sophisticated, they are acting like terrorist cells. Jefferson decides that it is time for Black Lightning to pay Two-Bits a visit. Later that evening, Black Lightning walks in the bar and knocks out a few hoods. Two-Bits knows how Black Lightning operates, he’ll knock him out and call the police. Two-Bits has two strikes already, a third strike will give him 30 years in prison. He’ll tell Black Lightning what he needs to know if Black Lightning will only knock him out and not call the cops. Black Lightning agrees to this, but only if Two-Bits stops selling drugs. If he catches him selling drugs, he won’t be so merciful next time. Two-Bits gives Black Lightning the information he requests. Two-Bit: “Before you go, can I get a pic? And, make sure you light up.”  Black Lightning: “What? No!” Black Lightning knocks the fool out.

Jennifer goes to the hospital to see Khalil; she tells him she is going to quit the track team, he doesn’t respond and appears more interested on what is on TV. A board member meets with Jefferson and Ms. Fowdy. She tells them that the board plans to suspend Bernard.  After the board member leaves, Ms. Fowdy points out that at a point, students are responsible for their own actions. Jefferson confides that he is worried that if he goes against the board on Bernard, they will fire him when his contract comes up for renewal and they will bring someone outside the community to run the school. Ms. Fowdy assures Jefferson that she is behind him.

A woman in a fancy car is driving to Tobias’ house. He is inside feeding rats to his pet piranhas. His sister Tori (Edwina Findley Dickerson) enters and tells him how nasty it looks with him feeding his piranhas. She would only come back from Miami for something big; she asks how Black Lightning will die.

That evening, Black Lightning is surveying the warehouse that Two-Bit told him about. Gambi has outfitted him with electric vision; it allows him to see the electric signatures of all objects [their version of x-ray vision].  Anissa is outside the Red Lipstick talking to Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy). She thinks it is okay for her as an adult to keep some stuff from her parents. With his electric vision, Jeff can see inside the warehouse and comments to Gambi that this operation looks too sophisticated for the One Hundred. Some homophobes pull up and recognize Grace as the bartender at the Red Lipstick; these men don’t like lesbian bars and plan on burning it down. One of the men hits Grace and knocks her out. Anissa with her enhanced strength tosses him away. His buddies converge on Anissa. Jefferson hears several explosions miles away. He decides to investigate it, against Gambi’s suggestion that he maintain his surveillance of the drug shipment. When Jefferson arrives at the Red Lipstick, he finds several men knocked out and major damage to the parking lot. Gambi is checking the camera feeds and sees Anissa with her hood up stumping on the ground causing the damage. [I’m not sure if Gambi recognized Anissa.] He doesn’t tell Jefferson what he saw. After Jefferson leaves, Gambi goes over to the Red Lipstick parking lot with a shotgun and investigates. He spots a footprint where Anissa stumped on the ground causing shock waves. Anissa is with Grace back at her apartment gently tending to her wounds. She asks if she could make bad things happen to bad guys, wouldn’t that be a good thing. Grace agrees it would be.

“What are you saying? Am I never going to walk again?”  Khalil – Black Lightning

A newscast is talking about Khalil and his condition. Tobias is discussing killing Black Lightning; he can’t go out and do it himself because there are warrants out on him. Tori tells him that if they can convince the community that Black Lightning is a bad guy, the community will kill him for them. She looks at the newscast and says they could use Khalil, by convincing him to blame Black Lightning for what has happened to him. Jennifer enters Khalil’s hospital room and it is filled with free stuff from an anonymous donor. He tells Jennifer he not only received all of this free stuff, but the anonymous donor is paying his hospital bills and helping his mother with their rent. Jefferson and Khalil’s mother (Yolanda T. Ross) enter his room, she asked Jefferson to come and give Khalil the bad news. Jefferson: “Khalil, they’re telling us that your spinal cord is now completely severed.” Khalil: “What are you saying? Am I never going to walk again?”  Jefferson: “I’m a sorry son.”

Back at school, Ms. Fowdy relays a message from the board, if Jefferson gives up final say in discipline; they’ll let Bernard stay in school. He hesitates, but takes their offer. He calls Lynn to tell her that the situation with Khalil is bothering him and that he is having trouble dealing with the collateral damage as he did when he was younger. Lynn is curt with him and says she can’t discuss it. Bernard’s father contacts Jefferson; Bernard went to the dope house to get more Green Light. When he went to the dope house to get his son, the One Hundred-gang members’ pistol-whipped him. Black Lightning goes to the dope house to retrieve Bernard; he takes out the gang members and carries an unconscious Bernard out. Jefferson speaks to Bernard’s father after they have placed him in a drug rehab facility. He is going to try to get Bernard into college once he is out. Lynn calls Jefferson back to apologize for her behavior on the phone. She is still upset with him for being Black Lightning again and was taking it out on him. Khalil is back home in bed; he is startled when he sees a strange man sitting beside his bed. It is Tobias Whale; he tells Khalil he is the anonymous donor. He saw Khalil on TV and wanted to help. He knows how it is when you need help. He blames Black Lightning for his condition. Tobias: “If you’d like, I can show you how to kill your pain.”

Black Lightning’s return hasn’t solved Freeland’s problems. Instead, they are getting more complicated. The One Hundred gang is operating in a more sophisticated fashion. They are moving a new additive drug called Green Lighting, and the operation behind it is beyond the scope of the One Hundred. We can probably credit this new operation to Lady Eve and whatever group she belongs too. That group is upset with Tobias for not killing Black Lightning nine years ago. Tobias has to step up his game to kill Black Lightning and he brings in his sister to help. Tori is up to the challenge and formulates the plan to use Khalil to turn the community against Black Lightning. With Khalil being paralyzed and his dreams of track stardom and leaving the community gone, he will be susceptible to Tobias schemes. Anissa takes her new powers on a test drive and finds out that beating up bad guys isn’t as she thought it would be. With her strength, she can easily kill them, so she has to learn how to handle it. It is also mentally tough to see the damage she can inflict on others. Anissa is powerful and Gambi might be on to her. She could use her father as a mentor in the superhero game.

Four episodes in and Black Lightning is still going strong. Even though much of this episode is setup for the rest of the season, the episode was good on its own. The action was strong throughout, and in this episode, they didn’t wait until the last scene to have it. The relationships between all of the players remain interesting. Even though we lost Lala and Will in the second episode, the show has done a good job in bringing in even better villains like Lady Eve and Tori. These women are not to be messed with. It is smart how the show has a superhero origin story with Anissa, but also has an equally interesting story of a seasoned superhero in Black Lightning. They have given us two treats in one.

The music is still strong and naturally fits with the story. I like their use of Godholly with the Black Lightning theme song and other songs he contributes. I couldn’t find a video for Green Light. Three other songs I really liked were Golden by Kara Marni. It played while Anissa drove and saw two of her students attempting to buy drugs from the dealer Anissa later destroyed. The second is Stop Me from Trapo. It played when Black Lightning took out Two-Bit’s boys. The third was Flex by Ingrid. It played when Tori was driving to her brother’s house. It really gives you an idea who Tori is.

Grade: B+

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Senior Contributor

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Senior Contributor

A fan, enthusiast, and appreciator of sci-fi, comic books, and fantasy film and TV. kbeartv61@nayahscifi.com
Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Senior Contributor

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