This latest Black Lightning arc has been the most ironic so far. I don’t mean “irony” in the sense that the word is usually tossed around these days to refer to a certain brand of postmodern internet humor. I mean it in the classical sense of dramatic irony, where we viewers know something that the characters don’t. As Jennifer Pierce continues to run away from home, there’s a lot of irony in us knowing what she’s up to while her parents have no idea — and this irony causes a lot of grief. No wonder the episode is titled “Gift of the Magi,” in reference to that most famous of ironic O. Henry stories.
Lynn is, in fact, so distraught over her daughter’s ongoing absence that she now refuses to take calls from her husband, since he doesn’t have any clear information. Still one step behind Jennifer even after saving her from Cutter, all Jefferson and Anissa can do is guess what happened in Khalil’s aunt’s house, and whose blood that is on the floor. So Lynn decides to take matters into her own hands and do some investigating of her own.
First, Lynn stops by Khalil’s mom’s house. This worried me initially since we know Khalil’s mom has been in contact with Tobias, but she has bigger things to worry about right now. We learn that Khalil had a brother who was killed while dealing drugs for the One Hundred. With one son dead and the other on the run, she doesn’t feel like much of a mother. Lynn comforts her and, more importantly, gets information on Khalil’s absentee father, who Lynn thinks might have some clue as to her daughter’s whereabouts.
Khalil’s mom has nothing good to say about his dad, but he seems perfectly nice when Lynn finally tracks him down. He wants to help find his son, whom he seems to care for — he says he told Khalil to stay away from Tobias, but obviously that advice went unheeded. Dad does know that Khalil had a secret apartment (he wasn’t just living with Tobias). He doesn’t know the address, but Lynn is ready to go looking. Since we already know where Jennifer and Khalil are, I have a bad feeling that Lynn’s useless search is gonna land her in real trouble at some point.
It hasn’t happened yet though, and one reason Tobias doesn’t interfere in Lynn’s investigation is that he’s too busy pulling another young recruit into his fold. After a boy genius named Todd gets rejected for a federal grant in favor of some rich white donor’s son, Tobias invites him to the club for a chat. After demonstrating his wealth by dropping $100,000 into the kid’s bank account at the drop of a hat, Tobias successfully recruits another lost boy.
NEXT: There’s always an antidote
While Lynn is frustrated at getting hardly any information, Jefferson Pierce is even more frustrated that he keeps ending up so close and yet so far from his daughter. He and Anissa wind up in a hospital mere minutes after Jennifer uses her powers to raid the same hospital for medical supplies. They see the scorch marks and know it’s her, but are too late to catch her. This continues to frustrate Black Lightning, who is personally enraged that he can’t find his daughter even though she’s a generator and he’s powered by electricity.
But Jennifer, it turns out, can take care of herself. When the medicine fails to heal Khalil, Jennifer realizes that Cutter’s blades must have been poisoned (Oberyn Martell would be proud, even if she uses knives instead of spears). Going outside to clear her head, Jennifer transports herself to the mind palace where she usually has therapy sessions with Perenna. There she sees an alternate version of herself; together, they realize that Cutter is watching her from the woods, and what they need to do about it. After using her powers to disable Cutter, Jennifer ties up her pursuer and threatens to use the hunter’s own poison knives on her. For being in such close proximity to poison, this woman must carry an antidote right? To find out for sure, Jennifer cuts Cutter’s face with one of the blades, forcing her to reveal the antidote is in her necklace. Jennifer takes it and kicks Cutter in the face.
After he’s cured, Khalil tries to convince Jennifer that she should go back to her family. After seeing Lynn and Jefferson unravel over the course of this episode, I’m inclined to agree with him. But Jennifer is not — she says she can take care of herself, which I’m also inclined to agree with, and refuses to go back. As they drive away, the camera flips upside down, which really reminded me of the scene in Black Panther when Killmonger ascends the Wakandan throne. The world turned upside down…
In the closing minutes, we get a glimpse of someone who might soon turn Freeland upside down in a different way: A man whose cool coat and teleporting abilities allow him to kill an entire bar’s worth of people. Now he’s on his way to Freeland, and that can’t possibly be good.