Black Lightning: It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye

Black Lightning | Season 2 | Episode 11 : “Prodigal Son”
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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]

“You were always there…I just couldn’t see you.” Khalil Payne

Reverend Jeremiah Holt (Clifton Powell) begins his sermon by mentioning that Khalil Payne (Jordan Calloway) is in a bad way at a local hospital and he needs their prayers. Rev. Holt heats up and says that Freeland is under siege. While he preaches, we check in with different members of the cast.  Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), Lynn (Christine Adams), Jennifer (China Anne McClain), and Khalil’s mother Nichelle (Yolanda T. Ross) rush to Khalil’s side. He is in a support bar face down, there is a long bandage that covers the area that Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III) snatched Khalil’s spinal implant from. This is too much for Jennifer to bear. Rev. Holt preaches on the threat from the 100 gang and the stray bullets killing our children.

Jefferson sits in Khalil’s room alone with him. Khalil struggles to speak. Khalil: “Mr. P. I need you to do something for me. I need Black Lightning to kill Tobias.” Jefferson: “I can’t do that.” Khalil promises to give him the info to take down Tobias’ operation and where to kill him. Jefferson: “I won’t do that. We have to let the judicial system handle Tobias.” Khalil: “The system. You mean the system that let Tobias getaway with shooting me and Rev. Holt? The same system that let him rip my spine out of my back? You mean the system that let him get away with murdering your father? Mr. P, is that the system that you’re talking about? Huh? You promise me, can you make him suffer like me?” Jefferson: “Yes… I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed me.” Khalil: “You were always there…I just couldn’t see you.”

Rev. Holt continues his sermon. Tobias is in his lair, injecting himself with a serum. [I imagine it’s the serum that keeps him looking young, gives him his strength or both.] Anissa (Nafessa Williams) is in her room looking at newspaper clippings of Tobias, she gets angrier every time she looks at his smug face. Jennifer goes out to the hospital parking lot to get some air and compose herself. She is leaning slightly against a car, when its owner spots her.  This racist white woman (Chelsea Hayes) who I will call Parking Lot Paula rudely speaks to Jennifer. Parking Lot Paula: “You’re trying to steal my car.”  Jennifer: “Ma’am, I wasn’t…” Parking Lot Paula pulls out her mobile and calls 911. Parking Lot Paula: “Hello, 911. Yes, I caught a woman breaking into my car. She’s African-American. She threatened me! She’s 5’6.” Jennifer’s eyes angrily glow and she strikes the car with lightning, causing the car to explode.  Parking Lot Paula: “Oh my god! What did you do?!”  Jennifer: “Me?”  Parking Lot Paula: “Yes!”  Jennifer: “Your car got hit by lightning. You gonna call the police on God?”  Jennifer walks away with a smirk on her face, but her hands are glowing. Later on, Jefferson overhears the woman telling the police her car was struck by lightning. Jefferson knows what’s up and leaves to find Jennifer. Her hands are still glowing and she can’t control it. Rev. Holt is wiping his brow with his handkerchief and winds up his sermon naming major figures in our never-ending fight for freedom. He spots a splotch on his handkerchief and he collapses. As the congregation rushes to him, a women heads towards the exit, the women sashaying out is Giselle Cutter (Kearran Giovanni). [The heathen looks hot in her church outfit.]

Jefferson rushes Jennifer into a cleaning supply room. He can’t siphon off enough of her energy. Her entire body is glowing now. He prepares to phone for help when he hears a knock at the door. It is Perenna (Erika Alexander). [How did she know Jennifer needed help?] She asks Jefferson to leave her and Jennifer alone. He is reluctant but Jennifer asks him to step out. Once he does, Perenna tells Jennifer they have some work to do. With Jefferson outside, Jennifer levitates while she meditates. Perenna guides Jennifer into pulling the energy back inside herself. Jennifer grabs her coat and hugs her relieved dad. Jefferson asks Perenna what she said to Jennifer. Perenna mysteriously says “only what Jennifer needed to hear”. [Jefferson looked a little annoyed. She just can’t give a straight answer.]

Tobias is looking at the newscast as it shows the community mourning for Rev. Holt. He doesn’t understand why they are mourning that clown. His new right hand man Todd Green (RJ Cyler) is looking at video from the ASA lab with the pod kids. He watches old footage of Lynn slapping Dr. Helga Jace (Jennifer Riker). Todd: “Ooh, oh, girl fight!” That catches Tobias’ attention and he looks to see. Tobias is surprised to see Dr. Jace. He hasn’t seen her in 30 years and she looks the same. He figures that she would know where the missing four super metas are.

Lynn offers her assistance to Khalil’s physician, Dr. Ashton Conley (Catherine Dyer). Lynn points out her work with enhanced people. Dr. Conley refuses because Lynn’s work is primarily experimental. She also mentions the pod kids who died on Lynn’s watch. Lynn offers some suggestions, but Dr. Conley shoots them down. The toxin in his blood keeps them from using anesthesia on Khalil, and they have never seen the type of work that was done on his spine in the United States or abroad, so they don’t know how to even begin to repair it.

“What the hell? You got any other dead people around here. Lady Eve? Joey Toledo? Jimmy Hoffa?”  Deputy Chief Bill Henderson

Deputy Chief Bill Henderson (Damon Gupton) joins Jefferson in the hospital cafeteria. He delivers the bad news that Rev. Holt just died from a heart attack in church. Jefferson thinks it is linked to Tobias wanting the clinic. Henderson doesn’t disagree, but they have no proof. Jefferson tells him that they have info from Khalil that they can use against Tobias. He mentions he knows where Tobias lives. Henderson says that he’ll need a warrant to search his place. He recounts the last time he arrested Tobias and how bad that turned out. Jefferson tells him they need to work together to get Tobias. Henderson asks isn’t that what they are doing now. Jefferson: “I have resources that can help you.” Henderson: “What does that mean?”

Jefferson takes Henderson to Gambi’s Tailor shop. He apologizes for keeping Henderson in the dark before about him being Black Lightning, but he doesn’t want to keep anymore secrets from him. They enter the shop and go through a secret passage. Henderson: “Oh hell no, really. Oh Jesus!”  The two men enter the Black Lightning team’s sanctum. Henderson is shocked to see Peter Gambi (James Remar) alive. Henderson: “What the hell? You got any other dead people around here. Lady Eve? Joey Toledo? Jimmy Hoffa?”  Gambi explains that he had to fake his death because someone is trying to kill him. He asked Jefferson to keep it a secret, he still doesn’t know who tried to have him killed. Henderson asks if Gambi is even a tailor, Gambi assures him he is, he can just do more than that. They show Henderson some of their cool tech, and Gambi gives Henderson a report that the police don’t even have yet that Rev. Holt was poisoned. Jefferson says that they can’t try to pin just one murder on Tobias, he’ll always find a way to beat it. They need to build a case on his ongoing criminal enterprise. Henderson catches on, that way they can help the Feds build a Rico case against him. Seeing all their cool gadgets, Henderson complains about the cheap cellphone Black Lightning gave him to call him. After checking to see if they have anything good to eat, Bill Henderson officially joins team Black Lightning. [Yea!!]

Jennifer is alone in Khalil’s room and she can see the electrical impulses fading in his body. She leaves the room and runs into Lynn. She tells her mother she can see inside people. Lynn is surprised to hear this, Jennifer tells her she’s discovered this power only recently. She tells Lynn she can see the electrical synapses in Khalil dimming. Jennifer: “I can see him dying. I can feel him dying.” She asks Lynn that since she can control electricity, does Lynn think she can jumpstart his synapses like a car. Lynn doubts it, as she points out, the human body doesn’t work like a car. Jennifer comes up with another idea. Jennifer: “Mom, the pods! We could put Khalil in a pod and in hibernation until we can figure out how to help him. Think about it, those vaccine kids, they survived in pods for over 30 years, we could do the same thing with Khalil.”  Lynn: “He’s enhanced; he’s not a metahuman. I couldn’t survive in one of those pods. I’m not sure he could either.”  Jennifer: “Maybe not, but we have to try?” Lynn still isn’t sure, but she’ll give it a try. Anissa is sitting in the waiting room when Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) walks in with a bag of burgers and fries. Anissa is surprised to see her. Grace tells her she knows what it’s like to wait at the hospital. The burgers and fries might help. She conveys to Anissa how sorry she is for their family to have to go through this. Grace gently kisses Anissa’s forehead. The two women dig into the food.

Tobias is waterboarding one of his henchmen about a payment. Speaking to the portrait of his late sister, “Damn! They don’t make these shiftless Negroes like they used to. A little bit of discipline and they fall apart.” When he tosses the man across the room, he tells Cutter, who just entered the room, to get rid of the body. She tells him he didn’t hire her to dispose bodies. He tells her he is enlarging her duties. Tobias apologizes to Cutter for the way he ended things with her in the past. She tells him it helped her find her true calling. He’s glad, he still orders her to get rid of the body.

Lynn walks back into the hospital with some of her ASA staff. She informs Dr. Conley she plans to run some test on Khalil to see if they can put him in stasis.  Dr. Conley objects but Lynn tells her she’s gotten Khalil mother’s permission. If Conley interferes and Khalil dies, Nichelle will sue the hospital, and then use that settlement to sue Conley until she is penniless. Dr. Conley quickly backs down.

Henderson enters Tobias lair to question him about Khalil. Tobias puts on his good citizen routine, and talks about how he tried to mentor the boy, but when he attacked the school he had to cut him loose. He heard Khalil robbed the 100 gang and what has happened to him is probably their retaliation. Henderson isn’t actually there to question Tobias, he has a miniature scanning device attached to his tie and he is scanning Tobias’ lair. Gambi is giving him instructions on comms, when he comes upon a hidden safe, Gambi has him stand still for a few minutes so he can scan it further. Tobias is telling Henderson if he doesn’t have a warrant he’d like him to leave and he promises to hold another press conference if he tries to arrest him. Once Gambi’s through, he tells Henderson he can leave. Henderson: “I’ll be seeing you again.”  Tobias [laughing]: “Aww, don’t go away mad, Deputy Chief. Just go away!”

“Damn, I guess orange is the new black. Long time no see.” Tobias Whale

Dr. Jace is sitting in her cell reading a book. Todd walks in and bribes her guard.  Dr. Jace asks who he is. Todd: “I’m the person getting you a one-night ‘get out of jail free’ card.” He informs her he works for Tobias. She asks, “Tobias?” Todd asks her how many people named Tobias she knows. She points out she has an ankle device. Todd uses a gadget to disable it. He asks her to pretend like she is reading while he makes a hologram of her. He turns on the hologram and they leave. The two show up at Tobias’. Tobias: “Damn, I guess orange is the new black. Long time no see.”  Dr. Jace: “And yet we both look the same.”  Tobias: “Indeed.”  Dr. Jace: “You never thanked me for creating the anti-aging serum that’s kept us both so young.”  Tobias: “True dat. Maybe that’s because when you gave me this serum, you didn’t know it would keep me from aging or kill me. The day I thank a crazy scientist for experimenting on my ass is the day I die.”  He asks her what she has been up to. Dr. Jace: “I was the architect of the original vaccine program in Freeland. When it ended I went to Markovia to create a Meta program for them.”  The ASA got her out of Markovia to stop their Meta program, but she got in trouble experimenting on kids in America again. She was thrown in jail, but the ASA got her out to work on the pod kids. She informs Tobias she knows where the four super metas are located.

Grace and Anissa are sitting in the waiting room together. Jennifer is sitting with Khalil. He painfully gasps, “J. I’m dying. I can feel it…it’s okay.” Gambi is looking at the scan Henderson took, he tells Jefferson the briefcase isn’t in it. Jefferson figures Tobias knows he is being watched, so he’s moved it. Lynn calls him and tells him he needs to get back to the hospital immediately. Jennifer tells her mother they need to put him in a pod now. Lynn: “The toxins in Khalil’s body is stopping us from putting him under. If we can’t put him under, we can’t put him in a pod. I’m sorry. We can’t save him.”  Jefferson: “Jennifer, sweetheart…you should go and tell Khalil anything that you need to tell him…while you still can.”

Khalil and Jennifer are at Garfield High for the prom. Khalil realizes something is wrong and asks if he is dead. Jennifer tells him he isn’t yet, but he doesn’t have much time. They are in her safe space. She just wanted to spend a little more time with him before he is gone. Khalil tells her he loves her, and she tells him she loves him. They kiss and hug and then Khalil disappears. Jennifer is back in the hospital room with her family and Nichelle. Khalil dies as his loved ones look on.

Elsewhere, Tobias is with his ‘loved ones’, Dr. Jace, Cutter, and Todd. Tobias uses a sledgehammer to break through a wall. They have found the four missing super metas. Tobias looks like he is on top of the world. Time for someone to bring him crashing down.

A promo for next week’s episode

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

Khalil is in the hospital in bad shape. There isn’t much anyone can do for him. Rev. Holt tells the church to pray for Khalil, but at the end of his sermon, Rev. Holt collapses and dies. Cutter poisoned his handkerchief. The entire Pierce family isn’t taking Khalil’s eminent death well. Khalil asks Black Lightning to kill Tobias, Jefferson says he can’t do it, they have to let the justice system handle him. Khalil points out how useless the system is in dealing with Tobias. This spurs Jefferson to take Henderson to his sanctum so the two can work together to build a case against Tobias for the Feds to file a Rico case against him. Henderson is impressed with the cool gadgets Black Lightning has and is shocked that Gambi is alive. Jennifer convinces Lynn to try to put Khalil in a pod to hibernate him until they come up with a way to save him. After tests, Lynn has to inform Jennifer the toxins in his body won’t allow them to do it. Anissa doesn’t have much to do except be supportive. Grace stops by the hospital to support Anissa. They seem like a couple now. Jennifer is distraught and desperate. She tries to come up with ways to save Khalil, but none of them will work. She tries to get a moment’s peace outside in the hospital parking lot, but a racist white lady I’ve lovingly named Parking Lot Paula accuses Jennifer of trying to steal her car. While she is calling the cops, Jennifer strikes her car with lightning and blows it up. I guess Parking Lot Paula is going to have to catch the bus home. Perenna shows up to help Jennifer calm down and regain control of her powers. Finally Jennifer is convinced that Khalil is going to die and she’ll have to say her final goodbyes. Using her psychic safe space, she takes Khalil to the prom they never got to attend and they say their final goodbyes.

While all this heartbreak is going on, the f#©*ing devil himself, Tobias Whale is having a blast. He’s killed his main enemy Rev. Holt, he knows Khalil is dying and suffering, and he finds out Dr. Jace, the woman who experimented the anti-aging serum on him is in jail. She was the architect of the vaccine program 30 years ago, so he figures she might know where the missing four super metas are. He has his top lieutenant Todd break her out of custody and they find the metas. Tobias has everything he wants. What he doesn’t know is that he has some pissed off superheroes wanting to take him down.

This was an appropriately somber episode. Not one, but two fan favorites died in this episode, Rev. Holt and Khalil. The Rev. Holt death completely blindsided me. Tobias has been gunning for him since the beginning of the first season, but it didn’t occur to me he would succeed. It just goes to show how ruthless and powerful he is now. He now has competent people who can get things done for him. I wasn’t surprised Khalil died, I just didn’t think he would. I assumed Lynn would find some type of scientific way to save him, or Jennifer could recharge him like a car battery. To the show’s credit, they didn’t do any of that. The showrunners have shown now that anyone, excluding Black Lightning, Thunder, and the soon to be Lightning can die in this universe. That includes Henderson, Gambi, and maybe even Lynn. It gives the show real stakes, and makes you nervous for the good guys. Tobias is someone you love to hate, and his comeuppance from Black Lightning will be sweet. Tobias is a great character, but I wonder how long he can be on the show before it gets ridiculous to have him on? Once he figures out who Black Lightning is, he’s a goner. Sad to see Jordan Calloway and Clifton Powell leave the show. I really grew to enjoy Mr. Calloway’s performance and I look forward to seeing him in other projects. Rev. Holt was one of my favorite characters on the show and Mr. Powell really brought him to life. He did a great job of reminding me of black preachers I grew up on and see now.  There weren’t any action pieces, we didn’t see Black Lightning or Thunder even once. I enjoyed this episode a great deal, but I’ll be glad to get back to the action. Everything is in place for this season to end with a bang. Let the countdown begin.

There weren’t a lot of musical pieces in this episode. There were the usual jazz pieces for Tobias. The show’s giving jazz a bad name. Let him listen to some country music for a while. The Reverend Al Green opened the show up with Jesus is Waiting. It played throughout Rev. Holt’s sermon and the opening montages.  

The episode sadly ended with UMI Says from Mos Def. It played during the prom scene up to Tobias breaking into the pod containment area.

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