Everything else in Freeland just keeps getting weirder
A few weeks ago, we learned from Gambi that a government organization called the ASA had experimented on the citizens of Freeland, feeding them chemicals that were meant to keep them docile in the wake of ‘60s political uprisings but that actually ended up manifesting superpowers in a select few. Gambi was tasked with scouting for superpowered kids until he had a change of heart, raising and training Black Lightning as a form of redemption. This week on Black Lightning, we confirm that the ASA is still conducting superpowered experiments with Freeland kids (just as real-life government organizations are still pursuing black political activists with the same fervor they did in the ‘60s).
But that’s not all. In addition to kidnapping new kids for experimentation (as witnessed by our old friend Two-Bits), ASA has somehow kept all the people they experimented on last time. They’re keeping them in stasis pods of some kind, which Anissa Pierce discovers when she follows Gambi’s tip. On her own, Anissa is too overwhelmed to do anything, so she runs home and tells her father. Jefferson still bristles at any mention of Gambi but agrees to suit up and follow Anissa.
Naturally, the pods are gone by the time Black Lightning and Thunder return to the warehouse, but there are plenty of ASA henchmen lying in wait for them. The two superheroes show off their ever-improving teamwork skills, with Black Lightning forming a defensive lightning shield as his daughter attacks with a quake stomp. They make it out alive.
Speaking of people who made it out alive, this episode spends a surprising amount of time with the resurrected LaLa, who has taken over leadership of the One Hundred in light of Tobias’ absence. Death has made LaLa weirder, but no less violent. When One Hundred lackeys object to his plan of returning to selling coke and weed instead of the much more popular (but now defunct) Green Light, LaLa doesn’t hesitate to kill them and/or rip off their ears. Lawanda was the first of LaLa’s victims to come to him as a ghost, but now she’s been succeeded by Will, whom you may remember from way back in the first episode when he kidnapped Jennifer and Anissa before getting shot by LaLa. Lawanda manifested as a tattoo on the left side of LaLa’s chest, and now a ghost-tattoo of Will occupies the right side. Can’t wait to find out exactly what the hell is going on with this guy.
He’s not even the only mystery here. It looks like it’s going to take the Pierce family a while to figure out what’s going on with Jennifer. When provoked by Anissa, Jennifer proves that her powers are very similar to her father’s in the manifestation of external energy. But when Lynn looks at her under a microscope, she finds something alarming: Jennifer’s cells are pure energy. She’s a literal generator. (Recap continues on page 2)
Jefferson Pierce is still mad at Gambi for lying to him his whole life, but it will probably be harder for viewers to look down on Gambi after this episode. After Black Lightning raided the ASA compound, it didn’t take Martin Proctor long to put two and two together…well, actually, he doesn’t quite have the whole thing figured out yet, but he knows for a fact that Gambi has some way of contacting Black Lightning. So, he and some ASA goons kidnap Gambi — which they’re only able to do by threatening to start shooting at random people on the street, indicating that Gambi isn’t motivated solely by making up his debt to the Pierce family but is concerned about all innocent life.
Once they have him at some black site, ASA goons give Gambi the full CIA torture treatment, complete with waterboarding. But he still isn’t talking, so Proctor tries a different tack: How about we call in Jefferson Pierce, the man you helped raise as your own, and see if threatening him will make you talk? As you might guess, this leads to a very unintentionally funny scene.
The ASA finds Jefferson mentoring a troubled young student on the weekend. After assigning the kid some Langston Hughes poems and sending him away, Jefferson follows them to where they’re keeping Gambi. That leaves Martin Proctor to issue an extremely hilarious ultimatum: If you don’t tell us who Black Lightning is, we’ll kill Jefferson Pierce!
Gambi and Jefferson barely need to make eye contact before launching into action. Jefferson uses his powers to take out the lights, giving Gambi the opening to launch forward, take one of the goons’ guns, and shoot them both. Jefferson takes Gambi back to the Black Lightning Cave to recuperate, while Gambi tells him to find the person currently occupying Gambi’s old position as a superhero scout for the ASA. Finding that person will be the best way to find where the kidnap victims have been taken.
Unfortunately for Jefferson, the person in question is…Garfield High’s vice principal, his second in command! This is a character we haven’t seen in a while (hence her inclusion in this week’s “previously on Black Lightning” montage), but I just love that this show does not waste a single character. Whether it’s her or LaLa’s early murder victims, I love how characters keep coming back to further enhance the show. And boy oh boy, I can’t wait for Martin Proctor to get a well-deserved superpowered beatdown.