Black Lightning | Season 4 | Episode 1 : “Collateral Damage“
Jefferson Pierce: “Well, good thing there’s no more Black Lightning’s world. Black Lightning’s dead.”
Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) is standing by Bill Henderson’s grave. His father’s ghost, Alvin Pierce (Keith Arthur Bolden) joins him. Jefferson blames himself for Henderson’s death, he included him in his ‘Black Lightning’ life. Alvin tries to tell his son, we are all going to end up dead in the end anyway, what is important is how we led our lives. Jefferson drives away from the cemetery and listens to the radio. It’s been a year since the ASA occupation and the battle against Markovia. Things aren’t peaceful because of a gang war between the 100 and the Kobra Cartel over Freeland. He sees the police harassing a black kid whose only crime is wearing a hoodie and carrying his violin. Jefferson tries to intervene and the cops order him to get back in his car. Jefferson continues to walk towards them and they pull their guns on him. In broad daylight Jefferson lights up the cops. He uses his electrical powers to erase their memories about the incident. For good measure he destroys the squad car.
Anissa/Thunder (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer/Lightning (China Anne McClain) are visiting Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) who is still in a coma. Jennifer is worried about Anissa; she has been beside Grace’s bed the entire year. Anissa reminds her about her dedication to Khalil. Lynn (Christine Adams) comes in to check on Grace, she informs Anissa they are working on a treatment they hope will revive her. We switch to Jefferson and Lynn attending couple’s therapy. Their relationship is rocky at best. The intimacy and trust are gone. Jefferson is also having trouble connecting to his daughters. Jefferson is in his own bubble of pain.
Peter Gambi (James Remar) is at a bar to meet an old friend Lauren Caruso (Elena Varela) about a job with Monovista Industry. He isn’t interested but he’s glad to see her again. After she leaves, he notices Mayor Billy Black (Reginald Hayes) on TV, he asks Jefferson to say a few words in honor of Chief Henderson. Jefferson speaks about his friend, and after he’s done, the Mayor introduces the new police chief, Ana Lopez (Melissa De Sousa). She blames Henderson’s death on undocumented metas and she promises to register them. Next, they interview Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III) from home, he’s now seen as a generous philanthropist keen on helping to revive Freeland. Jefferson freaks out when he sees him on TV. At a family meeting, Anissa wants to kill Tobias to protect the family. Lynn agrees with her, but Jefferson is against it. Jennifer isn’t there, she’s out flying again.
Lynn Pierce: “You’ve been in pain much longer than I accounted for.”
Jefferson is drinking alone at a bar, Gambi joins him. He tries to give Jefferson some perspective about Henderson’s death, but Jefferson doesn’t want to hear it. Gambi tells him he knows about the incident with the police earlier, Jefferson tells him he covered his tracks, but Gambi tells him he didn’t completely. The police have his partial plate numbers. Gambi tells him if he’s going to do things like that, he should be wearing his suit. Jefferson declares he will never wear his Black Lightning suit again. He explains the difference between acting as Jefferson and Black Lightning. [It doesn’t make sense.] Gambi reminds him that he not only needs the suit for his safety, but for his health too. Jefferson doesn’t care. He tells Gambi how Lynn and Anissa want to kill Tobias. What worries Jefferson most is that they don’t seem bothered about killing Tobias. All of the women in his family have had to kill, and he blames himself for that too. Gambi tells Jefferson that what is most important is letting his family see him get back up. Jefferson grouses that Tobias popped back up on TV, and he’s used his money to rehabilitate his image.
Lala (William Catlett) shoots his TV when he sees Tobias, he complains to Devonte Jones (Rafael Castillo) that he kept things together while Tobias hid. He wants Devonte to bring the anti-meta weapons to him. Lynn is wearing her version of a superhero costume and uses Gravedigger’s persuasion powers to prevent a woman from being kidnapped and trafficked. Lynn is testing the serum she created that lets anyone borrow meta powers. Jefferson gets a call from Henderson’s phone; the speaker wants to meet Black Lightning. It was Detective Shakur who sent the message to Black Lightning. He was Henderson’s protégé. Jennifer thought it was easy. Henderson told him to give Black Lightning a chance, he tells a hidden Jefferson that he isn’t impressed, it looks like Black Lightning has given up on Freeland. Thunder and Lightning break up a drug drop. Jennifer thought it was easy. [This will come back to bite her on the arse.] Lala meets up with some members of the 100, he orders Devonte to set up a fake drug buy to set a trap for Thunder and Lightning. He hands them the anti-meta guns and tells them to kill Lightning because she’s the strongest. If they don’t kill her, he’ll kill them.
Jefferson is back at school; he reads a letter from Henderson telling him he can trust Detective Shakur. Chief Lopez and Shakur pay him a visit about the police incident, they have his partial plate number. He denies being there, after they leave his office, they agree that he’s lying. Thunder and Lightning stage another drug bust; Lala’s men are waiting for them. Lightning is shot, but Thunder disperses the gunmen and gets her sister to safety. Jennifer is at the sanctum rapidly recovering from her wounds. Jefferson is upset that Anissa and Jennifer were out there, Lynn questions if Jennifer would have been shot if he went with them. Once Gambi id’s the shooter, Jefferson pays him a visit, giving him a severe beating and breaking a limb. Jefferson is back at home drinking again, Lyn apologizes about what she said earlier, she tells him she is concerned about him. Chief Lopez and Detective Shakur are at the bedside of the assailant who Jefferson savagely beat. They are sure that Black Lightning is back, but Shakur has never seen Black Lightning cripple someone like this before. Lynn walks into her lab, Tobias is there. He made a large donation to the lab and he’s joined the board of directors. He tells Lynn he looks forward to working with her. Jennifer is flying again absorbing energy. She becomes unconscious and begins to plunge down to the earth.
Even though they defeated the Markovians, and helped end the ASA occupation, the Pierce family isn’t in a celebratory mood. Jefferson is subsumed with guilt, from Henderson’s death to each member of his family being a killer. Jefferson blames his life as Black Lightning to leading everyone he loves to doom. He pledges not to pick up the Black Lightning mantle again. That doesn’t prevent him from using his powers. He attacks some racist cops in broad daylight, not really caring who sees him. Jennifer is shot and he brutally attacks the shooter, it was a vicious scene, something Jefferson wouldn’t do if he was in a better state of mind. Jefferson’s new best friend is the bottle, and they are spending a lot of time together. Lynn was a complete wreck last season, I guess its Jefferson’s time this season. Jennifer is always screwed up, her new way to show this is constantly flying and absorbing energy. It gives her some kind of relief; she seems addicted to it and it looks like it might take her out. Since this is the final season, everything’s on the table. Grace is still in a coma and Anissa won’t leave her side. Lynn went out as a vigilante to try out her serum, and maybe join the rest of her family in the family business. It continues showing that on the outside she looks like she’s coping, but in the inside, she’s still a wreck. Not helping the family is Tobias being back. The people of Freeland have a short memory, because he’s a respected civic leader again. Maybe they’ll invite the ASA back too. Gambi might be getting a love interest, I hope for his sake she isn’t there to betray him. [Of course, she’s there to betray him, no one can be happy on this show.]
A nice episode to begin the season, a good idea to make it one year later to show how extra dysfunctional the Pierce family is now. MVP of the episode was Cress Williams. He did a fantastic job of showing how low Jefferson has fallen since last we saw him. He’s so lost in his grief and guilt, that he’s losing his family. I don’t expect a sudden turn around yet, let’s see how much further he has to fall. The fight scenes with Thunder and Lightning were short but exciting. Sorry, this is the last season, I’m confident they’ll go out strong.
The music was diverse and plentiful. They continue with the fantastic work they do in picking the music. Have fun matching the song with the scene.
“I Feel an Urge Coming On” Nick Waterhouse
“Woman” (feat. Lianne La Havas) Nao
“Pusherman” Curtis Mayfield
“Let the Dollar Circulate” Billy Paul
“Uncloudy Day” The Staple Singers
“Clap Clap” Ncognita
“Everybody Is a Star” Sly & The Family Stone
“Quarrel” Moses Sumney
“One Step Ahead” Aretha Franklin