Black Lightning: Trust Issues

Title: Black Lightning Season 1 Episode 9: “The Book of “Little Black Lies”
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction, Superhero
Platform: TV – CW
Director: Tawnia McKiernan
Writer: Keli Goff
Rating: TV-14
Release: March 20, 2018
Cast: Cress Williams, Nafessa Williams, China Anne McClain, Christine Adams
Feature image: Source


“If I end up dead in some alley somewhere and they say I was dirty; make sure my wife and my family know the truth.” Inspector Bill Henderson – Black Lightning

Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) is hitting a punching bag while thinking about what Peter Gambi (James Remar) told him in the last episode. He becomes so upset about Gambi’s betrayal that he knocks the punching bag off its chain across the room. He calls Inspector Bill Henderson (Damon Gupton) to complain about Henderson passing on his tip about the weapon and getting the evidence destroyed. Henderson: “You know it’s so easy for someone like you. No rules, no one to answer to.” Black Lightning: “Yeah well…it ain’t always easy.” Henderson admits his mistake, agrees that Black Lightning is innocent of killing Lady Eve and promises to take some time off work to assist Black Lightning in the investigation. In a serious moment he asks Black Lightning: “Just do me one favor.” Black Lightning: “What’s that?” Henderson: “If I end up dead in some alley somewhere and they say I was dirty; make sure my wife and my family know the truth.” Black Lightning: “I’m not going to let that happen.”

Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain) is lying in bed depressed over the incident with her phone. Her sister Anissa/Thunder (Nafessa Williams) checks to see how she is doing. Jennifer is trying to convince herself that what happened with the phone didn’t happen. She is wondering if maybe she is going insane. Anissa assures her that she isn’t. She tells Jennifer that they have powers; she is Thunder. Anissa: “Listen we’re just like dad.” Jennifer: “Dad?” Anissa: “Yes he has powers to. He’s Black Lightning.” Jennifer tells Anissa to quit messing with her and leave her alone. To prove that she is telling the truth, Anissa picks up Jennifer’s bed with a freaked-out Jennifer in it. When Anissa lets the bed down, Jennifer jumps out of bed and runs downstairs to her father. Jennifer: “She just lifted up my bed and said that you’re Black Lightning.” When Jefferson doesn’t respond, Jennifer goes from freaked out to angry. Jennifer: “Oh my God. Oh my God.” Jefferson: “Honey let me explain.” Jennifer: “Explain to me how you been lying to me my whole life. You said I could trust you.” Jefferson: “And you can.” Jennifer: “Is that supposed to be a joke. How can I believe anything you say?” Jennifer walks away and Jefferson looks at Anissa and asks in exasperation “Really?” Anissa goes back upstairs.

Lynn Pierce (Christine Adams) gets home and joins Jefferson in chastising Anissa for telling Jennifer without consulting them first. It was disrespectful of her; it was their job as her parents to do it. Anissa apologizes but she felt she owed it to Jennifer to come clean. Lynn and Jefferson discuss the mistakes they have made.  Jefferson begins talking about his need to stop Green Light and the people behind it. Anissa joins the discussion; she asks if Uncle Gambi will be involved. Jefferson tells her that they can’t trust Gambi. He plans to do this alone but Anissa reminds both her parents that she’ll do this behind their back if she has to. Jefferson decides that they will both check on court records of the Tobias Whale bribery case.

“I’m sorry. I’m not Vixen. Or Supergirl. Just mom.” Lynn Pierce – Black Lightning

Lynn goes up to Jennifer’s room to check on her. She tells her she understands how she feels. Jennifer: “Well not unless you came in here to tell me you’re Vixen. You didn’t, right?” Lynn: “Busted! I’m kidding.” Jennifer: “That’s not funny.” Lynn: “I’m sorry. I’m not Vixen. Or Supergirl. Just mom.” She promises her daughter that she is there when she wants to talk.

“For the record, I voted for you both times.” Teddy Evans – Black Lightning

At the courthouse Anissa and Jefferson, go through the court files. They spot BendsCORP, a firm that tried to bribe Alvin to kill his story. Meanwhile in a garage, Gambi sneaks up on an old comrade and injects him with Black Mamba venom to get information on the weapon that killed Lady Eve. Once he gives him the name of the person who supplied it, he gives the man the antidote. Jefferson and Anissa go to the lawyer’s office, Teddy Evans (Charles Green) who represents BendsCORP, disguised in Barak and Michelle Obama Halloween masks.  Anissa grabs his phone and tells him the info they already have on him and that she will hack his password. She indicates that she has all night. Jefferson: “But here’s the thing…She’s patient. I ain’t… [Producing a ball of electricity] I’m trying to decide, rare, medium-rare, or well done.” Teddy becomes very cooperative. After giving the duo all the information, he has, he concludes, “For the record, I voted for you both times.”

Jennifer is on the couch looking at something on her laptop. Anissa walks over to check on her again. They begin to talk about discovering their superpowers. Anissa is of course happy about them. She was freaked at first like Jennifer, but she quickly saw them as a blessing. Jennifer sees it more as a curse; she just wants to be normal. She’s upset that they didn’t have a choice in gaining these powers. Anissa asks her what she is watching on her laptop. Jennifer shows her a video of one of Thunder’s admirers. Thunder Fan (Derrick Haywood): “That ass…though right!” Anissa is insulted that all people can talk about is her ass.  Jennifer tells her that Thunder is more popular online than Black Lightning. Anissa is surprised and happy to hear it. Jennifer shows her a new fan page that appreciates Thunder for subverting the patriarchy by being a female hero. The sisters share a nice moment looking over the page.

Gambi is talking to the scrambled video feed of the person who sold the electric gun. As the arms dealer issues threats, Gambi slowly unscrambles the feed. He informs the arms dealer that unless he tells him whom he sold the weapons too, he will inform a nearby police cruiser about the illegal weapons he has in his home. The arms dealer gives him an address. Henderson is on an overpass taking pictures of Deputy Chief Cayman (Anthony Reynolds) receiving weapons powerful enough to kill Black Lightning. Gambi is crawling in a crawlspace over a lab. He lowers a miniature camera and sees a body in a glass tube. He has a flashback of spying on a young man with enhanced abilities make a spectacular dunk on the basketball court and contacting Martin Proctor (Gregg Henry) about him.

“Regardless of what you all may think of me, I will always care about you and your family and I would do anything to protect you.” Peter Gambi – Black Lightning

Anissa goes over to Gambi’s shop to see him at his request. She tells him she only came to find out for herself if they can trust him. He understands why Jefferson doesn’t trust him now. Gambi explains that he worked for some people who he now realizes were bad people. Gambi: “Regardless of what you all may think of me, I will always care about you and your family and I would do anything to protect you.” He tells her about what he saw in the lab and he needs Black Lightning to stop his old colleagues. He gives her something in a duffel bag. The duffel bag contains Thunder’s new outfit. After putting it on, she shows up to join her father outside the lab that produces Green Light. He knows that Gambi gave her the new outfit. She tells him that she knows that Gambi did wrong but that he cares about them. He is upset with Gambit much like Jennifer is mad with him from keeping the truth from her. Jefferson points out it isn’t that similar. He changes the subject to the two of them taking down this lab. If things go bad, he wants her to save herself. The people they are going after are above the law, when they take down the lab, it is a declaration of war against them. Thunder is ready to go to war. [I had to refrain from writing ‘ready to rumble’. It’s too easy.]

“I don’t want to save the world. I want to be normal. I want to go to prom, go to college, get married and have babies. Can I even have kids?” Jennifer Pierce – Black Lightning

Lynn says something to Jennifer and she walks right past her as if she wasn’t there. Lynn won’t tolerate Jennifer giving her attitude. It’s time to talk now. Lynn tries to explain the parents’ point of view.  Lynn: “Being a parent, we sometimes have to make decisions, and hope and pray that they are the right ones.” Jennifer doesn’t think they made the right decision. Lynn can’t argue with that but she continues, “Half of being a parent is protecting your kids so that they can remain kids.” Jennifer is upset they didn’t trust her, but Lynn points out they couldn’t tell her when she was little in fear she’d blab it out, and, as she got older, Jefferson had ceased being Black Lightning, so why bring it up. Jennifer asks why they didn’t warn her she could inherit Jefferson’s powers. Lynn tells her that since Jefferson didn’t inherit his, there was no reason for them to think that his kids would inherit them from him. We get to the crux of what is really bothering Jennifer. She is afraid having powers will keep her from having a relationship. She thinks Jefferson’s powers broke up him and Lynn, and Anissa’s powers broke her up from her girlfriend. “Mom, I’m not Anissa,” she laments. “I don’t want to save the world. I want to be normal. I want to go to prom, go to college, get married and have babies. [She thinks for a moment.] Can I even have kids?” When Lynn can’t confirm that she will be able to, she begins sobbing. Lynn holds her baby as she cries.

Black Lightning and Thunder are waiting for Martin Proctor to show up at the lab. He arrives at the lab and starts yelling at his people. Thunder and Black Lightning can’t hear him, but luckily, Anissa took lip reading, so she knows what he is saying. Jefferson is impressed and tells her she isn’t half-bad at this, but to keep her from getting the big head he tells her that he didn’t say she was good at this yet. Proctor wants the lab workers to move the Green Light from the lab. Black Lightning gets a call from Henderson. He tells Black Lightning about the dirty cops with the high-powered weapons, he is going to follow Cayman there, Jefferson tells him not to come but its Henderson’s duty to follow up. Black Lightning and Thunder go into the lab and start wreaking it. [Allowing the lab workers to get out safely.] The cops with the high-powered weapons are closing in. Proctor is with his lead scientist when Jefferson shows up. Proctor pulls a gun on the scientist to use as a hostage but Black Lightning laughs at him. A dirty cop prepares to shoot Black Lightning but Henderson shoots him. Proctor gets away in the confusion but Henderson arrests the scientist and takes him out of the lab. Jefferson sets the Green Light on fire. Thunder takes care of the other crooked cops but one nearly gets the drop on her, but Jefferson uses his lightning to lift him up and toss him away. The father and daughter crime-fighting duo slowly walk out of the lab as it explodes.

Jefferson is back home and he and Jennifer finally talk. He understands why she is upset with him. Jefferson promises to stop treating her like a little girl and be honest with her from now on. Jennifer tells him she and Lynn discussed this and she understands. She asks a relieved Jefferson if he’d like to watch a movie with her. He is glad to and Jennifer picks The Princess and the Frog.

Finally, everyone in the Pierce family is on the same page. Jennifer knows that her dad is Black Lightning and that she and Anissa have superpowers.  Jefferson and Lynn keeping this a secret from her makes Jennifer have trust issues with her parents. It’s understandable why they didn’t tell her before, but it still hurts her. Jennifer just wants to be normal and she is afraid her powers would make it impossible for her to have a relationship.  Of course, this new reality for Jennifer puts her in shock, but with her family’s love and support she begins to accept it. Jefferson continues to have his trust issues with Gambi. He isn’t as far along as Jennifer in regaining trust. Gambi’s lies are much worse than Jefferson’s omission of the truth with Jennifer; it will take much more for that trust to be reestablished.

The episode was mostly the Pierce family, along with some Henderson and Gambi tossed in. Henderson showed his true mettle this episode, in a police force with so many dirty cops, he stands alone as a beacon of integrity. One thing that I’m sure about Gambi is that he really cares about the Pierce family and will do what he can to protect them. That might be Gambi’s only good trait, but it is at least something to build on. The acting all around was outstanding. Special mention has to go to Damon Gupton for his touching statement about his family knowing that he isn’t a dirty cop. It packed a powerful punch. China Anne McClain was the highlight of the episode. She really explored and illustrated how unnerving it would be to discover you have superpowers. She is just an ordinary teenager who wants to have a normal life. Living up to the standards established by Jefferson and Lynn is tough enough, but now you have to add superpowers. She was able to express this pain and confusion without being bratty. What makes this show special is the relationships within the Pierce family. Their true superpower is the love they have for each other, and the chemistry the cast has with each other. The action was secondary this episode, but the final battle in the lab did not disappoint.

After the slight lull from last week’s episode, the music was back on point. Ashes by Iris Temple played while Anissa was trying to comfort a frightened Jennifer, and only scared her more. Lynn talks to Jennifer while Energy Flow by Kyle Dion plays. She nearly scares Jennifer to death when she lets her think for a second that she was Vixen. Godholly contributes a new song with Thunder. It played when Anissa tried on her new Thunder costume and joined her father. Finally, when Black Lightning, Thunder and Henderson destroy the lab, The Ghetto by Donny Hathaway plays. It was the musical highlight of the evening.

Grade: A-


















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