Black Lightning recap: The strange world of South Freeland
Man, “The Book of Blood: Chapter Two” was a strange episode. I’m not really sure how else to put it. Concepts are either being introduced too quickly for us to understand them, or plot twists are being swept aside before we can even process why we should care, or both at once.
For instance, remember when I bothered to dedicate words last week to the question of whether Gambi was dead or not? This episode wastes no time in showing us that Freeland’s most reliable tailor is alive and well, with hardly a scratch on him. In fact, when we see him for the first time, he’s torturing one of his would-be assassins in the guy’s own kitchen. This poor sucker has just enough time to seriously and unironically explain that he was paid for the hit job in Bitcoin before Gambi shoots him to death in front of his own dogs.
In flashback, we see how Gambi survived: Apparently his car had a secret trapdoor, accessible only through biometric security. Gambi managed to jump through it just as his car took a tumble, with no one apparently being the wiser. Rather than demonstrate his survival to the Pierce family, though, Gambi is lying low for the moment while he figures out exactly why someone was paying cryptocurrency for him to be killed. There’s a fun shoutout to DC Comics continuity while he’s hiding out in a safe house, though: We hear a radio report in the background about a civil war currently underway in Markovia. That fictional Eastern European nation is the homeland of Geo-Force, who often fights alongside Black Lightning in the comic book superhero team known as the Outsiders, and his sister Terra. One reason I caught it is that Markovia and the royal siblings are set to feature heavily in the upcoming season of Young Justice.
So Gambi’s immediate return from ambiguous death is one plot twist that got sped over quickly. Then there’s the death of 14 pod kids, which we saw last week when Dr. Jace tampered with their medical technology without properly informing Lynn of the consequences. This week, Lynn has to break the news to the pod kids’ parents, and it does not go over well. Everyone acts hysterically, and I have to say, it’s hard to properly process since the pod kids aren’t actually characters. We haven’t met any of them, so their departure doesn’t really mean anything to us, and suddenly characters are crying and screaming about it. This is not helped by the frantic shifting back and forth between plotlines necessitated by this episode’s introduction of South Freeland.
NEXT: Welcome to a world of goo
Usually I think Black Lightning does a really good job of balancing superhero zaniness with real-world gravitas, but the balance is not quite in order with this South Freeland story. In pursuit of Anaya, Anissa learns that she hails from the black half of a deeply segregated community. The white half of the town’s population all have superpowers. Do you want to know how they got them? This woman named Looker apparently moved to town 30 years ago and made the white citizens her super-slaves. She has control over a metallic goo (glimpsed last episode), which she gives to them. It grants them powers but also submits them to her; she can use it to kill them at any time, as she does at the top of the episode
Anyway, in a classic Romeo-and-Juliet story, Anaya fell in love with Deacon, a white boy from the other side of the tracks. As we saw last week, Deacon is now dead, and we learn that he was apparently killed by a jealous boy from Anaya’s neighborhood. So now Anaya is single and pregnant, and when she gives birth, she produces twins: one white baby, one black baby. This does not sit well with either side, but eventually Anissa convinces Anaya’s family to help her get the babies to safety in Freeland properly. A miniature race war breaks out between the two factions, and bodies start dropping like flies, though Black Lightning’s timely arrival helps Anissa rescue the white baby. The black baby is caught and delivered to Looker, but she’s not one to settle for less than total control.
Meanwhile, Tobias is continuing his shakedown of Freeland’s local and political institutions. The local pastor rejects the offer he makes through Kwame Parker, so Tobias orders Khalil to kill the man. In doing so, Tobias reveals to Khalil that he was the one who attacked the march last season; in other words, it’s Tobias’ fault that Khalil got paralyzed, not Black Lightning’s. Unfortunately this doesn’t lead Khalil anywhere good, because when he tries to attack Tobias, he gets his clock cleaned. But at least he knows the truth now, and continues to grow closer to Jennifer.