First off, let me say that I’m happy to admit that I’m now eating some of my words from last week. Season 2’s penultimate installment was all over the place, but tonight’s season finale did a good job of bringing enough of the threads together that I’m now satisfied to wait for season 3…especially since the episode ends by presenting a fascinating premise for season 3! But more on that in a bit.
At the top of the episode, we learn more about how dangerous Jennifer’s powers can be. Gambi is the first to arrive on the scene where she’s been brought down by her malfunctioning suit. He manages to revive her, but the brief contact with her radiation knocks Gambi out for a bit. So Jennifer and Thunder bring him back to base while Jefferson and Lynn Pierce go check in on the pod kids. There they find Dr. Jace, and Lynn goes berserk. Seriously, Black Lightning can’t even get a word in edgewise as his wife tackles Jace, punches her repeatedly in the face, and slams her head on the ground. Jace barters for her freedom, offering Lynn technology capable of tracking the briefcase in exchange for them keeping her out of ASA custody.
That turns out to be a mistake. Agent Odell is the devil that Lynn knows, so she’s unnerved and frightened by him. But that’s because she’s not familiar with the Markovians, who are even more dangerous but, until now, haven’t posed as clear a threat to the Pierce family. So after they leave Jace in Freeland PD custody, Henderson’s precinct suddenly comes under assault from a mysterious meta.
Surprise, it’s the teleporting guy in the trenchcoat! Remember him? He appeared briefly in the final minutes of an episode earlier this season, murdering an entire bar with this teleporting powers and his dual pistols, before receiving a call telling him to go to Freeland. Well, he’s here now! He announces that he’s working for Markovia, that country where Dr. Jace previously helped with metahuman research and development. It seems she’s needed back, so he teleports her away. She’s mostly just interested in how his powers work.
Tobias, meanwhile, arranges his ultimate assault on Freeland and its champion, Black Lightning. First, he plays on the “Cape Man” shooting and uses it to produce Rodney King-style riots in Freeland; I’m just glad that story ended up being important after all! Then, Tobias sends his new meta crew of Heatstroke, Coldsnap, New Wave, and Shockwave to disable the city’s power grid with their elemental powers. He’s hoping that the resulting chaos will prove too much for Black Lightning, and for a few minutes, it seems like he might be right. Even after Lala randomly appears to shoot Heatstroke to death, Black Lightning and Thunder are soon trapped by New Wave’s water powers and Coldsnap’s freezing. They’re losing the elemental match-up.
NEXT: Tobias versus…Lightning??
Luckily, Black Lightning and Thunder aren’t alone in this fight. After Gambi recovers, he brings Jennifer to Freeland’s main generator and guides her in using her powers to reignite the power grid. Once the electricity is running through the city again, Black Lightning has enough juice to burst out of Coldsnap’s restraints and turn the tide. The three surviving metas take quite a beating, as Black Lightning repeatedly slams them into the ground with his lightning whip.
Now Tobias’ plans are crumbling — Freeland is even kept from collapse by the leadership of Reverend Holt, who thankfully survived Cutter’s attempt to assassinate him earlier in the season. Getting desperate, Tobias decides to just release all the pod kids at once. Cutter disagrees with the decision and leaves him, meaning Tobias is by his lonesome when Lala finally arrives.
There’s been a lot of Lala talk the last couple episodes, but come on: You didn’t really think he would be the one to take down Tobias, right? Sure enough, Tobias uses a trigger phrase to completely upset Lala, leaving him catatonic on the floor as all his tattoos activate at once. Tobias starts cackling and gloating, thinking his victory secure until Jennifer crashes through the window. Now calling herself Lightning, she’s got Tobias right where she wants him, and soon has him trapped in her own lightning whip.
But then daddy shows up. Black Lightning knows that Tobias deserves the worst, but Jennifer doesn’t deserve to become a killer. So he tries to hold her back, even though her radiation burns him just like it did Gambi. The shock reminds him of his conversation with his dad when he almost died last season finale, when Alvin Pierce told him “peace ain’t always peaceful, son.” So when he comes to, Black Lightning proceeds to absolutely whale on Tobias. He and his daughter finish him off by shocking him with their powers at the same time.
Of course, Tobias isn’t dead, but his fate suggests that there are some things just as bad. Taken into custody by the ASA, Tobias is put in a power-restraining collar and locked in a black site known as The Pit. In other words, Black Lightning has finally caught up with the other CW superhero shows’ attitude towards defeated baddies: Lock them in a hole and throw away the key. Not the best attitude to promote when your characters are supposed to be do-gooders, but Tobias deserves it if anyone does.
As promised at the top, the episode ends with a pretty fascinating tease of season 3. Agent Odell interrupts a Pierce family dinner to deliver an important message: War is coming. The Markovians have had enough. Since they’ve now compiled a stock of pod metahumans, they perceive Freeland and its random population of metahumans to be a threat. So they’re going to invade! As for how a sovereign country is going to make a military “first strike” against a landlocked city…that will have to wait for next season! But I for one am glad to know that Bill Duke’s Odell will still be around when it comes to that.
- EW’s Fall TV comics reading guide
- Black Lightning EP on how the ‘pain and absurdity’ of the world inspired season 2
- Black Lightning season premiere recap: Freeland is changing