“There’s one. The path has been corrected. Go forth and conqueror.” Khalil Payne
We hear a voiceover from Khalil Payne/Painkiller (Jordan Calloway) talking about trying to create a new and peaceful life in Akashic Valley. Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) and Anissa Pierce/ Thunder (Nafessa Williams) are in the back of a self-driving car. It arrives in Akashic Valley, which looks like a futuristic city. The two are greeted at their hotel by an AI concierge named Imani (Kaya Brielle). They go out for a night on the town and are enjoying a performance from a hologram (Fantastic Negrito) at a nightclub. A photographer (Jeff Holbrook) takes Grace’s picture. She leaves to go to the bathroom when some goons grab her. Anissa goes to pay their bill and sees Grace being dragged out. She pursues them. Khalil is watching this on a big screen monitor and sees Anissa; he goes after her. His Painkiller programming tries to kill her, but Khalil duels with his deadly personality and stops him, but his poison still knocks her out.
Khalil talks to the bartender, Philky (Alexander Hodge), who is also his tech man. He had been in the ASA but had fallen upon hard times as an alcoholic. He met Khalil, and using money they took from a secret ASA cash stash, they bought the bar and built their secret lab below it. Their plan is to take Painkiller’s kill commands out of his head. Seeing Anissa activated him since the commands were to kill the Pierces. Donald (James Roch) greets Anissa as she wakes up. She angrily spots Khalil. The Photographer is video chatting with his boss Maya (Sibongile Mlambo). He tells her about a black man poisoning his partner when they were kidnapping Grace. She is intrigued by his description of Khalil. She is even more intrigued when he tells her that Grace shapeshifted into a leopard, she wants to check out this meta herself. Because Anissa is still suffering from Painkiller’s poison, she orders Khalil’s “punk ass” out there to save Grace.
“I know what’s it’s like to be one person on the inside and have to pretend to be someone else on the outside. To lead a double life. Struggle with identity.” Donald
Khalil hits the photographer with his car to interrogate him. The photographer assures him this isn’t evil like sex trafficking, he thinks the people he works for are a mind cult, and they kidnap people to study their brains. Philky traces the photographer’s movements which lead Khalil to a warehouse. Donald and Anissa begin talking, he was a former Marine medic suffering from PTSD, after taking too much of his VA medication and trying to drown it with alcohol, Khalil found him in the alley and saved him. While discussing Khalil, Donald talks about people who live dual personalities. Maya and her henchmen arrive at the lab to look at an unconscious Grace, meanwhile at one of her warehouses, Khalil shows up and takes out her security guards. He finds kids connected to laptops. Philky advises him to take the laptops since they might hold the key to get the programming out of Khalil’s head. The call the police to rescue the kids.
Philky and Khalil meet up with a woman named Wo Man (Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing). She has some info on Maya, she tells them how dangerous Maya is. Wo also appears to be an arms dealer since for a bag full of money, she supplies Khalil with a large stach of guns. Grace wakes up and using her leopard powers breaks out of her restraints. Khalil enters the lobby of the building Grace is being held at. While a small army of security guards surround him, Khalil places his sword on the floor and meditates so that he and Painkiller can talk. Painkiller believes that Khalil is trying to get rid of him. Khalil tells him he’ll always be a part of him. If things go bad, he wants to unleash Painkiller. He agrees and Khalil breaks his trance and begins to fight the guards. As more guards show up, Khalil unleashes Painkiller on them. While this fight is going on, Maya is at her headquarters watching the carnage, she orders her people not to kill Khalil, she wants him brought alive. Once she sees they aren’t winning this fight, she puts the facility on self-destruct. Meanwhile Grace is fighting her captors. She and Painkiller meet in the hallway. Anissa convinces Donald to take her to Grace so she can rescue her. It turns out Grace really didn’t need Khalil or Anissa to save her, she was capable of doing it herself. Painkiller tells Grace to get out while he stays to get the tech needed to help Khalil. In reality Painkiller is tired and just wants to die in the facility. He’s suffering too, he remembers killing their mother. Khalil talks him out of it and promises his alter ego that he’ll find a way for them to live in peace. They get out before the building explodes.
“It seems like anything that brings me joy just brings the dark side out of me.” Khalil Payne
Back at Khalil’s bar, he and Anissa talk. He makes her promise not to tell Jennifer where he is. She promises, and encourages him to get in the superhero gig, he’ll be good at it. He thinks he just might. He talks to Donald and Philky after Anissa leaves with Grace, they can see how powerful and dangerous that Maya is, but they will defend Akashic Valley from her. They don’t know just how dangerous she is, because she calls her still alive father, Percy Odell (Bill Duke).
Anissa and Grace go to Akashic Valley for their honeymoon. They don’t know that Khalil lives there now. He has a setup like Gambi in his bar, and a former ASA agent as his tech. When he sees Anissa, he tries to kill her because of the kill command the ASA placed in his head to kill the Pierces. He’s able to convince Painkiller not to kill her. Some goons who work for Maya Odell kidnap Grace. She is kidnapping people to use their brains for nefarious purposes. Philky believes the tech Maya is using will help him remove the kill commands. While rescuing Grace, he plans to retrieve Maya’s tech. He arrives just after Grace has freed herself. He fails to take the tech. Now he’s on Maya’s radar, but she’s on his radar too.
This episode is what they call a back door pilot. It’s an episode during the season that takes one of the show’s characters and introduces the audience to that character’s show. The only characters from Black Lightning in this episode were Khalil, Anissa, Grace, and a surprise appearance from Agent Odell. Akashic Valley is aesthetically different from Freeland, it’s a futuristic city like Hong Kong, Shanghai or Dubai. It reminds you of something you’d see in Blade Runner. The episode introduced Khalil’s supporting cast of Philky, the tech guy, Donald, the medic and spiritual guy, and Wo Man, an arms dealer and maybe their connection to the underworld. Their big bad appears to be Maya Odell. I would imagine one of the big features of the series will be Khalil trying to get the kill command out of his head and creating a detente between himself and Painkiller. Khalil will have to deal with his duality and find a healthy way to integrate Painkiller into his personality. It was a good episode, the setting looked different, and the action was good. The best action scene was Khalil wiping out a small army of security guards. Jordan Calloway looks like he’s doing the bulk of his fight scenes, so it looks good. I believe Jordan can carry his own show. If the CW greenlights it, I’ll watch it.
One thing it shares with its parent show is the music. It’s going to be a big part of the show too.
“The Other Lover” Little Dragon & Moses Sumney
“Searching for Captain Save a Hoe” Fantastic Negrito feat. E-40
“Parade” Jacob Banks
“In the Pines (Oakland)” Fantastic Negrito
“Virile” Moses Sumney
“Break You Down” Georgia Anne Muldrow
“Plastic Hamburgers” Fantastic Negrito
“Shine a Light” Shabazz Palaces feat. Thaddillac
“The Healing Song” Dominique Fils -Aimé