Black Lightning‘s first season penultimate episode is the runaway truck from last week; it gives us some awesome fight scenes and frustrates me with its take on disability.
Tobias returns this week and takes the fight to Garfield High after recovering from treatment paid by Martin. The ASA director also paid for Khalil’s treatment! And as I was wary of episodes ago, Khalil is walking again. He actually starts the chaos at Garfield High, but more on that later.
Book of Pain
The episode actually starts with Martin talking to Tobias and revealing Khalil’s ‘healing’ then cuts to Lynn and Jefferson make out. Get it Lynn! We even get to see them after having sex and finally, finally, reconciling!
Back to Khalil—he’s not going back to school because people at Garfield “treated [him] like dirt” when he was in the chair, and is clearly in a bad mood. Khalil feels like no one cared about him when he couldn’t run anymore. And that Jefferson wouldn’t even let Jennifer around him.
Pause for a second and think about how both of those things aren’t even true. Jennifer went to talk to him and he was a jerk! Yes, he had been through a trauma and people react differently to news about disability, but you can’t go from giving us a kid who feels like he has no support to whatever this is when we never even saw anything he’s complaining about!
Not that what he’s mad about didn’t happen, or isn’t a realistic response, but the actual arc he’s getting is, “I was disabled, and I’m mad about it and being used by a bad guy but I can walk again” compared to anything that’s better.
It’s just so frustrating that we never get positive, healthy, representative arcs about physical mobility disabilities. DCTV already did this with Felicity on Error (nano tech instead of a spinal implant). Like, I get that his only way out of Freeland was running track, but come on.
Anyways, Jefferson tells Jennifer not to talk to Khalil, and she lets slip that Lynn is trying to isolate the meta gene to stop it and get her back to “normal.” Of course Jeffferson is pissed because it seems like Lynn is treating Jennifer like she’s sick, which works way better as a commentary on sickness as a permanent part of someone’s life than anything that’s happening with Khalil! Lynn actually wasn’t doing the research to find a way to “fix” Jennifer but just to give her options. But Jennifer is still sulking about all of this and Khalil too.
Who by the way tells Jennifer that she’s the first person who he wants to see him walking again. He apologizes for when they last talked but blames it on his mood not being able to walk or run. The important bit here is that Jennifer asks him how they picked him to get the implant. It pisses him off, so he jumps off the roof and disappears into the night.
The night being back to Tobias, who tells him their job is to catch Black Lightning, who is at Garfield High.
Well, specifically danger at GH will attract BL. So Tobias blackmails Khalil. His manipulation is the only reason I’m not completely done with this arc. Then comes the big fight. After a LaLa interlude.
LaLa and the Devil
He’s mad about drug dealing what else is new. A mysterious voice calls him, tells him “the devil deals the cards,” and he then rushes off to take care of the arms dealer who snitched on the ASA to Gambi.
Tobias tells Khalil that if he messes up he’ll rip out the implant and feed it to him (what the actual fuck). Thus, Khalil causes chaos at Freeland by injecting kids with Greenlight. Jennifer tries to stop him to no avail.
Then the fight scene I started my review with occurs, and while Black Lightning fights Tobias, Syonide briefly gets the upper hand on Thunder before the latter knocks her out and goes to help Black Lightning.
However before Thunder can get there, Khalil shoots Jefferson with something that shorts his circuits out and kills Jefferson! Until Jennifer shocks him alive, thank goodness.
Gambi gets the Pierce family to his hideout and the episode ends with Tobias telling LaLa that it’s time for them to not just get a seat at the table, but to own the whole table.
- Syonide’s injury makes me wonder if she’s fully human or not and in a way different to Tobias, who has a serum keeping him from aging at the same rate we do.
- Still really frustrated with Khalil’s arc. The show should have given us one or two more scenes with Khalil dealing with people treating him crappily due to his disability. It would have supported his (generally understandable) anger shown this week. At least then we’d have a”people without access to health care are treated X way.” Even “here is how the world sees disability.” Instead it’s the same old tired trope. But, I will reiterate what I mentioned earlier: Tobias is absolutely manipulating him in the worst way. So I hope at the very least we get a moment of, “Oh shit I’m screwed what do I do” from Khalil and some kind of verbalization that his treatment of Jennifer is garbage.
- I am really glad Black Lightning didn’t paralyze him by short circuiting the implant. Hoping if Khalil sticks around this arc is better.
- Poor Lynn. Her scenes with Jennifer were sweet though. I want chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting!
- I’m assuming Jennifer’s not seeing her powers as a problem now.
- How unsurprising is it that the entire premise of this show right now rests on Martin, the white guy who wants his experiment that has failed for 30+ years to somehow magically work? Cannot wait until he’s dead.
- Speaking of which, Tobias, there ain’t no white person who will truly accept you at the ASA/Shadowboard table.
Alright, join me next week for the season finale! It looks ridiculous and suitably intense for this show, but hopefully we actually get to see enough of what the director filmed for it to make sense! Thoughts on this week’s episode?