Black Lightning: Difference of Opinion

Black Lightning | Season 3 | Episode 7 : “Henderson’s Opus”
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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]

Why is my life always so messed up? I thought getting my feelings out in this video would help me stabilize, but I’m so scared.” Teen Grace

Comic panel from the beginning of the episode. Khalil Payne/Painkiller (Jordan Calloway) is holding a sparring partner by the throat. Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) is holding Teen Grace (Stella Smith). Reverend Jeremiah Holt (Clifton Powell) is pointing a gun at Black Lightning. Chief Bill Henderson (Damon Gupton) is holding a press conference [not in the episode].

The teen aged Grace Choi is recording a video. Teen Grace: “Why is my life always so messed up? Medicine isn’t working anymore. So, I’m shapeshifting left and right. I thought getting my feelings out in this video would help me stabilize, but I’m so scared.” Anissa Pierce/Blackbird (Nafessa Williams) walks into their apartment. Teen Grace tells her that she can’t control her shapeshifting and she’s heard the ASA is going door-to-door now, and she is scared. Anissa tries to calm Grace down, when she’s anxious she can’t control her shapeshifting. Teen Grace shapeshifts to her old man self (Joseph Steven Yang) back to her adult self (Chantal Thuy). Anissa tells her AI Shonda (Sh’Kia Augustin) to begin the relaxation program. Anissa holds Grace and she eventually calms down. She is still worried about the ASA and to complicate things, Anissa is still without her powers.

Jennifer Pierce/Lightning (China Anne McClain) is looking at old pictures of Khalil when she gets a text from Odell. Peter Gambi (James Remar) is also looking at pictures of Khalil but he isn’t being nostalgic, he’s trying to match his picture with the new ASA asset. Lynn Pierce (Christine Adams) comes storming into the sanctum bitching at Gambi for calling her. He tells Lynn that the only way he can protect Jeff and Anissa from the ASA is to be a step-in front of them. He needs her to take the device he’s holding into the Pit so he can gain access to the ASA mainframe.

Chief Henderson, Reverend Holt and Blackbird discuss the door-to-door campaign. Reverend Holt thinks the ASA won’t search the church because of international law. Chief Henderson: “Reverend, the ASA don’t give a damn about international law, and this new chick in charge, this Major Gray, she’s got ice in her veins.”  They need to get the kids they are hiding out of Freeland. Anissa tells them she is working on reopening the perimeter, but they aren’t ready yet. Henderson says that he and Holt will have to come up with a new way to get the kids out.

Jennifer gets in a car expecting Agent Odell, but instead the person who sent the text was Major Sara Gray (Katy O’Brian), she explains he was shot and that she’s in charge in Odell’s absence. Jennifer: “Is he dead?” Major Gray: “Far from it. He’s in the hospital and expected to make a full recovery.” Jennifer: “Getting shot at his age, he needs to go ahead and retire. Start that rideshare business like I told him.”  Major Gray informs her that because of increased Markovian activity in the city, she is being grounded to protect her. Jennifer objects, she is treating her like her parents. Gray tells her trust is earned, so if there is anything, she can do for her, Jennifer quickly tells her she wants all the info she has on Dr. Jace.

“Damn it! Let this be a lesson, my children. Skin folk ain’t always kin folk.” Reverend Jeremiah Holt

Henderson and Holt are watching an ASA checkpoint, in the vehicle with them are the kids they are trying to smuggle out of Freeland. Frank ‘Two-Bits’ Tanner (Jason Louder) has put a diuretic in the ASA goon’s drink; he soon leaves his post. They have planted a bomb under his truck to cause a distraction so they can get the kids beyond the checkpoint. Before Henderson can detonate it, Black Lightning swoops in from the sky and disables the bomb and flies off. Reverend Holt: “Damn it! Let this be a lesson, my children. Skin folk ain’t always kin folk.” Henderson: “This negro just messed us up.”

Chief Henderson goes to Jefferson’s house to find out what is he doing. Jefferson is surprised the résistance planted the bomb. They argue over Henderson’s methods. Jefferson begins quoting Dr. King and Henderson finishes the statement and reminds Jefferson he can quote Dr. King too. Jefferson complains about not being in the loop. Henderson tells him he is not sure where Jefferson is. Jefferson: “I cannot get down with your methods.”  Chief Henderson: “Duly noted for the record. I’m only trying to do what I can to protect this city.” Jefferson: “Yeah? By living a double life? Chief of police and member of the resistance. Now, you remember how pissed off you were when I didn’t tell you I was Black Lightning. Who’s got the secret now?” Henderson: “Are you seriously trying to compare me keeping a secret for 30 days to you keeping a secret for 30 years?!” Jefferson: “No! Look, the point is we gotta get on the same page!” Henderson: “And by ‘same page,’ you mean doing them the way you would do them? Now, look, this ‘my way or the highway’ mess you run on your daughters, you can’t run on me, I know what I’m doing.” He tells Jefferson he can handle the ASA his way, while he’ll handle the ASA his way. Henderson storms out the door.

Reverend Holt tells Blackbird that he thinks Black Lightning is a sell-out. He is desperate to get the kids out of there. Anissa leaves and calls Gambi to see if he’s found a new place where they can breach the perimeter again.

DC Collectibles DCTV: Black Lightning Resin Statue

An ASA tech is hitting Erica Moran (Gabriella Garcia) with a bat; she is absorbing the hits. Lynn tells him to stop and for Erica to expel the energy. While Erica is lifting weights, a new scientist, Dr. Matthew Blair (Brandon Hirsch) compliments Lynn on her credentials and the good work she’s doing there. It is an honor for him to work with her. Lynn thanks him and jokes he really sucking up on his first day. He jokes back he was born with a brown nose. [If you didn’t watch the episode, he’s a brother.] Major Gray walks in to disturb the congenial mood. She is impressed that Erica can absorb kinetic energy and convert it to raw strength. Erica can’t maintain this strength at 100% and Gray complains to Lynn about it. Lynn tells her if she wants her to do more, she will need more access. Gray complains about having to work with the ‘white coats’. Major Gray will only give her more access to the Green Light kid’s files. After Gray leaves, Dr. Blair jokes, “I hope people are swiping left on her Tinder profile.” Lynn asks Dr. Blair to look over some stats, once he leaves the room Lynn uses the device Gambi gave her.

Jennifer stops by Brandon’s (Jahking Guillory) locker to talk to him. He isn’t interested in talking to Jennifer because after breaking into his apartment and trying to electrocute him; she’s ghosted him. Over the loudspeaker, the students are told the school is staging a Markovian attack drill, and they should go with a buddy to seek cover. Brandon and Jennifer go into the gym locker room, Jennifer tells him she’ll give him information on Dr. Jace if he does something for her.

ASA commandos led by Major Gray are preparing to enter Reverend Holt’s church. Holt is with the kids praying and holding a gun in case the ASA finds them. The ASA goes room-to-room. Suddenly the door opens in front of Reverend Holt, but instead of Major Gray, it is Two-Bits. Reverend Holt and the kids are hiding in his bar. “Lord have mercy, Two-Bits. About to send your ass to the promised land.” Two-Bits has brought them some food and he and Reverend Holt have a drink to calm their nerves. [Nice tense scene, I thought they were still in the church.]

Anissa invites Jefferson to her place and he jokingly asks did she invite him so that she can throw him out. She asked her father over to do her a favor, escort the kids out of Freeland for her. They get into another heated discussion about the résistance methods. Anissa admits she’s done some thing she isn’t proud of to help, before Jefferson can go on, she tells him the city needs Black Lightning, she needs Black Lightning. Grace isn’t doing well and she needs him to get Grace out of the city. She loves Grace but she can’t do it herself because she’s still recovering from the injuries, she got from bringing Tavon back [which she reminds him he made her do just to make him feel guilty]. She hugs him and admits she needs him. We all know papa Jeff isn’t going to let his baby down.

Lynn is with Cloaked Gambi (Justin Livingston) who is dressed as a lab tech. She points him to the mainframe. When Gambi gets there, he looks at a feed of a sleeping Khalil.

A crowd gathers as ASA commandos toss a young woman around, a man tries to interject but the ASA goons beat him up. They drag an elderly man out of his house, a door at another house explodes. Some men [who I believe are Markovians] start shooting at the ASA. They return fire, Black Lightning hears the gunfight and attacks the Markovians, subduing them. Major Gray and the other ASA goons look confused. An ASA goon shoots the prisoners in their heads. Black Lightning grabs the man by the throat and tells him no one commits cold blooded murder in his town. Major Gray orders Black Lightning to put the man down. Black Lightning: “I don’t take orders from you, lady.” Major Gray: “Black Lightning, you will obey my commands, or I will order enough airstrikes to turn this craphole into hell on Earth, and I will simply pick the enemy from the rubble.”  Black Lightning is forced to put him down.

“He’s not a monster! Don’t call him a ‘Monster’ or an ‘It’ or a ‘Thing’ or any other word that isn’t Khalil.” Lynn Pierce

Gambi brings Lynn to the room where Khalil is. Lynn is shocked, Gambi wants to unplug ‘it’, but Lynn wants to check to see if he still has his memories. He does and we see Khalil kiss Jennifer and Tobias rip his mechanical spine out of his back. Lynn wakes Khalil up, he knows her because he has her CV. Gambi orders him to state his missions. Khalil tells them he took out a Markovian safe house, he killed Sinzell, terminated Blackbird and he killed Nichelle Payne. Lynn gasps in horror. Gambi: “That thing killed Khalil’s mother. You need to shut this monster down before the ASA uses it to slaughter anyone else.” Lynn: “He’s not a monster! Don’t call him a ‘Monster’ or an ‘It’ or a ‘Thing’ or any other word that isn’t Khalil. I lost 14 kids, Gambi. Fourteen people died because of me. And I won’t lose another person ever again. I’ll save Khalil if it’s the last thing I do.” She tells Gambi to leave or she’ll turn him in herself. Gambi: “I’ve given you administrative rights to the ASA network. You’ll have full access to the ASA’s database, and all the surveillance footage from inside the Pit. I hope in the end, you’ll do the right thing.” Lynn: “When have I not?” After Gambi leaves, Lynn puts Khalil asleep and pops a Green Light pill.

The other druggie in the family is smoking a joint at Brandon’s. He wants the information on Dr. Jace but he has to do her a favor first; she wants him to touch her hand to find out what their powers will do. When they touch, a big light show happens, it is like their powers combining. Jennifer wants to do it again but Brandon wants the info now. He quickly realizes that Jennifer doesn’t have it. Jennifer tells him it’s no big deal, but he tells her it is a big deal, Jace killed his mother. He demands she leave. Jennifer can’t see how she’s acting.

Anissa leads teen Grace to meet Black Lighting. Teen Grace is afraid of Black Lightning, but Anissa assures her he won’t hurt her. Teen Grace is also afraid that she’s being abandoned again, but Anissa tells her Black Lightning will take care of her and she’ll see her soon. Anissa gives Teen Grace a necklace and hands her over to her father. They meet up with Reverend Holt at Two-Bits bar, the good Reverend greets Black Lightning with his gun. He tells him he doesn’t trust him. Two-Bits runs in and tells them that the ASA is down the road and heading their way. Reverend Holt is forced to turn the kids over to Black Lightning and warns him that God is watching over them. Reverend Holt: “Now he may not come when you want him to…” Black Lightning impatiently: “But he’s always right on time, yeah.” Reverend Holt: “I still don’t trust your black ass.”

Gambi and Anissa are in the sanctum guiding Jefferson. Major Gray and her troops stop Black Lightning, she orders him to hand over the kids, he reminds her he doesn’t take her orders. She orders her goons to shoot the kids, Black Lightning creates a shield to protect the kids. He tells the kids to head to the rally point, all of them head there except teen Grace who runs off separately. An ASA goon sees her and follows. Once the kids are gone, Black Lightning electrocutes Gray and the other goons into unconsciousness. Anissa wants to join them to help, but Gambi locks the doors. He won’t let her go because she’s still without her powers and would only get herself hurt. Jefferson joins up with the kids, but he notices that teen Grace is missing. The oldest kid Natalie (Elizabeth Youman) tells Black Lightning she’ll look after the other kids while he looks for Grace. Anissa is able to guide Jefferson to Grace’s location because she put a tracking device in the necklace. Gambi proudly looks at her. Teen Grace is in an abandoned house trying to hide. The ASA goon enters looking for her. Grace turns into a leopard and mauls him. Black Lightning walks in and is confronted by Leopard/Grace.

“I keep my leopard sense of smell in my other forms. Your scent matches Jefferson Pierce’s. But don’t worry, I’ll never tell anyone.” Grace Choi

She shifts back to teen Grace when she realizes he came back for her. She hugs him and shifts back to adult Grace. Grace: “Anissa’s really lucky to have such an amazing family, Mr. Pierce. I wish that I had a dad who cared for me as much as you care for Anissa.” Black Lightning: “But how?” Grace: “I keep my leopard sense of smell in my other forms. Your scent matches Jefferson Pierce’s. But don’t worry, I’ll never tell anyone.” Black Lightning: “Promise?” Grace: “I promise.”  Anissa is able to see them walking out of the house and tears up. She is going to miss Grace but she’s glad she’ll be safe.

Jennifer is in her room when she receives an encrypted file from Major Gray on Dr. Jace. Khalil is sparring with his newest victim, happily breaking his bones and explaining the damage he is doing when he gets a message, he has a new target…Black Lightning!  

KBear Review [Read time: 1-3 minutes]

The ASA is cracking down on Freeland and they are going door-to-door looking for Markovian troops but more likely trying to find the insurgents. Grace is freaking out and shape shifting uncontrollably. It’s clear Anissa needs to get her out of town. Chief Henderson and Reverend Holt are trying to get some kids they are hiding out of Freeland too, but the perimeter is still closed. While Blackbird looks to breech the perimeter again, the two men come up with another plan. They are going to blow up an ASA truck to create a diversion so they and sneak the children across. The plan is working until Black Lightning shows up and disables the bomb. Henderson and Jefferson have a big argument on the résistance methods and where Jefferson stands. Henderson tells Jefferson that he can handle the ASA his way, while the résistance will handle the ASA their way. Anissa asks her father to take the kids and Grace out of town for her, she admits she needs his help. She and Gambi have found or created a new breech in the perimeter. Reverend Holt doesn’t trust Black Lightning, he thinks he is a sell-out, but out of necessity lets him take the kids. Aside from disabling the bomb, he also had taken out some Markovian soldiers for the ASA to end their firefight, but the ASA executed them on the spot. So when the ASA tries to take the kids from him, he fries them. He gets Grace and the kids out, but now the ASA gives Painkiller his new target, Black Lightning. Lynn is reluctantly helping Gambi get access to the ASA mainframe. He shows her that Khalil is alive, but Gambi doesn’t see the resurrected Khalil as human, and wants Lynn to unplug him, especially after they find out he killed his mother. Lynn still sees Khalil as human, especially after she finds his memories. Lynn tells Gambi she lost 14 meta kids, she isn’t losing another. She asks him not to tell Jennifer. Gambi gives her administrative rights to the mainframe. Jennifer is dealing with the new boss, Major Gray. She asks her for info on Dr. Jace. Jennifer tortures Brandon by dangling this information even though she doesn’t have it yet. She wants them to touch to see what their powers will do. It appears it creates something more powerful. Brandon gets tired of her jerking him around and orders her out of his place. Eventually, Gray sends Jennifer an encrypted file on Dr. Jace.

The streak of excellent episodes continues. Jefferson is trying to maintain what little peace there is in Freeland, but he makes the members of the résistance question his loyalties. Jefferson doesn’t like their more violent methods, but I have to side with Henderson on this. They are under occupation by an organization that is the cause of this to begin with. The ASA began the meta program in Freeland over 30 years ago, Markovia would not be interested in Freeland if it wasn’t for the ASA. The ASA isn’t trying to protect the citizens of Freeland, they are trying to protect their meta program. Major Gray wasn’t kidding when she said she’d gladly bomb Freeland if she doesn’t get what she wants. The ASA has stripped Freeland of their freedom, taken their children and put the kids in cages, while experimenting on them. These aren’t the type of people you can peacefully protest against. I wonder how much restraint Jefferson will have when he finds out they’ve made Jennifer an ASA asset, and turned Lynn into a Green Light addict. That’s what’s making the show so great this season, they are asking hard questions and aren’t giving the characters or the audience any easy answers.

Even though it was a dark and serious episode, there were some nice comical moments, mainly given by Clifton Powell’s Reverend Holt. Mr. Powell has been a delight throughout this series, and he was again in this episode. He always had something funny to say. Even though he is often comic relief, he is never made to be clownish. He is a man of faith, who is actually a good man who does good things for the community. Too many shows make ministers either secretly evil, or hypocritical buffoons. Reverend Holt is someone you can respect and admire. I wouldn’t mind having a drink with Reverend Holt myself. We got to see Leopard/Grace again and anytime you can have a leopard maul a bad guy isn’t a bad thing. Grace had a very touching scene with Jefferson, letting him know Anissa is lucky to have such a great dad.

Passion by Nightmares on Wax played during the Grace and Anissa scene where Anissa is trying to get her to relax.

During the checkpoint scene where Black Lightning interferes with Henderson and Holt’s plan, Right Place Wrong Time by Dr. John plays. It was appropriate, because Black Lightning was at the right place at the wrong time. Thanks, Black Lightning!

Back Pocket by Vulfpeck plays while Jennifer and Brandon are in the locker room for the Markovian attack drill.

Brandon is listening to Lady Lady by Masego when Jennifer shows up at his apartment. Their relationship is pretty interesting so far. I wonder what happens when she finds out about Khalil.

At the end of the episode while we see Khalil beating up another of his unfortunate sparring partners, Violent Shiver by Benjamin Booker plays. Painkiller has been assigned to kill Black Lightning, let the fireworks begin.

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