Black Lightning: The Puppet Master

Black Lightning | Season 3 | Episode 3 : “Agent Odell’s Pipe-Dream”
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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]

“Uh, there’s no extreme in war.” Khalil Payne

The cartoon panels show Jefferson in a trench coat, Jennifer as Lightning, Henderson in a hazmat suit, Painkiller leaping and shooting a gun, and Agent Odell talking to Jefferson. Except for Jefferson in the trench coat, the other cartoon panels were in the show.

Khalil Payne/Painkiller (Jordan Calloway) sits at a table in an all-white room in the ASA facility. The ASA AI asks, “How many martial arts do you know?” Khalil: “Wing Chun. [We see Khalil do all of these disciplines.] Aikido. Kali. Wrestling. Western Boxing. Judo. Tae kwon do. Jujitsu. Muay Thai. Silat. I’ve mastered 23 different martial arts.” ASA AI: “Mastering 23 different marital arts seems extreme.” Khalil: “Uh, there’s no extreme in war.” Khalil quotes Pol Pot [the Cambodian dictator who killed millions of Cambodians]; it’s obvious that Khalil admires him.

Anissa Pierce/Blackbird (Nafessa Williams) is back in Freeland. She walks into her apartment, Jennifer/Lighting (China Anne McClain) is on the coach waiting for her sister to get in. Jennifer lectures Anissa about staying out all night and not calling her. Anissa tells her she sounds like their father. Anissa says she was out with Jamillah and promises to call Jennifer next time. Jennifer asks who Jamillah is as Anissa goes upstairs to get some sleep.

Chief Bill Henderson (Damon Gupton) [He’s the chief of police of Freeland now] is in the ASA detainment facility wearing a hazmat suit. He finds Sergeant King (Crystal Lee Brown) in one of the cages with a dampening collar on. He asks her what is happening. She tells him there is a virus that is affecting the metas; she has the virus. Henderson tells her he will get her a doctor, she tells him she has already seen two doctors; it is too late for her. He asks her why she didn’t tell him she was a meta; she explains that she did it to protect him. Sgt. King asks Henderson for a favor. In her locker, she has hidden a safe deposit box key. She has money stolen from some criminals. She tries to defend her actions. Sgt. King: “They were criminals.” Henderson: “So are you.” Sgt. King needs him to give the money to her family; it is all they will have. Henderson reluctantly agrees to do it. Sgt. King goes into convulsions. [And dies?]

Lynn (Christine Adams) and Jefferson/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) are in their quarters. Agent Percy Odell (Bill Duke) pays them a visit. He tells Lynn about the outbreak in the detainment facility. He thinks that Dr. Jace might be behind the virus. The ASA needs her to try to find a cure. To convince Lynn to help, he emphasizes it could get out into Freeland and kill all of the metas, including her daughters. She agrees to help.

An ASA helicopter is chasing Blackbird through the streets of Freeland. They are after her because she hijacked the bus with metas and led them to freedom. The helicopter is firing at her. Jamillah Olsen (Adetinpo Thomas) is recording the chase. Anissa stops for a moment to text Jennifer that she might be late. Blackbird picks up a tank that is on the street and tosses it at the helicopter. Jamillah is happily amazed. [I think it was a tank, but I’m not 100% sure. If it is, she is stronger than I thought she was.]

Jennifer is at school standing by her locker talking to Lisa (Taylor Polidore). A new boy (Jahking Guillory) walks in. Lisa calls dibs on the young man. He comes up to them and asks for Jennifer Pierce. Lisa looks disappointed, she points to Jennifer. He introduces himself, his name is Brandon and he’s at Garfield because of the occupation. The person at the front desk told him to have Jennifer give him a tour. Jennifer asks why, he answers that the front desk person said she knows the school better than anyone does; Jennifer agrees to be his guide.

Jefferson is alone in his quarters when Agent Odell comes back to speak to him. He tells Jefferson he needs his help. Jefferson scoffs. Odell hands Jefferson a watch and asks him to put it on. Jefferson does and uses a little energy to turn it on; he tells Odell it is just a watch. Agent Odell tells him to give the watch 10 volts of power. Jefferson does and it transforms on him into a new Black Lightning suit. Agent Odell: “This is the reason we have you here, why we’re testing you, why we’re putting you through so much pain and struggle. It’s so we can create tech that will help all metas to live better. The Markovians are planning on killing or capturing all of the metas in Freeland. I cannot stop them without your help.” [Odell will let Jefferson go home to see his daughters if he helps.] Jefferson admires his new Black Lightning suit, “Well, damn!”

The ASA is checking police officers for the meta gene. Chief Henderson complains to Anissa that why should the police department have to submit to this test. Anissa reminds him everyone else in town had to do it. An ASA soldier comes up to Henderson and tells him they want to test him next. Henderson is exasperated.

“If only you were more…melanted.” Agent Percy Odell

Old man Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III) refuses to take his old age medications. He knocks the pills from his male nurse’s hand. This amuses Agent Odell, “What’s happened to aging gracefully? I guess it’s true what they say, youth is wasted on the young.” Tobias gives him the evil eye. They begin discussing Issa, Tobias figures out that, Agent Odell killed him because he knew too much, he tells Odell he understands; he would have done the same. Agent Odell blames Tobias for his death, Tobias correctly points out that Odell shouldn’t have sent Issa to find out where the briefcase is. Agent Odell concedes the point and tells Tobias he will be dealing with him now. He tells Tobias he’s been in his cell for a while, Agent Odell puts on a pair of sunglasses and has the ceiling above Tobias open. A very bright UV ray shines on Tobias; Agent Odell says it is the same as Tobias being on the beach all day. Tobias’ skin begins to burn. Agent Odell: “If only you were more…melanted.”

DC Collectibles DCTV: Black Lightning Resin Statue

Jennifer conducts her tour of Garfield with Brandon. He is wearing a pair of $1000 sneakers. She comments you don’t see many black kids wearing such expensive shoes. He tells Jennifer he believes people should only be judged by the content of their character. Jennifer reminds him that isn’t how it actually works and that he’s being naïve. He happily agrees. She points to the hallway where her old boyfriend injured students and teachers. She tells him that in this classroom, a drug dealer held her and Anissa by gunpoint. She points to the gym where she missed the prom because Tobias Whale tore her ex-boyfriend’s spine out. Garfield’s sordid history shocks Brandon. He thanks her for the tour.

A shirtless Khalil is in the gym exercising when Agent Odell walks in to give him an assignment. He wants him to take out a Markovian safe house that is in Freeland. Khalil is happy to do it, he tells Agent Odell he has discovered a new way to kill someone. Agent Odell tells him he should download it, Khalil tells him he already has. The boy is murderous, and jacked.

Chief Henderson is with his wife Varetta (Karen Ceesay) [I believe this is the first time she has been on screen], and some of his officers. They are doing a neighborhood tour. Varetta thinks it is good for the citizens of Freeland to see their new police chief with his wife interacting with them. She believes this image won’t hurt if he runs for mayor. Henderson isn’t as optimistic as his wife is; he sees how bad the occupation is hurting the community. An elderly woman walks up to them to complain. He assures her the police are trying to make the occupation as painless as possible. Old Lady: “I asked you the question. Does this look painless to you?” Henderson: “No ma’am, it does not.” Old Lady: “You told us that you were going to give us a police department that we deserved. You said that you were going to look out for us. We finally got a black man in charge of the police, and this is what we get? Things are worse now than they were when white folk ran it. You should be ashamed of yourself?” She slaps Henderson. Varetta screams at her, the officers grab her, Henderson tells them to let her go. He can’t blame her for acting the way she did; he feels the same.

Agent Odell returns to Tobias’ cell, he is meditating. Odell offers an apology for what he did. Instead of torturing Tobias, he’d like to make him an offer. If he gets him the briefcase, he will grant Tobias his freedom, and help him regain his old territory. That isn’t enough for Tobias, if Odell wants to make a deal, he’ll have to offer a sum of money with many zeros behind it, and other things Tobias hasn’t thought of yet. Agent Odell reminds Tobias to be careful. Tobias turns down Agent Odell’s initial offer and goes back to meditating. Odell realizes he might have underestimated Tobias Whale.

Lynn is busy working on finding a cure for the virus; Agent Odell calls her for an update. She found some mutations that she and Dr. Jace had worked on; she believes Dr. Jace is behind this. Dr. Jace used Cyclotronic to spread it when he attacked the detainment facility; she infected him with the virus to stage a biological attack. Agent Odell tries to pressure Lynn to fix this problem soon. Lynn: “Look, I don’t work for you okay? I’m not your employee. I’m helping you. So I’m going to need you to change the way you talk to me.” He apologizes and asks her to continue working.

Chief Henderson shows up at Sgt. Kings’ house. Her husband Herbert (Antwan Mills) answers the door. He invites Henderson in but the Chief hands him a package and leaves quickly. Herbert opens the package; it is full of money. He is confused and calls out to Henderson. The Chief is long gone.

“I forgot how impertinent teenagers can be.” Agent Percy Odell

Jennifer walks in the house and Agent Odell is waiting for her. Jennifer: “So you’re just showing up in my living room in the middle of the day? Really? That’s what we doing now?” Agent Odell: “I forgot how impertinent teenagers can be.” He is ‘sad’ to inform her that Markovian agents killed Nichelle Payne. Jennifer is stunned; she asks why would they kill Nichelle. Odell tells her because they are trying to capture metas. He blames the Markovians for everything, killing Nichelle, the ASA having to occupy Freeland, her parents being away. If they can get rid of the Markovians, the occupation could end and everything could go back to normal. He asks her to take out a Markovian data farm on the outskirts of town. Jennifer agrees to do it.

Markovian Soldier 1: “Look! A shooting star.” Markovian Soldier 2: “I don’t think that’s a shooting star.” Markovian Soldier 1: “Then what is it.” Black Lightning strikes. After taking them out, he finds the captured ASA commandoes. Major Sara Grey (Katy O’Brian) tells him their capture was on purpose so that they could abduct Dr. Jace. His real mission is to help them capture her. Jefferson agrees and they raid a barn with some Markovian soldiers guarding it. After a quick fight, they discover that Dr. Jace isn’t there.

Anissa is walking back to her apartment and sees Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) sitting on a bench waiting for her. Grace tells her how much she has missed her, and Anissa replies she missed her too. Anissa tells her she can handle her being a changeling. Grace changes into an older Asian man (Joseph Steven Yang). Anissa: “Damn.” Old man Grace: “I don’t even know who I am. So how can you?” Anissa: “I-I just do.” Anissa asks Grace to change back which she does. Anissa tells her they can get her help and asks Grace not to leave. Anissa later goes to the bar to meet Jamillah and tell her that Grace is back. Anissa admits she has made mistakes in the past about love and she doesn’t want to hurt her. Jamillah: “So you thought we were gonna have sex, and I was just gonna lose my mind?” [Jamillah laughs] Anissa: “No.” Jamillah: “Yes you did.” Anissa: “No, I didn’t.” [Anissa laughs] Jamillah: “Yes you totally did. You need to get over yourself.” Jamillah is glad Grace is back, she and Anissa had fun and she isn’t hurt. They have a drink together. Anissa arrives home with Grace in bed and she joins her.

Lightning is in the air heading to the data farm with Agent Odell on comms giving her instructions. She sees the data farm and destroys it in honor of Nichelle. She asks Odell not to tell her parents, he’s glad to keep this their secret. He contacts Painkiller and gives him the Markovian safe house address. Painkiller breaks in and brutally kills everyone there. A very cool action scene.

Agent Odell thanks Jefferson for his help and keeps his side of the bargain. He allows Jefferson and Lynn to go home. Lynn doesn’t know what is going on. Jefferson tells Agent Odell he still doesn’t trust him. After they leave, Odell looks quite pleased. A screen with Jefferson’s picture states, ‘Hold Completed.’ Lynn and Jefferson arrive home to a happy family reunion. To Jefferson and Lynn’s surprise, Anissa and Jennifer have some things to do and both leave. Jefferson tells Lynn they have the house to themselves but Lynn tells him she has some work to do and goes upstairs. Bemused, Jefferson finds himself alone.

“You ghetto glowworm. I’m gonna kill your black monkey ass.” Tobias Whale

Tobias is in his cell and begins to hallucinate that Black Lightning is there. Black Lightning laughs at him and tells Tobias he can’t do anything to him because he’ll never leave there alive. Tobias angrily shouts to his imaginary enemy, “You ghetto glowworm. I’m gonna kill your black monkey ass.” Take your med Tobias.

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

Khalil is the ASA’s new top assassin. It’s obvious that he enjoys his job. The only thing that makes him smile is learning new ways to kill people. He displays his new skills when he easily wipes out a Markovian safe house. Agent Odell had better hope the chip in Khalil’s brain doesn’t malfunction, because if he remembers what Odell had him do his mother, he’ll use his new skills on Odell. Henderson is the chief of police, and his wife Varetta has bigger plans for him, the mayorship. The occupation affects Henderson; Sgt. King dies from a virus that is only affecting metas, she asks him to give her ill-gotten money to her husband, and an elderly woman blames him for the occupation and slaps him. The occupation is destroying the community and Chief Henderson feels it. Tobias feels the effects of not taking his youth serum; he’s a crotchety old man now. Agent Odell tries to get the whereabouts of the briefcase from him by torturing him; when that fails Odell offers Tobias his freedom and his old crime empire, but Tobias turns him down. Tobias is showing himself to be a bigger opponent than Odell could have imagined. Jefferson continues his hostilities towards Agent Odell until Odell provides him a watch that can turn into a new Black Lightning suit. He gives Jefferson the suit so he can assist on a mission to capture Dr. Jace who has created the new virus. As a reward, he’ll let Jefferson and Lynn go home to see their daughters. [We get our first Black Lightning sighting of the season.] Jefferson goes on the mission and Odell keeps his word. Jefferson still doesn’t like Odell, but he did his bidding. Lynn is working to find a cure for the virus. Agent Odell pressures her to find a cure, she reminds him she doesn’t work for him and he’d better talk to her better.  Jennifer gives a new student a tour of Garfield, and shows the schools sordid history that involved her. Agent Odell shows up at her home and tells her the Markovians killed Nichelle Pierce. [We know better.] He persuades her to destroy a Markovian data farm. Odell gets another Pierce to do his bidding. The only Pierce who isn’t assisting Agent Odell is Anissa. She has the ASA hunting down Blackbird for freeing some metas. Grace is back and she and Anissa are back together.

The person who ties all of these stories together is one Percy Odell. This is Odell’s episode, and Bill Duke is at his best. Odell is a complicated figure, he appears cold, but professional, he’s courteous but quietly menacing. He offers up good reasons why you should help him, but he leaves out the reasons why you shouldn’t. Accept for Tobias he played everyone like a fiddle. He is a great villain, and Bill Duke is a great addition to the cast. The episode was fantastic; accept for Gambi, it touched on all of the show’s main characters. It did so without feeling cluttered. The episode flowed nicely. The actions scenes were great; the CGI on Black Lightning, Lightning, and Blackbird using their powers looked good, but the action scene with Painkiller taking out the Markovian safe house was cinematic. I don’t usually point this out, but the makeup was top-notch this episode, from how sickly Sgt. King looked to the burns on Tobias’ body. The makeup department does a good job every week, but I thought it really looked good this episode.

After only a few songs the last episode, Black Lightning provided a wider range of music that fitted each scene perfectly. When the Khalil is talking to the ASA AI, Re-Ignition from Bad Brains plays.

As the ASA helicopter chases Blackbird down the streets of Freeland, Banshee from Santigold plays.

During Khalil’s workout, which Agent Odell interrupts to give him a mission, Rainer Maria’s song Lower Worlds plays in the background.

Howlin’ Wolf’s Smokestack Lightnin’ plays when Black Lightning strikes the Markovian base.

Faithful by Meshell Ndegeocello plays during the Anissa and Grace reunion.

Playing during Painkiller’s assault on the Markovian safe house in Freeland was Wanna Know by Obie Trice.

Wish You’d Come Home by Dumas King played during the Pierce’s reunion.

The episode plays out on John Coltrane’s Jupiter Variation.

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