Black Lightning recap: 'Black Jesus: The Book of Crucifixion'
Just a few days after Easter, Black Lightning has hit us with its own crucifixion story. This week’s episode title bills itself as the “Book of Crucifixion,” and it sure delivers with a story of public humiliation and damage for Freeland’s own “Black Jesus.” Coming off the revelation that Garfield High vice principal Kara Fowdy is the ASA’s new talent scout, it was only a matter of time before she was pitted against her day job boss Jefferson Pierce. It doesn’t take her long to initiate an evil scheme. Right after Black Lightning and Thunder destroy another ASA stash spot (blowing up a bunch of anti-Black Lightning weaponry but unfortunately unable to find any of the missing kids), Kara launches her own anti-Black Lightning scheme. She instructs Deputy Chief Cayman, the corrupt mustachioed white guy at the top of Freeland PD, to plant Green Light on Jefferson Pierce and arrest him.
It doesn’t take long for the plan to go into action. The Pierce daughters finally return to Garfield High, but the day gets ruined for them when cops swarm the campus to turn Jefferson’s car and office inside out. Cayman’s white detective sidekick plants Green Light in Jefferson’s car and then suddenly “discovers” it shortly after; it’d be laughable if it wasn’t so similar to some real-life stories of interactions with the police. The students of Garfield certainly recognize Jefferson’s set-up for what it is. They don’t know about the superhero or government conspiracy angle; they just see white police dragging away another one of their fathers and community leaders. Like Jesus telling his disciples to put down the swords they drew in his defense, Jefferson spends his perp walk imploring students (including the superpowered Jennifer) to stay calm and protect themselves. Jennifer is still getting used to this whole superpower thing, but she knows what can happen to black people who disappear into the bowels of the security-police apparatus. She’s worried, but keeps her powers in check for now.
Inspector Henderson can also tell something’s fishy when Cayman and his crew bring Jefferson to police headquarters. Henderson demands to see Cayman’s warrant, so they have a closed-door meeting to go over it. Neither of them believes the warrant is righteous for a second, but it appears the i’s have indeed been dotted and the t’s crossed, so there’s not a lot Henderson can do for now. He knows firsthand that Cayman is corrupt, having photographed him doing weird arms deals with ASA operatives, but he can’t prove it yet. He and Cayman exchange a few looks that clarify they each see the other as an enemy. (Recap continues on next page)
The cops certainly do their best to make the arrest ordeal as humiliating as possible for Jefferson. Within the station, they constantly bump into walls, insist on cuffing him tightly, and give him a physical inspection in the most demeaning way possible. The way they go about it makes it seem like this is just standard procedure for them — which, of course, it is.
Anissa and Gambi both want to get Jefferson out of jail, but Gambi knows that a superpowered breakout would just make things worse, so he comes up with a different plan: convince the ASA that Jefferson Pierce is not actually Black Lightning. With the help of a self-driving truck and some fancy new technology, he and Anissa are able to construct a realistic hologram of Black Lightning. First, Thunder draws a bunch of attention by walking down the street. Then, with all eyes on her, she breaks into a chase while the holographic Black Lightning materializes beside her. Now everyone in Freeland attests they saw Black Lightning in public while Jefferson Pierce was in prison. Even Kara is convinced! The ASA cancels the planned trip to a black site, and calls off their interest in Jefferson Pierce for now.
This gives Henderson the opening he needs. The inspector has been looking into corruption among his co-workers and finally has Cayman’s sidekick dead to rights for taking massive bribes (enough to buy his son a house, paid in cash). Henderson gets him to admit planting the evidence, which means Jefferson is free to go. When Cayman protests, Henderson’s true plan becomes apparent. He slams Cayman against the wall, using the same aggressive force Cayman likes to deploy on all the poor people who end up in his custody. This is one of the most satisfying turnarounds I’ve ever seen! There’s nothing like good karma. Cayman is arrested, jailed, and stripped of his badge, while Henderson becomes the new deputy chief of Freeland PD and promises an end to over-policing and corruption. That’s a big promise, but after this episode, I am all in on Team Henderson. Let’s hope he and Black Lightning can work together, Batman and Commissioner Gordon style, to make Freeland a safe place for all its citizens.