“The difference? Grace knows who I am in all her forms and she has never hurt me. Can you say the same about Khalil?” Anissa Pierce
Comic Panels: Black Lightning strikes. Painkiller is behind the firewall. The Pierce family breaks bread together. One of Lady Eve’s twin’s eyeball lays on a table courtesy of Peter Gambi. Jennifer uses her electricity to burn out Painkiller’s poison in her system.
Peter Gambi (James Remar) holds a gun on Dr. Helga Jace (Jennifer Riker) and tells her that he should have ignored his orders 40 years ago and killed her. She tells him that with the Markovians meta program advancing and threatening America, they are on the same side. He asks her about Gravedigger, she tells him that he wants all of Freeland’s stable metas.
Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) briefs Agent Percy Odell (Bill Duke) and Major Grey (Katy O’Brian) on their successful Markovian mission. They were able to retrieve Lynn Pierce (Christine Adams) and Dr. Jace. Major Grey points out they let Tobias Whale escape and that the Markovians still surround Freeland. Odell looks forward to questioning Dr. Jace, but Jefferson tells him no, all his team, including Dr. Jace are to be erased from the ASA records. Major Grey strenuously objects, but after ordering her to leave, Odell acquiesces, he will erase everyone including Dr. Jace from ASA records. Jefferson informs him that a meta named Gravedigger is going to lead the Markovian army. Odell hasn’t heard of him before, but he’ll investigate. Odell: “Can I assume I can count on you in the coming war.” Jefferson: “No. Freeland can.”
Jennifer Pierce/Lightning (China Anne McClain) lays in her bathtub, her sister Anissa/Thunder (Nafessa Williams) covers her with ice to help her heal from their mission in Markovia. Anissa starts in on Jennifer again about Painkiller. Jennifer wishes she would call him Khalil. Anissa reminds her he has Painkiller’s chip in his brain. She tells her she hasn’t seen Painkiller in action, he is a wild animal. Jennifer asks whose girlfriend spends most of their time roaming Freeland as a leopard. Anissa: “The difference? Grace knows who I am in all her forms and she has never hurt me. Can you say the same about Khalil?” Jennifer doesn’t answer.
Devonte Jones (Rafael Castillo) is at Lady Eve’s (Jill Scott) brothel to collect the 30% cutback to Lala (William Catlett). She offers Devonte a chance to hook up with her girls. After a little persuasion, he consents. Destiny (Teesha Renee) drugs his drink after he picks a girl. Lady Eve looks at the video they made of Devante talking about the briefcase Lala has. Lady Eve looks pleased; she tells the twins (Calvin and Kevin Ross) she wants a sit down with Lala.
TC (Christopher Ammanuel) is examining Khalil Payne/Painkiller’s (Jordan Calloway) firewall. It is still intact. Gambi gives Khalil an art kit. Jennifer told him that he’s an artist. It will give him something of value to do to help battle his PTSD. Gambi used tailoring to help him get out of some dark places. Khalil is resistant to the idea. Gambi reminds him that idle hands are the devil’s playground. He promises Khalil that when this war with Markovia is over, he will get Perenna to counsel him, she was able to help Jennifer. Khalil says he’s okay, but he can sense Painkiller lurking.
Lynn and Jefferson are preparing dinner. She nearly faints, Jefferson catches her. She tells him she is suffering from withdrawal. Lynn tells Jefferson she is an addict; she now understands how he felt with his inability not to be Black Lightning. She should have been more supportive of him. He doesn’t blame her for that, instead he blames himself for not going after her when he instead went to save the Green Light kids. Lynn doesn’t blame him for that. She quickly leaves for the bathroom.
“It seems more like an execution than justice. Is that what you want?” Jennifer Pierce
Brandon (Jahking Guillory) is pacing, Jennifer tries to calm him down. He wants to kill Jace. Jennifer tells him that killing changes you, look at Khalil. She reminds him that they are back in Freeland, “It seems more like an execution than justice. Is that what you want?” Brandon changes course and asks to talk to Jace instead.
Lynn is in the bathroom talking to Anissa, she tells her mom that addiction is a disease. She tries to help Lynn with something and Lynn snaps at her. She apologizes immediately, Anissa tells her she doesn’t have to apologize, her family is behind her. Anissa leaves and Lynn finds a vial of Green Light. Downstairs in the dining room, Jefferson tells Anissa and Jennifer about his discussion with Odell about Freeland’s defense. He hopes that the girls will join him. Both are hesitant, Jennifer speaks up and says that Odell must go, Anissa agrees with her. Lynn joins them and agrees that he has hurt their family. She tells them that she and Jefferson have discussed that the family needs a clean slate and there must be no more secrets. To get the ball rolling she confesses about finding her last stash of glimmer and presents the vial to the family. Anissa offers her support while Jennifer destroys it. It’s Anissa’s turn, she tells them that she thinks Grace is the one, Jennifer tells her everyone knows that. It’s Jennifer’s turn now, she confesses to Anissa and Lynn that Odell made her an ASA asset, and she destroyed a Markovian data farm, killing people for him. Lynn understands, he tricked her into taking Green Light. Anissa assures her sister she did what she thought was right. Jennifer now knows it was wrong. The mood in the room is heavy. It’s Jefferson’s turn. Jefferson: “Well, I witnessed the erasing of multiple universes. And I helped save the universe that we all live in now. So, you know, I just had that…little tidbit.” That lightens the mood and Anissa tells him he always one ups them. Jennifer tells him to bless this mess, and Jefferson gives grace.
Lala (William Catlett) storms in angry about Lady Eve wanting a sit down, he threatens to increase his take. The twins go for their guns, Devonte reaches for his, Lala laughs. Eve sends her twins away and Lala sends Devonte with them. She assures Lala she didn’t request him to discuss his take, she wants to discuss the briefcase. He pretends like he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but Lady Eve says she heard about it from the streets. She wants it. Lala tells her he’s keeping it to bring Tobias to him. She laughs, he knows he can’t hurt Tobias, he has him programmed. Lady Eve says E pluribus Unum and Lala seizes up; she commands him to sit on the floor. She explains that he never worked for Tobias, he was working for her. The tech Tobias used on him was her tech, but she can set him free. She says Imperium in Imperio and sets him free from her control.
Back at their apartment, Anissa is complaining to Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) about Jennifer not listening to her about Khalil. Grace is painting her fingernails and she tells Anissa that Khalil is Jennifer’s first love and she’ll fight tooth and nail for him. She tells her to cut Jennifer some slack and be romantic and help her girlfriend paint her fingernails. Shonda (Sh’Kia Augustin) transfers an urgent call from the Perdi farm, it’s Anaya (Birgundi Baker) calling for help. Her farm is under attack from the Markovians. Anissa orders Shonda to call Black Lightning and tell him to meet her at checkpoint Charlie. She tells Grace to suit up.
Brandon bursts into Dr. Helga Jace’s (Jennifer Riker) lab. Jennifer is there to keep him from doing something stupid. He asks her why she experimented on his mom while she was pregnant with him. Jace remembers Helen, she was a lovely woman. Using his mother’s name makes him angrier. He crystallizes his mother’s ashes and turns them into daggers. Jennifer knocks his balance off causing him to only hit her arm. Jace tells him his father tried to kill her the same way after she helped Helen escape Markovia. Brandon thought his father was dead. Jace reminds him she can’t tell him more about his dad if he kills her. Jennifer pushes him out of the lab.
The ASA is trying to evacuate the farm, but the Markovian troops are gunning down the fleeing civilians. Black Lightning arrives and uses a major lightning strike to take out some Markovian troops. He then creates a lightning shield to protect the surviving civilians. Grace and Thunder arrive and join him and help fight off the remaining Markovians. Black Lightning reports that the Markovians swarmed the farm and took both Anaya and Thierry. Thunder feels guilty for getting the Perdi involved in this, and Grace is thankful for the Perdi’s helping her, so they decide to go after Anaya and Thierry while Black Lightning takes the refugees somewhere safe.
Gambi is in a trailer with one of Lady Eve’s twins. He has removed the man’s eyeball. He requests he deliver a message to her, “You tell her the Tailor sends his regards. And next time you plan to assassinate someone…don’t miss.”
Back at the sanctum, Jennifer advises Brandon to ask TC to help find his father. Brandon wonders if he has the same earth-based powers as his father, just like Jennifer’s powers are similar to her’s. Jennifer: “I’m kind of an upgrade. Black Lightning 2.0.” Jennifer sees Khalil drawing and joins him. She tells him she believes in him and she knows he’d never hurt her. Brandon starts to ask TC to help find his father but TC already knew what he was going to ask, he heard Brandon and Jennifer’s discussion, sound carries in this room. Khalil begins to glitch; TC goes into his mind to check. Painkiller tells Khalil his mission is to kill the Pierce family and he’s going to make him watch and listen. He breaks out of the firewall. Painkiller has knocked out TC and Brandon and is chocking Jennifer. Inside Khalil’s mind, Painkiller is chocking him. Jennifer begs Khalil to stop, inside his mind he and Painkiller are fighting; he is able to knock him behind the firewall again. Khalil looks at the damage Painkiller has done and runs away in horror. Jennifer veins are popping out from Painkiller’s poison, she lights up to burn it out of her system.
Later that evening Jennifer is back home sitting outside her bedroom window when Khalil stops by to apologize. Her hands light up as she’s ready to defend herself. He tells her he’s Khalil and she asks for how long. Khalil admits that he’s not himself any longer. He has to live with Painkiller. But he knows he still has a soul. Jennifer: “What Odell did to you was evil…but I can’t love a weapon that’s pointed at my family, even if it does have a soul.” She tells him she’ll see him around. He tells her she won’t.
“An eye for an eye. You’re getting literal in your old age. Well, at least I can tell my twins apart now.” Lady Eve
Lady Eve goes to Gambi’s tailor shop. They both draw their gun on the other one. Lady Eve: “I received your message. You know Gambi, an email would’ve sufficed.” Gambi: “An old friend like you deserves a personal touch.” Lady Eve: “An eye for an eye. You’re getting literal in your old age. Well, at least I can tell my twins apart now.” Gambi tells her to speak her piece because one way or another their feud ends now. She brought him a peace offering, the briefcase. Lady Eve brought it because she can’t open it, but she knows he’ll be able to figure it out. During her absence the ASA shattered Freeland so she wants him to burn down the ASA for it. She tells him their quarrel is over and leaves. Gambi goes back down to the sanctum and brings the briefcase to TC. He tries to tell Gambi about Khalil, but Gambi asks him to tell him later, he needs him to open the briefcase. TC easily opens it.
Jefferson and Lynn join Gambi in the sanctum. He tells them about the contents of the briefcase. The briefcase contains the genome of every meta the ASA has ever come in contact with. The briefcase updates every time the ASA inputs new data. The United States is responsible for starting and funding the Markovian meta research program a decade before they brought that research back to the US. Jefferson feels like the world must know about this. Gambi tells him there is more.
It began with an American solider in World War II named Tyson Sykes (Wayne Brady), or as we know him, Gravedigger. A flashback to Tyson being harassed by white soldiers. He’s kicking their asses until the MPs subdue him. The army gives him a choice, court martial or being a lab rat in the enhanced soldier program. He chooses lab rat. The program killed hundreds of soldiers, but he’s the only one who survived, it activated his dormant meta genes. The government sent him on a multitude of covert missions. We see him fight and kill a bunch of Nazi soldiers. The US government continued to run the program in Markovia during the cold war because they didn’t have any laws against human experimentation. Markovia had a coup and threw the US out. The government sent Gambi after the coup to extract the doctor who headed their program, Dr. Jace. Gravedigger helped with the coup because he hated a country that mistreated him and the black race. Jefferson says he beat him once, he can do it again, but Lynn says there is one big problem, she left her meta boosting formula in Markovia. Gravedigger can add any power he wants to.
In Markovia, a doctor (Mark Harris) injects Gravedigger with Lynn’s formula. Colonel Mosin (Thomas K. Belgrey) walks in and gives his report, he asks what Gravedigger wants. He thanks Colonel Mosin for his service but tells him he’s no longer needed and with his new powers, he easily kills him from across the room. Markovian Doctor [speaking Russian]: “Success. Ultimate power…residing in only one man.” Gravedigger [speaking English]: “And vengeance, doctor. Ultimate vengeance…in one man. Me.”
Gambi regrets not killing Dr. Jace 40 years ago when he had a chance. We find out the U.S. sent him to Markovia after the coup to extract her. Jefferson gives Agent Odell and Major Grey a report on the Markovian mission. Anissa warns Jennifer about Khalil/Painkiller. She’s proven correct when Painkiller attacks Jennifer. Khalil regains control, but Jennifer is afraid of him now. Devonte goes to collect Lala’s cut from Lady Eve, but she persuades him to hook up with one of her girls, allowing her to learn about the briefcase in Lala’s possession. When Lala meets with her, she uses Tobias’ trigger words on him. She explains that since Tobias was working for her, he was actually under her employ too. The tech Tobias used on Lala was her tech. She uses some more Latin words to release him. He gives her the briefcase, which she later gives to Gambi. The Pierce family has dinner together and try to create a clean slate. Lynn says they should have no more secrets and she produces a vial of glimmer from her old stash. Anissa says Grace is the one. Jennifer confesses about working for Odell and destroying the Markovian data farm, not knowing how many people she killed. Jefferson lightens the mood by a humble brag about saving the universe. The family is united like they haven’t been in ages. Jennifer has to keep Brandon from killing Dr. Jace, he finds out his father is alive. The Markovians attack the Perdi farm, and Black Lightning, Thunder and Grace fight them off. Near the end of the episode, Gambi tells Jefferson and Lynn about the contents of the briefcase. The United States started and funded the Markovian meta research program. The US started the program during World War II and the first and only meta they created from that program was a black US soldier named Tyson Sikes, who would become known as Gravedigger. To make matters worse, Gravedigger has Lynn’s meta boosting formula and he’s coming back to America for vengeance.
This episode touched on most of the storylines of the season. Nearly everyone in the cast made an appearance or were mentioned. Most of the scenes were good, but because the episode was so packed, the pacing wasn’t tight. As a viewer, instead of enjoying a full meal, you got to nibble on a lot of tasty little treats. Satisfying, but not enough to get full. The episode mostly was setting us up for the final two episodes of the season. Understandable and necessary, but it doesn’t make for the greatest viewing. Like I said earlier, most of the scenes were good, so I enjoyed the episode. My three favorite scenes: the family dinner, Painkiller and Khalil fighting each other, and the flashback to World War II. With the family dinner, it’s the first time we’ve seen the Pierce family this united and at peace with each other since the end of Season One. I liked the how the fight between Khalil and his alter ego Painkiller was staged. It also showed Jennifer that maybe she should listen to someone every once and while, she doesn’t know it all yet. Sidenote: its fun watching Jennifer have to deal with Brandon, he’s acting like her most of the time. That fight between Gravedigger and the Nazis was well choreographed. Showing him in World War II illustrates why he would hate the good old USA.
Music for this episode:
I’m Still in Love Wit You by Al Green. It played when Jefferson and Lynn were preparing dinner.
During the family meal, Break Apart by Bonobo [feat. Rhye] was in the background.
Could’ve Been by HER [feat. Bryson Tiller] played when Khalil went to Jennifer to apologize for what happened with Painkiller.