Black Lightning recap: Lala Land
Lala is back! Remember Lala? It’s been a while since we’ve seen him, but now the Tattooed Man is back in our lives.
He immediately makes for Garfield High, where he finds Jefferson Pierce working alone. Now here I was thinking that Principal Lowry had made a big deal about installing all kinds of new security measures at the school, but clearly, Lala was able to waltz right on in with a pistol. He finds Jefferson, shoots him in the shoulder (again, no alarms?) and demands to know what happened to his friend Earl. Jefferson is the one who found Earl’s body, grotesquely hung in the school’s basketball hoop, and so Lala hopes he can explain what happened. Lala’s tattoos are causing him trouble again, and apparently, he won’t be at peace until he reckons with his memories of his dead friend.
Eventually, Jefferson and Lala are able to piece things together. Earl and Lala had worked together as kids selling drugs for the One Hundred, but then as they were about to graduate, Earl decided to leave the game. Jefferson acknowledges that he was the one who convinced Earl to go to the police and tell them the truth about the One Hundred. Given what we know about Tobias’ infiltration of the Freeland Police Department, Jefferson starts to worry that this is what got Earl killed.
The truth, however, is even more unsettling than that. Eventually, Lala recovers enough of his memories to remember that he was the one who killed Earl. His loyalty and friendship got twisted into not wanting anyone other than him to be the one to kill Earl. But most of all, he did it to earn Tobias’ favor. When a shaken Jefferson asks why he hung Earl in the hoop, Lala replies, “Because I didn’t want to be poor no more.” He saw Tobias as his ticket to wealth and success, and he was right — for a while. Since then, he’s been killed by Tobias not once but twice.
Towards the end of the episode, we get a flashback to Lala’s latest resurrection two months ago. We see some kind of mad scientist pouring Lala’s entrails into a tub of blue liquid until his whole body slowly reforms. I really want to know more about whatever’s going on here, but clearly, that will have to wait. The doctor told him to untangle a knot related to Earl and Jefferson, which sent him to Garfield. But now Lala understands what he really has to do in order to be at peace with himself: Kill Tobias.
NEXT: Who is Grace Choi, really?
This season has been a little disjointed so far, but now things are starting to clarify, and we’re seeing who the real villains are. Agent Odell, previously little more than a rude presence at the ASA, really levels up his villainy in this episode. First, he tells Lynn to stop coddling Wendy the wind girl. In Odell’s eyes, this traumatized girl is not a human being to be comforted, but rather a dog to be trained for specific tasks. He sees her as a valuable tool. When Lynn protests, Odell locks her out of the security system and starts pushing Wendy’s powers farther than ever, even at the risk of damage.
The storyline between Anissa and Grace Choi also levels up a notch this episode. Desperate to find answers about her crush, Anissa has Gambi track down Grace’s last-known address. But when Anissa knocks on the door, she finds an older man standing there. Little does she know that when the door’s closed, the old man transforms into Grace. This is a break from the comics, where Grace Choi’s powers involved super strength and invulnerability. Here, she’s some kind of shapeshifter, albeit one skilled at combat. When Anissa returns in full Thunder regalia, she ends up fighting the disguised Grace. After she wins, Grace’s identity is revealed. Anissa doesn’t know what to make of that.
We end with the revelation that Odell isn’t messing around. Via some well-placed satellites and well-trained subordinates, Odell learns the Pierce family’s big secret. After confirming that the knowledge is limited to everyone in the room with him, he…executes everyone in the room with him. It’ll take a little longer to find out exactly what game he’s playing, but man I am so thankful for Bill Duke’s presence on the show this season. He improves every scene he’s in, and if he has a big part in the rest of the season rather than just flitting in and out of the show at random, so much the better.