Black Lightning recap: 'The Book of Little Black Lies'
Jennifer tries to process her family's secret while Jefferson and Anissa seek the source of Green Light.
Finally the truth hits home. I’ll admit that the reveal of Jennifer’s powers last week felt a little rushed to me, since we’re still getting acquainted with Anissa’s powers. This week’s episode, however, goes deep on what the revelation of Jennifer’s powers means, both to her and her family.
Anissa knew Jennifer’s powers for what they were pretty much immediately, but the younger sister is still confused. Anissa demonstrates that she has powers too by lifting up Jennifer’s bed, and even reveals that their father is Black Lightning. This is understandably a little too much for Jennifer to take in at once, so she runs down the stairs screaming. When Jefferson comes out to investigate the commotion, Jennifer hits him with Anissa’s revelation, expecting him to laugh it off. When he doesn’t, Jennifer realizes her sister was telling the truth — and, more importantly, that her parents haven’t been telling her the truth for her whole life.
This is one of those Black Lightning episodes in which the superheroics take something of a backseat to familial relationships, but the performances are so powerful that it’s hard to complain. A great moment comes when Lynn tries to comfort Jennifer, who is still upset about the revelations hours later. In Jennifer’s own words, she’s not Anissa. Jennifer doesn’t want to save the world, she just wants to go to prom, and then college, and then get married and have kids — in other words, a normal life, the kind she thought her parents had. She’s mad at her parents for not telling her the truth, but in Lynn’s defense, they never lied, they just withheld the truth like any parents do. They didn’t tell Jennifer about Black Lightning when she was a kid, in case she blurted it out at an inconvenient time (and knowing Jennifer, she almost certainly would have). Then Jefferson hung up the costume for awhile, so it wasn’t worth it. They also didn’t think to warn Jennifer about possibly developing superpowers; since Jefferson didn’t inherit his own powers, they assumed it might be a one-off.
This scene is powerful on its own, but also hits home for me personally because my father is diabetic, and had been assured at the time of my birth that there was little chance of me inheriting the disease — making it an unwelcome surprise for everyone when I was diagnosed with diabetes in high school. It’s hard to tell with these things and kids! I mean that in a literal sense — neither Jennifer nor her mother knows if these superpowers will prevent her from having kids or not. Lynn lets her cry. This girl has been through a lot. (Recap continues on next page)
Meanwhile, Anissa and Jefferson are investigating the source of Green Light. They do The Wire’s Lester Freamon by following the money all the way to City Hall, looking into the records of the company that originally paid off Alvin Pierce (unsuccessfully) to bury his story about the experiments.
Luckily, the Pierces also have a man on the inside. Inspector Henderson has finally gotten sick of the corruption inside his police department and has decided to investigate. He tells Black Lightning that if he ends up dead in an alley, he wants the vigilante to let his family know he wasn’t corrupt. Black Lightning assures him that won’t happen.
So at night, Henderson perches himself on a rooftop while the corrupt white chief of police conducts a shady arms deal with ASA. He tells Black Lightning, who heads to the Green Light lab alongside Anissa.
After episodes and episodes of Anissa trying on different outfits and trying to get the hang of the superhero thing, she’s finally nailed it. She shows up the lab dressed in the black-and-yellow Thunder suit Gambi designed for her (which, ahem, EW debuted before Black Lightning’s premiere). The outfit’s not the only thing she’s got going for her; having learned how to lip-read in order to understand what police were doing during protests, she sees ASA boss Martin Proctor say on the phone that it’s time to move their lab. This is their last chance to destroy the lab, and they make good on it. While Thunder takes out the police chief and his minions, Black Lightning gets to the basement and starts destroying the Green Light chemicals. Proctor’s there, and tries to hold a doctor as a hostage while another armed man sneaks up behind Black Lightning, but Henderson has the vigilante’s back. Proctor fades away into the shadows, but the lab is destroyed — Jefferson and Anissa even get to look cool walking away from it as it explodes.
After all that hooplah, Jefferson heads home to spend a relaxing night watching a movie with Jennifer, but I’m really curious to see the fallout of this lab attack. How will the police department change now that Henderson has acted against his boss? How will Proctor react to such a setback (much less his failure to kill Black Lightning as he promised he could)? We’ll have to wait for next week.