So is Gambi dead or not?
That’s the main question I have after watching tonight’s episode. To be sure, the opening scene finds Freeland’s favorite tailor (“the only white guy in Freeland other than the cops,” as one character later describes him) stuck in a car chase with some mean-looking dudes who look like they want to hurt him. In fact, they’re packing machine guns to do just that. Their superior firepower is overwhelming, and all Gambi can do is try to weave in and out of traffic as his car’s computer tells him that “structural integrity” is failing. Eventually, it fails all the way, and Gambi’s car tips over before becoming engulfed in flames.
It doesn’t take long for the news to spread. Henderson even stops by the Pierce home to tell Jefferson himself. Jefferson, while shocked and horrified by the news, is nevertheless reluctant to believe his mentor is gone since there’s no body. Henderson assures him that no one was seen getting out of the car before it capsized, and the police will soon be swabbing the wreck for DNA. But I have to say, I’m with Jefferson here. After all, the computer updates about “structural integrity” really reminded me of Nick Fury’s similar car-themed assassination in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which as we all know was ultimately revealed to be fake — and that time there even was a body! I may end up eating my words here, but trust me, folks, I’ve been reading and watching superhero stories for basically my whole life, and if there’s not a body, they’re almost certainly not dead.
Nevertheless, the episode carries on as if Gambi is indeed gone. Anissa, for one, certainly believes it. She’s the one who breaks the news to Jennifer, who she finds smoking weed on the roof to help calm her nerves and control her powers — who knew superheroes needed medical marijuana too? Jennifer is equally saddened by the news, but Anissa needs a little more than sisterly love to process the trauma. She heads over to Grace Choi’s apartment, and it doesn’t take long before they’re hooking up. It’s a sexy scene, but Grace isn’t feeling it in the morning. She tells Anissa that she doesn’t just want to be a go-to hook-up when Anissa’s feeling vulnerable and then get abandoned as soon as everything’s working again. Anissa tries to protest, but there are other things on Grace’s mind anyway — namely, her own burgeoning superpowers! We see Grace desperately swallowing pills as her arms start to ripple with unusual energy. She doesn’t break a sink like Anissa did way back in the pilot, so it’s unclear what exactly her powers are. But maybe they have something to do with her tattoos, like Lala last season?
NEXT: Thank you for always being there
Jefferson is not handling Gambi’s disappearance and/or death very well. When Lynn tries to surprise him by gifting him Gambi’s pocket watch, assuming he wants it, Jefferson reacts harshly, saying that it’s Gambi’s and belongs at his house.
Before he gets there, though, Jefferson ends up at a bar with Henderson. It doesn’t go great. Jefferson tries to drown his sorrows in drink, but clearly he’s not a guy who drinks very much. He’s soon tipsy and slurring his words, and can’t help himself from getting into a bar fight after he sees a guy harassing a woman. Even without his suit or powers, Jefferson manages to beat the guy senseless, but Henderson warns him it could’ve gone much worse, and he has to be careful.
At night, Jefferson comes back to the bar, but in full Black Lightning regalia this time. He asks our old friend Two-Bits if he knows anything about the attack on Gambi. Two-Bits confirms that it was indeed a hit, not just an attack, and that it was government operatives who did it rather than any local crooks. Before Jefferson has time to look into that, though, he pays a visit to Gambi’s workshop, where he breaks down crying at the sight of the pocket watch he once gave his mentor. It’s inscribed “Gambi, thank you for always being there” and contains a photo of the two of them in younger days. This is way sadder than I expected! Gambi better not be dead for real!
Lynn, meanwhile, has her own problems. She thinks she’s figured out a formula to save the pod kids, but she doesn’t want to test it for fear of accidentally killing them. Dr. Jace provides her with a solution: Treat the kids not as individuals, but as a collective unit, and up the dosage by a factor of 28 in order to stave off cellular degeneration. Would it surprise you to know that Dr. Jace was not exactly telling the truth? When Lynn implements her plan, she’s horrified to see some of the kids start to die as their pod lights turn from green to red. Jace reveals that under this plan, 14 of the kids will survive but the rest will die, which is better than all of them dying from inaction. Lynn orders Jace taken away. This is a good step towards spicing up this storyline, which it desperately needs; it’s hard for me to care about the pod kids since they’re not really characters, and Jace’s crazy-woman shtick is getting old.
Also, Anissa tries heading to South Freeland to check up on a pregnant woman she met at the clinic. She’s stopped by a white sheriff, who’s intimidating enough on his own, but then his skin starts rippling and quicksilver figures start darting back and forth. Anissa turns around and heads back where she came from, but I’m sure we’ll find out what this is all about soon enough…
- Black Lightning season premiere recap: Freeland is changing
- Black Lightning recap: Confronting those deep, dark truths
- EW’s Fall TV comics reading guide