“Fight now, mourn later.” Peter Gambi
The family gathers at the Sanctum with the photo of Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) on the monitors that JJ/Lightning (Laura Kariuki) received from Tobias. Everyone is in shock, Peter Gambi (James Remar) says the photo isn’t doctored. Anissa/Thunder (Nafessa Williams) is ready to fight but she states that they need their powers back. Gambi agrees, they need to take out the emitter. Grace Choi/Wylde (Chantal Thuy) wonders how they will get past the Meta Task Force. Lynn (Christine Adams) tells everyone that Looker is clearing her and Jefferson as she speaks, Detective Shakur will make sure they aren’t a problem. TC (Christopher Ammanuel) reminds everyone that Tobias and his men are out there with DEGs too. Anissa doesn’t care, Tobias killed her father and is destroying Freeland, Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III) is going down.
Mayor Tobias Whale is giving a press conference, telling Freeland he has taken care of the gangs and metas, he declares, “Let’s Make Freeland Great Again!” Detective Hassan Shakur (Wallace Smith) watches the press conference in disbelief. He breaks into Chief Ana Lopez’s (Melissa De Sousa) office and finds a used bottle of meta booster and a syringe on her desk. He looks in the container the meta boosters were in and tries to contact Jefferson. He leaves a message stating Lopez injected herself with the power to absorb energy. He should look out for her, Lopez is tripping. Jefferson doesn’t receive the message because he’s buried alive.
Gambi has located the emitter, unfortunately it’s in Tori’s Mausoleum which is in an industrial park protected by Drakestone Security. It’s like Blackwater except with better equipment. They have the newest DEGs. Anissa doesn’t care, but Grace reminds her you can’t get revenge if you’re dead. Anissa agrees and asks for a plan. TC asks where’s Jennifer. She is back in the ionosphere to recharge. A mass of particles grabs her. She escapes and makes it back to the Sanctum, but she’s wobbly. Lynn lectures her, telling JJ that her excursions to the ionosphere are making her unstable. She wants to run more tests; when she leaves the room, JJ wants to hit the tunnels with TC. The particles in the ionosphere begin to form a face.
Jefferson thinks about what Tobias told him while he was kicking his arse. He screams at Tobias in frustration. Jefferson thinks about an incident from 30 years ago. Teen Jefferson (Kaden Washington Lewis) killed a 100-gang member who was trying to kill him. Gambi is digging the gang member’s grave. Teen Jeff feels guilty; he doesn’t want these powers. Gambi promises to teach him how to control his powers, how to use them for good. He asks Teen Jeff not to give up, his powers can give Freeland hope. Teen Jeff just needs a code. Back up in the ionosphere the particles reform, it’s OG Jennifer Pierce/Lightning (China Anne McClain). She heads back down to Earth. JJ is in the tunnels with TC and she’s acting strange. She gets a severe headache. Jennifer appears in the tunnel. TC is shocked, JJ is annoyed, she thought she had killed her. Jennifer, “Nah, you jacked my DNA. Stole my life and left me for dead. But I’ve been in your head the whole time, baby. Now I’m back!”
“I saw you comin’ and goin’ as you please. Both flesh and energy. And I hated you.” JJ/Lightning
Anissa, Grace, and Gambi are at Tori’s mausoleum, to help Gambi get to the emitter, Anissa sets a guard on fire. The two women engage in hand-to-hand combat with the Drakestone guards and quickly put them down. The commotion allows Gambi to get to the emitter and blow it up. Drakestone guards surround him, but with their powers back, Wylde/Thunder easily take out the guards. [Aren’t these dudes supposed to be badass.] Meanwhile back in the tunnels, Jennifer smiles, she’s ready to take down JJ. The two Lightnings begin to fight, TC tries to help Jennifer, but JJ knocks him out with a lightning strike. This angers Jennifer and the fight intensifies. Jennifer takes a minute to ask JJ some questions. JJ explains that she lives in the glaze, which we call the ionosphere. She saw Jennifer go back and forth, both flesh and energy. She hated Jennifer for it and got closer and closer to Jennifer until she was able to absorb her memories and DNA. She now has a body, along with Jennifer’s memories and family. She isn’t giving it up. Jennifer tells her that none of this gives JJ the right to take her life. JJ tries to absorb Jennifer’s power. Jefferson begins to pray, asking God to protect his family and city. Jefferson prays that he’s worthy to be received into God’s kingdom.
An army of guards show up outside the mausoleum. Thunder creates a wave to knock them down, but she is still struck by some of the DEGs. Grace and Gambi carry her out of there. Jennifer lays on the ground having flashbacks on her life. Jefferson is doing the same, except he’s remembering Tobias killing his father. Now Jefferson is sitting on the porch with his father, Alvin Pierce (Keith Arthur Bolden), both as an adult and teen. His father is proud of Jefferson, he’s proud of the code he developed after the killed the 100-gang member. Jefferson felt shame after he killed the gang member in self-defense, Tobias doesn’t feel shame, that’s why Jefferson could never become Tobias and why he’s a better man. Jefferson tells Alvin he tried to beat Tobias but failed, Tobias killed him. He didn’t have what it took to beat him. Alvin tells him he has what he needs to beat Tobias. Alvin: “No more hiding under the bed son. In order to accomplish what you’ve never done; you have to use what you never have. So go get it, and get it done.”
Specialist Cabera (Amanda Tavarez) calls for Detective Shakur. Chief Lopez was caught on a security camera at the power grid absorbing electricity. She’ll black out the city. Shakur orders Cabera to come with him, she reminds him she’s a tech, he tells her to grab her gun and badge, they are going to stop her. Jefferson wakes up, he remembers what his father said, and he draws power underground from the promethium. He burst out of his grave as Black Lightning. Gambi and Grace bring Anissa back to the Sanctum. Black Lightning is flying above the city and contacts his family. They are relieved and grateful he’s still alive. He asks where Tobias is and flies towards Tori Towers. When the Meta Task Force arrives at the power grid, a deranged Lopez is draining the power. Shakur asks her to stop, when she realizes it’s her task force that has rolled up on her, she attacks them. JJ tells Jennifer her time is up, Jennifer smiles and tells her it isn’t, she hits JJ with a massive lightning strike. Jennifer lights her body on fire and absorbs JJ.
“Always known I’d give my life for that girl. Never thought I’d have to forget her.” Khalil Payne/Painkiller
Chief Lopez is having fun with her new powers, but Lightning appears. Lopez calls Lightning a bitch, but after their brief fight, Lightning makes Lopez her bitch. Black Lightning bursts into Tobias’s penthouse. He’s surprised to see Jefferson and taunts him as usual. Black Lightning isn’t there to play and opens a can of whup ass on Tobias. After they tear up the room, Black Lightning hits Tobias with a blast of lightning, knocking him out the window causing Tobias to land on a pole. Even though he’s got a pole speared through him, he still tries to shoot Black Lightning, one last lightning strike finishes him off. The serum that was keeping him young leaves his body and he dies an old man.
TC contacts Khalil Payne/Painkiller (Jordan Calloway) and enters his mind. Naturally, Painkiller wants to kick his arse. Khalil tells his alter ego that he invited TC, he promises to kick Khalil’s arse too. TC tells them he has some good news to report. First, Tobias is dead. Painkiller is disappointed, he wanted to kill him. Khalil asks what the other news is. TC tells him he has isolated the system code for the kill order. He can free him. There is a catch though. The kill order is linked to everything he knows and loves about the Pierce family. TC: “If you break the kill order, you won’t remember the Pierces at all.” Painkiller doesn’t care, he wants the kill order removed, he doesn’t like being anyone’s puppet. Khalil asks if there is another way, TC is afraid there isn’t. Painkiller promises Khalil that if the kill order isn’t taken away, he will kill the Pierces. To protect Jennifer, Khalil agrees to the process.
Wearing formal wear, the family is celebrating their victory and Anissa and Grace’s wedding at their loft. Lynn apologizes to Gambi for blaming him for Jefferson being Black Lightning. She thanks him for loving the family so much. They look over at Anissa and Grace and he compliments Lynn for the good job she did. Jennifer is out on the balcony by herself. TC joins her, he plans on telling her about Khalil, but Jennifer can tell he has some bad news to tell her so she tells him she doesn’t want to hear it now. He instead tells her how glad he is that she’s really back this time. Jennifer is a little upset that only her father knew JJ wasn’t her. TC apologizes but Jennifer cuts him off, she understands why everyone thought JJ was her, she’ll just have to accept it. Right now, she just wants to be. Jennifer goes back inside, both Anissa and Grace apologize for not recognizing that JJ was fake. Gambi also apologizes. Jennifer admits it was her fault for going up there. Her mood brightens as she listens to the music and dances in her seat, Jennifer is ready to party now.
“To Anissa and Grace, may your lives be filled with love and joy…and justice. By any means necessary.” Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning
Jefferson and Lynn come out of the kitchen and announce that they are going to remarry. While he was in his coffin, he realized he had some regrets and wanted to rectify them if he got a chance. After being in therapy and thinking that Jefferson was dead, Lynn realized that her place was to be by his side and him to be by her side. Jefferson announces his superhero retirement, which Anissa scoffs at, but he tells them he is handing over his duties to Lightning, Thunder, and Wylde. Gambi joins in and says he’s hanging it up too, TC can handle his old duties. Both men say they’ll be around to help if needed. Jefferson makes a toast to the newlyweds. We fade out to Tobias’s place. Lala (William Catlett) breaks out of his cement prison. He walks to the window and sees Tobias’s dead body speared on the pole and chuckles, “Somebody finally stuck it to your ass.”
Jefferson is buried alive. His father tells him how proud he is of him and to continue fighting. He breaks out of his grave and finally kills Tobias. JJ goes back up to the ionosphere to recharge to fight Tobias, she escapes from a particle cloud, the particle cloud turns out to be Jennifer Pierce. We find out that JJ is evil, and she thought she had killed Jennifer and stolen her life. Jennifer defeats her and regains her life. She also defeats Lopez who went off the deep end and took a meta booster to defeat Lightning. Lopez quickly learns she’s not in Jennifer’s class. Anissa, Grace, and Gambi storm Tori’s mausoleum to destroy the emitter. Tobias has a security company he owns called Drakestone to protect it. Either powerless or fully powerful, Anissa and Grace don’t have a problem taking these guards down. Gambi blows up the emitter and the metas of Freeland have their powers back. TC informs Khalil he must lose his memory of Jennifer and the rest of the Pierce family to free himself from the kill order. Painkiller is all for it, he doesn’t like being under the control of the kill order. He warns Khalil he will kill the Pierces if he doesn’t do it. Out of his love for Jennifer, he loses his memory of her to protect her. The family celebrates their victory and Anissa and Grace’s wedding. Jennifer feels funny that only her dad sensed that JJ wasn’t her, but she finally admits she caused this herself by continually going to the ionosphere. She understands why everyone thought JJ was her. Jefferson and Lynn announce they are going to remarry. Jefferson is also retiring from the superhero business and leaving Freeland’s protection to Lightning, and Wylde/Thunder. Gambi adds that he’s retiring too, confident that TC can take his place. The torch is passed, the new generation is in charge now.
The family is distraught that Jefferson is dead, but they don’t have time to mourn, they must defeat Tobias to protect Freeland and avenge Jefferson. Everything moved quickly, since the episode had so much to cover, it felt rushed at times. We learn that JJ isn’t Jennifer and that she’s evil, even though we never got any indication she’s evil before. The show had left hints that she might not be Jennifer, but never that she was evil. They threw a big obstacle in Drakestone protecting the emitter, but it turns out they weren’t that big of an obstacle after all. Lopez has taken a meta booster to kill Lightning, but it only takes Lightning a few seconds to put her down. Basically, the episode was by the number, they had to have the Pierce family be triumphant in the end. I didn’t have a problem with that, like most of the audience I wanted to see the Pierces win in the end. The only big surprise in the episode, JJ being evil wasn’t developed, so it had not real impact on me. It was a good episode, not special, but fortunately it wasn’t terrible. It didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth like a few other series finales have. There were good scenes, like Jefferson and teen Jefferson on the porch with Alvin. The other stand out scene was Khalil sacrificing his memory of Jennifer out of love. All the fight scenes were anticlimactic. I was expecting the final fight between Jefferson and Tobias to carry a lot of emotions, but it felt like a regular fight. I remember the fight between the two during the season two finale, it was cathartic seeing Black Lightning defeat Tobias. I wanted to feel that for this fight. I wanted more but I’m satisfied with what they delivered.
Considering everything they went through this season; the cast and crew of Black Lightning delivered a strong season. I’m sure the stories the show’s producers had planned for this season had to be changed due to the pandemic and China Anne McClain leaving the show. The show did a good job examining the trauma the family had to deal with after ASA occupation and the war with Markovia. Jefferson was in a bad place after losing his best friend, blaming being Black Lightning for all the bad things that have happened in his life and to his family. Lynn was struggling with her addictions and feeling like an outsider in her family. Then you add the complication of JJ, and those two nearly broke. Both Cress Williams and Christine Adams gave great performances this season. The one thing I missed was the citizens of Freeland being more involved in the storylines. That was always one of the show’s greatest strengths. They were the life and vitality of the show. The people of Freeland showed why it was so important to the Pierces to protect the city. I really missed Bill Henderson, the students and faculty of Garfield High, the members of the resistance, Rev. Holt and the church, and various other members of the community. Freeland wasn’t as big a character as it had in previous seasons. Having Jefferson and Lynn going to therapy was a great idea for characters in a superhero show. How many times have you thought the Avengers should be going to therapy? They might have defeated Thanos before the snap if they had their heads on straight. More importantly, it was important to have black people going to therapy and showing it being helpful. We must take mental health more seriously. The season also put a major emphasize on Khalil to help get him a spinoff series. We found out that the WB isn’t going to pickup his series. That’s a shame because they made me want a Painkiller series. His backdoor pilot was good, but the fight scenes he had throughout the season were fantastic. In a way, putting so much emphasize on his fight scenes took away from the other characters fight scenes. In seasons past, Anissa had some great fight scenes, but none of her fight scenes this season were as good. I guess your budget can only go so far. The added some storylines that didn’t go anywhere, like the Shadow Board and Gambi’s relationship with Lauren. I was surprised she wasn’t in the final scene with the family. His relationship with her should have been one of the reasons he’s retiring. Overall, it was a good season, and everyone involved with the show should be congratulated for the work they put into it.
Black Lightning the series and the character will also have a special place in my heart. The thing I loved about it the most was the show was unapologetically black. These were people I’ve met and known in my life. They showed different facets of the black community, from folks in the hood to a successful middle-class family like the Pierces. We saw the horrific things this country does to us, but it also showed the joy we have in our families and our communities. You could tell this was a show run by black people who had something to say and used the framework of a superhero show to examine our lives. I appreciate that, and wish they had a couple of more seasons to do this. That’s not to be, but I’m glad we got the four seasons we received. Thanks again to everyone involved with Black Lightning, I hope all of you continue to be successful in the future. No matter what you do in the future, you should always be proud of what you did on this show.
One of my favorite parts of Black Lightning was the music. Starting with the first episode, it was an important part of the show. The music always ranged from good to excellent. I was introduced to music and artists I hadn’t known before. They also played some of my favorite songs from my youth. They didn’t just do hip hop and R&B like most black shows would do, they used other genres like the blues, gospel, jazz, classical music, and even a little country. This summer I’m going to go back to some of my older recaps to check out the music we posted. I might even read some of my recaps and reviews, it’s always fun to catch spelling and grammatical errors after it’s published.
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart Al Green
Here but I’m Gone Curtis Mayfield
They Say I’m Different Betty Davis
Stranger (Live Inna Benz) Jacob Banks
Like a Ship T.L. Barrett
A Brand New Me Aretha Franklin
Move on Up Curtis Mayfield