Black Lightning: Three Simple Rules

Black Lightning | Season 2 | Episode 15 : “The Alpha”
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For a quick read, go to Review. For a complete summary, go to Recap.

KBear Recap [Read  time: 5-7 min]

“It proves Freeland is a dangerous place for young people with powers.” Dr. Lynn Pierce

The local news broadcasts an exchange between the police and a young black male meta called Cape Guy (J. Ayers). He is dressed in a superhero costume that looks like it was bought from the budget bin in a dollar store. He is causing a magnetic storm around himself. Cape Guy: “Hey! Hey! Hey! I’m on y’alls side! Don’t shoot! Please don’t shoot!” Of course the police shoot him immediately.

Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) is seated at the dinner table with his wife Lynn (Christine Adams) and his youngest daughter Jennifer (China Anne McClain). They are waiting for his eldest Anissa/Thunder (Nafessa Williams). When she arrives, Jefferson has something he wants to discuss with them. Jefferson: “I know you were just eager to jump into the fight. And I know that you are eager to take revenge. And everything in my fatherly body wants to tell both of you to stay out of it, but your mother has helped me see that I need to father in a different way.” Jennifer: “Go Mom!” Lynn: “Your father wants to protect you. It’s a good thing.”  Jefferson: “But I need to be able to trust you. Okay, I need to know that we’re all rowing in the same direction. So, I’ve come up with a code. Three rules that we will follow. Rule Number #1: We don’t tell anybody who we are.”  Anissa: “Hmmm… well, that’s for you two blabbermouths. I’m all good with that.” Jefferson: “Rule Number #2: You always have back-up.”  Anissa: “Gambi counts?”  Jefferson: “Gambi counts. Your mother and her best friend, the “shotgun,” counts.”  [They all laugh] Jefferson: Even though going in alone, doing anything power-related, okay? Anissa: “Okay.”  Jefferson: “Rule Number #3: We don’t kill. Ever.” This doesn’t go over well with the girls. Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III) needs to pay for what he’s done. Jefferson understands how they feel, but if they go against his wishes he’ll have Peter Gambi (James Remar) lock up their suits. Anissa reminds him that she is a grown woman. Jefferson: “I can’t…I can’t keep you from wearing a hoodie, and going out stealing money from gangsters, but I can keep you from pretending that the suit gives you license to make bad choices.” Anissa and Jennifer finally reluctantly agree to his terms. Anissa spills some wine on her blouse and goes upstairs to borrow one of Jennifer’s. Unbeknownst to her, Agent Percy Odell (Bill Duke) is watching her. At least he has the decency to not watch her as she takes off her blouse.

Black Lightning Cosplay

 

Tobias, Dr. Helga Jace (Jennifer Riker) and Giselle Cutter (Kearran Giovanni) are waking up the other members of the Masters of Disaster (M.O.D.). We’ve already met Marcus Bishop/Shakedown (Hosea Chanchez). The other three sleeping beauties are Darryl Robinson (Derrick Lewis), a.k.a. Coldsnap, [Powers: Cryokinesis]; Joe (Esteban Cueto), a.k.a. Heatstroke, [Powers: Pyrokinesis]; Rebecca Jones (Brooke Ence), a.k.a. New Wave, [Powers: Water-body conversion and Hydrokinesis]. They use the watches Dr. Jace developed to control them. Tobias tells the M.O.D. that he’s their new boss and he is going to tell them what he wants.

Cape Guy was a war veteran who suffered from PTSD. A young woman (Kiah Alexandria Clingman) who knew him from the neighborhood says he wasn’t a harm to anyone, and the cops are using a shoot first ask questions later strategy. Lynn watches this newscast in her lab when Agent Odell walks in. Lynn observes to Odell that, “It proves Freeland is a dangerous place for young people with powers.” She asks him if the ASA has any clues on where the stolen pod kids are. He tells her the trial is cold. Odell asks how long the pod kids can survive without treatment. Lynn says they were stabile before they were taken, depending on how the move affected them and how the kidnapers are treating them, they could be dead. Odell thinks that would be a shame.

 

Tobias asks Dr. Jace how his metas are doing. She says that Lynn took great care of them. He asks when they can be awaken. Jace estimates one to two weeks. Tobias: “My army of metas will make me richer and more powerful than I ever dreamed. And I plan to cram my victory down the throats of everyone who tried to stand in my way.” As he walks away Dr. Jace says softly, “Spoken like a true gentleman.”

In the Black Lightning sanctum, Gambi tells Jeff about Todd Green possibly being involved in the theft of the pod kids. He has evidence that associates him with Tobias. So now both Jefferson and Gambi think that Tobias might have stolen them. Jefferson asks Gambi how they can find them. Gambi tells him that he detected low level radiation from the pods, he can’t use satellites to track them, but he has put Geiger counters around the city to triangulate their location. Jennifer asks if she is putting her suit on right, she’s not. As she walks away, Jefferson tells Gambi he is worried about his daughters, Gambi assures him that he and Lynn are doing a good job.

Lazarus (Michael Wright), the mad scientist who keeps resurrecting Lala (William Catlett) is stirring a dead possum in his resurrection liquids for practice. Lala tells him that he thought Jefferson killed his friend Earl, but it turned out he did. Lala: “There’s nothing but pain for me in this life.” They begin talking about all the horrible things Tobias has done to them. Lady Eve had brought Lazarus here, and he loved her. Lazarus: “Where Tobias goes, heartache is sure to follow.” Lala: “That’s why I was thinking… that maybe he’s better off dead.” Lazarus: “I wholeheartedly agree.”

Jennifer is in the bubble again, but this time everything goes well. Jefferson tells Gambi, “When she was a baby, I never imagined we’d end up here.”  Jennifer is excited and leaves with Gambi to look at her suit. Jefferson watches her and starts thinking back when she was a little girl. When Jennifer gets back she can tell that he’s been having sappy thoughts about her. To change the subject he takes her to lunch.

“Those with the greatest power should not be able to decide who lives and who dies. No, that is a path that can only lead to darkness.” Jefferson Pierce

When they get to lunch, Jennifer has a question, “Do you ever get a static problem?”  Jefferson: “You mean like with the electricity?” Jennifer: “Mhmm.”  Jefferson: “No.”  Jennifer: “Good! I don’t want the powers to mess up my hair.” They both laugh. Jefferson gets down to business. Because they have powers it’s even more important that they don’t take it upon themselves to decide who lives or dies. The Bible tells them they don’t have a right to judge. Jennifer counters with the Old Testament’s ‘an eye for an eye’. Jefferson points out this philosophy predates the Hammurabi’s Code, which tried to temper people from using violence for revenge. Jefferson: “Those with the greatest power should not be able to decide who lives and who dies. No, that is a path that can only lead to darkness.” Jennifer thinks that Tobias is a special case and that the world would be better off without him. Jefferson hasn’t gotten her to buy in to his way of thinking.

Anissa goes to the sanctum to talk to Gambi. She tells him that her search for Grace is raising more questions than answers. Anissa tell him about the half-eaten horse she found in the apartment with the elderly Asian man who nearly kicked her butt. Gambi wasn’t expecting to hear any of that. She also tells him how the man’s eyes changed. This causes Gambi to figure out that maybe the old man is a shapeshifter. Both don’t know how Grace is involved in this. Gambi offers her some advice, “Sweetheart, if she loves you the way you say you love her, she will find her way back to you.”

Lynn is with Wendy (Madison Bailey) in the lab. Wendy is acting apprehensive. Lynn: “Are you nervous? About going back into Freeland?” Wendy: It’s been 30 years. Everything I knew is gone. I’m not nervous, I’m just sad, I guess it feels lonely.” Lynn tells her that she’ll be meeting with Perenna who will help her gain control over her powers. Lynn offers Wendy more encouragement telling her she can be anything she wants. Wendy knows that Lynn doesn’t like Agent Odell and she thanks her for sticking around anyway.

Lazarus gives Lala a gun. He knows how much everyone likes having one. Lazarus: “No gun is more powerful than you are. You see, your real weapon, Latavious, is that while you can die, you can always be brought back to life again.” Being brought back is painful for Lala, he only wants peace. Lazarus tells him he’ll feel better after he kills Tobias.

Tobias orders Bishop to train with Heatstroke. Bishop objects, he’s taken an entire village out by himself. As much as Tobias hates Black Lightning and Thunder, he’s sure they would wipe the floor with Bishop. He threatens to kill Bishop, he charges Tobias but before he can get to him, Cutter slices his neck. She asks Dr. Jace to suture his neck. Tobias objects to her slicing Bishop’s neck since he’s worth millions to him. Cutter tells him she did it to protect him. She wipes Bishop’s blood off his check and they kiss passionately. Jace and Joe watch them. Cutter and Tobias saunter off together.

Lynn calls Jennifer while Jennifer’s watching another newscast about Cape Guy. She asks Jennifer to talk to Wendy since she knows what Wendy is going through. Agent Odell is listening to their conversation. Jennifer: “From one weirdo to another.” Lynn: “You’re not a weirdo. You’re the same wonderful, sensitive, smart loving person you’ve always been.” Jennifer wonders how she can talk to her without violating Jefferson’s rule about not letting anyone know who they are. Lynn thinks they can find a way to get around it. Jennifer: “Oh mom, thanks for not saying I’m not a weirdo. I know that’s what you think, but it’s still really nice to hear.” Lynn tells Jennifer she loves her and Jennifer responds to Lynn in kind while that creep Odell listens to this lovely private moment.

Tobias tries to think which of his M.O.D. members he should send out to cause some trouble. Bishop is out since he’s recovering from his neck wound. Cutter suggests Joe and Dr. Jace agrees because his powers would look good on camera. Meanwhile Agent Odell walks into the lab with two of his look-a-like agents to get Wendy for more training. Lynn objects because the last time they ‘trained’ her, they nearly killed Wendy. Odell tells Lynn how important Wendy could be for this country but Lynn doesn’t care. Lynn: “No! She is gonna have therapy, okay? She’s gonna finish high school. She’s gonna learn how to balance a check book or do pottery or whatever she wants to do. And then, only then, can she become one of your soldiers.” Odell says okay and leaves with his men. [He’s just bidding his time]

“Find her. Screw the rules, Anissa! Find her and tell her who you are.” Jennifer Pierce

Anissa and Jennifer are on the ledge outside Jennifer’s room. They are discussing Grace and after Anissa tells her what happened, Jennifer asks her if she was high. Anissa tells Jennifer “that’s your thing.” While Jennifer’s talking Anissa remembers the time in the park when Grace’s eye colors changed and then she thinks about the elderly Asian man’s eye color changing. She realizes that Grace was the old man, she’s a shapeshifter. Anissa tells Jennifer she’s got to go, Jennifer stops her because she tells Anissa everything and she wants to know what’s up. Anissa: “Look, Gambi said something about a shapeshifter; someone who could be a danger to Grace. Jenn, I think the shapeshifter WAS Grace. Grace is a Meta, and she ran because she thought I would reject her. If I’d just told her who I was then…”  Jennifer: “Find her. Screw the rules, Anissa! Find her and tell her who you are.”

Tobias sent Joe out to cause damage so that he can broadcast his attack on the dark web to potential buyers for his meta-human weapons business. Gambi intercepts the broadcast and sends Joe’s location to Black Lightning. Joe has gone to a mall opening ceremony that Councilman Kwame Parker (Eric C. Lynch) is attending. Joe sets the councilman and his security team on fire. Jefferson catches up to Joe who is heating some gas pipes. It is causing house fires in West Freeland, where the Pierce’s live. He contacts Gambi and asks him to get Jennifer and bring her to the sanctum. He fights Joe in a cool showdown between electricity and fire. Black Lightning uses his lightning to create a shield against the fire. Thunder shows up on a motorcycle and kicks Joe. Dr. Jace convinces a reluctant Tobias to call Joe back before Black Lightning and Thunder damage their property. Black Lightning and Thunder don’t follow him so that they can cool down the pipes. Gambi gets a reading from his Geiger counters and pinpoints Tobias’s location. He calls Black Lightning to give him the location, he’ll go over there to keep an eye on Tobias until they get there. Jennifer overhears the conversation and once Gambi leaves, she gets the address.

“Death is knocking but ain’t nobody home. I can’t really die, sweetheart. How about you?” Lala

Dr. Jace thanks Tobias for meeting with her in private. Dr. Jace: “I think that Cutter is a little too possessive. A long time ago, I was too proud to retreat and I ended up indentured to a rogue nation and then the worse people in the US government. I lost everything because I didn’t have the good sense to stop.”  “Tobias: That sucks for you.” Dr. Jace: “I’m smarter than you are. It’s not an insult, it’s a fact. I’m smarter than virtually everyone I met. It’s annoying, but I’ve learned to live with it. What I lack is your genius for survival! I think we’d make a great team. I can’t kill people with a whisk, but my big brain can solve a whole lot of problems.”  Tobias: “So far, I’m not impressed. And I actually appreciate Cutter’s possessiveness.” He walks away. Jefferson and Anissa opened up the gas line to relieve the pressure. Cutter is in another room when Lala walks in. She throws a knife in his chest, it hurts him but he still walks towards her. She throws a few more knifes in his chest but he painfully pulls them out. Lala: “Death is knocking but ain’t nobody home. I can’t really die, sweetheart. How about you?” Cutter makes a run for it while Lala is shooting at her. Tobias is mad about Black Lightning beating Joe, he punches a pod, damaging it and possibly killing the pod kid in it. Dr. Jace: “For a guy so focused on getting rich, you are very cavalier with your assets.” Tobias: “Only thing worse than a loud-mouthed Negro is a loud-mouthed white woman. Todd would still be with us if he’d kept his mouth shut.” Cutter runs in and tells them that someone is there to kill Tobias, she couldn’t kill him; she advises that they leave.

Lynn is in the lab watching the fires on TV. Odell informs her that her neighborhood is safe. He also tells her that Freeland is lucky to have Black Lightning and Thunder. Lynn knows that is strange for him to say that. Gambi has eyes on Tobias when he looks up in the sky and sees Jennifer in her suit flying above. He calls Jefferson and tells him that Jennifer just arrived and her suit isn’t ready. Gambi wraps his viscoelastic gloves and leaves the van, while Jefferson heads to their location. Tobias looks up and sees Jennifer. Tobias: “What the hell is that?” Cutter: “Don’t know, don’t care.” As they get in the car and speed away, Jennifer lands and screams at them, “You can’t get away. I will find you, and I’ll… I’ll kill…” Her suit overheats and she passes out.

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

The police shoot down a young black meta called Cape Guy. That’s a recurring thread throughout the episode. The Pierce family gathers for dinner, where Jefferson tells his daughters that they can go superheroing with him, but they have to follow three rules. Rule #1, don’t tell anyone who they; Rule #2, always have backup; Rule #3, no killing, ever. Anissa and Jennifer totally disagree with Rule 3, there is a certain Tobias Whale to take care of. Jefferson makes them promise, but I believe they had their fingers crossed when they agreed. Agent Odell is still conducting his surveillance of the Pierce family, and it appears he’s doing it alone. Tobias, Dr. Jace and Cutter wake up the other members of the Masters of Disaster (M.O.D.). The other three members are Coldsnap [Powers: Cryokinesis]; Heatstroke [Powers: Pyrokinesis]; New Wave [Powers: Water-body conversion and Hydrokinesis]. Lala and Lazarus plan on killing Tobias because of the things he’s done to both of them. Lynn is still looking out for Wendy and trying to prevent Odell from making her into a soldier. Anissa finally figures out that Grace is a shapeshifter. Tobias and Cutter are an item, and Dr. Jace is against it. [Dr. Jace and I agree on something] Tobias sends Joe, a.k.a. Heatstroke to set some fires so that Tobias can film the destruction and send it over the dark web to potential meta-soldiers buyers. Jefferson and Joe engage in a cool fight scene using electricity and fire. Gambi zeroes in on Tobias’ location and sends it to Jefferson. Unfortunately Jennifer overhears it and once Gambi leaves the sanctum, she gets the information from his computer. She puts on her suit that isn’t ready yet and flies over there to kill Tobias. Of course the suit fritzes out and she passes out. She shouldn’t feel bad, Lala fails too. Lynn and Jefferson should really think about sending her to a boarding school, overseas. Her quest for vengeance is becoming embarrassing.

This is the first part of a two part season finale. In the past Jefferson did not want his daughters involved in the superhero life, but he and Lynn have realized that ship has sailed. Jefferson is still trying to control his daughters involvement in it, but neither one is listening to him. Anissa is an adult and has her own priorities, while Jennifer is a teen who is heartbroken over the death of her first love, and is in this only for revenge. They both eventually either ignore or plan on ignoring Jefferson’s rules. Anissa plans on telling Grace who she is. Jennifer goes off on her own to try to kill Tobias again. Jennifer is becoming the coyote to Tobias’ roadrunner, she keeps trying to kill him and gets an anvil dropped on her head every time. I hope she realizes that she should be trying to achieve justice for Khalil instead of revenge for herself. Odell might just turn out to be the really big bad of this series. He’s aiming for something similar to Tobias, instead of selling the pod kids to be soldiers for others, he wants to turn the pod kids into soldiers for the good old USA, or really for the ASA. He knows about the Pierces and we’ll eventually see what his plans are for them. [Unless he dies in the next episode, then never mind.] The episode used the tale of the Cape Guy to show the police and the communities fear and distrust of the metas. Having the M.O.D. create havoc on Freeland won’t help. We’ll see where the storylines are leading in the season finale. It was a good episode with one good action scene that should set up the finale.  

This episode might have the show’s best song list. It is probably the longest. The episode opened with the Cape Guy and the police while The Isley Brothers hit Fight the Power played.  

At the Pierce family dinner, Just Can’t Win by Lee Fields and the Expressions was in the background.  

In Tobias’ lair, he, Jace, and Cutter wake up the rest of the M.O.D. while Edge by David McCallum plays. David McCallum is the actor who played Illya Kuryakin in the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and he currently plays Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on NCIS. I grew up watching Man from U.N.C.L.E. so mucho respect to David McCallum for his acting and musical talents.  

Lala and Lazarus discuss his resurrection process in Lazarus’ lab during Walk Right Up to the Sun by the Delfonics.  

During the flashback scene when Jefferson thinks about Jennifer when she was younger, George Benson’s recording of Here Comes the Sun plays.  

Argentina by Thelonious Monk and the Clark Terry Quartet plays while Anissa talks to Gambi about Grace.  

Lazarus gives Lala a gun and Hung Up on My Baby by Isaac Hayes plays.  

Jennifer listens to Prized Possession by Azarelle while she talks to Lynn on the phone about Wendy.  

During Anissa and Jennifer’s discussion about her strange encounter looking for Grace, and figuring out Grace is a shapeshifter, Stranger by Dijon plays.  

Of course during the Heatstroke – Black Lighting fight, Fire by the Ohio Players plays.  

When Jennifer flies in to try to kill Tobias, the Bar-Kays song Shine plays her to her failure.

Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief

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

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