Following the events of Black Lightning Season 2, the city of Freeland has been under occupation by the shady government organization known as the ASA. We’ve seen the city’s metahuman population imprisoned and experimented on while the entire city is subjected to checkpoints and identity checks. But the temperature is rising in the city and things are about to change. Spoilers follow for Black Lightning Season 3, Episode 5, “Requiem for Tavon.”
“Requiem for Tavon”
This week’s chapter is the final in the “Book of Occupation” that the season has been writing thus far. Anissa’s efforts to rescue captive citizens in her Blackbird disguise are annoying the ASA enough that they’ve started to look into her identity. The parents of the falsely-imprisoned Tavon are making waves over their son’s disappearance. The students of Garfield High are becoming more and more restless about the injustice around them. Lynn and Jennifer continue to struggle with power and fear. This is a busy episode with almost every character getting some meaningful time.
Everything this week is working toward the shift from “occupation” to “resistance.” Previously, Blackbird rescued Tavon from his false imprisonment but got him out of the city under the belief that he was a metahuman. Now, Tavon’s parents are starting to make noise about their missing son. Jefferson and Anissa decide upon learning that Tavon isn’t metahuman—and has the documentation to prove it—that bringing Tavon back into Freeland is worth the risk.
In the process, though, Blackbird encounters the brainwashed Khalil, who is not only a top-tier fighter who seems to be built like a Terminator, but who also can inject poison into his victims with just a touch. Both Blackbird and Tavon end up poisoned, and Tavon dies from the wound.
First a spark
Word of Tavon’s death travels, and his fellow students find out and go after the ASA soldiers in front of their school. The soldiers respond by burying the butts of their guns in the student’s stomach, causing Jefferson to intervene. The scene that follows is a brutal beatdown by the ASA soldiers that had me wanting to cover my eyes.
Off to the side, Jennifer watches in frustration, unable to help her father. She’s struggling, too. After her Phoenix moment last week, Jennifer is struggling to contain her powers and ends up frying a whole computer room at school. Her father’s assault becomes an excuse to vent some of it, though. She confronts Agent Odell about his soldiers’ behavior; Odell takes her to the soldiers, but not to capture her. Rather, he lets her take out her anger on them. The story cuts away before we see what happens, though. Is Jennifer a murderer now?
Lynn, meanwhile, continues to work for the ASA, and unwittingly volunteers to work on the rapidly-aging Tobias Whale. In return for administering the serum that keeps him young, Tobias threatens her family and lets her know that he’s figured out that her husband and Black Lightning are one and the same. Lynn tells Agent Odell in no uncertain terms that he should have Tobias killed. Is Lynn a murderer now?
Then a fire
Against the backdrop of all of this is the general oppression of the town of Freeland. Tavon’s death and Jefferson’s assault are sparks about to start a wildfire. Behind the scenes, it turns out that Police Chief Henderson hasn’t been just the simple, compliant officer the ASA knows. Instead, he’s been organizing. He arrests repeat-offender Two-Bit and the town’s preacher on spurious charges, only to uncuff them in a dark warehouse. There, he reveals a resistance is in the making, leading us directly into the season’s next chapter, the Book of Resistance.
I’ve really enjoyed the arc of this season so far. Black Lightning is doing something that feels like shades of X-Men here and doing it effectively. It picks on a particular comic-book trope—in this case, metahumans—being real and asking how the world around them would respond. Fear, discrimination, and a desire for control all seem like responses we could count on if metahumans suddenly popped up in our world. It uses a lot of difficult imagery (if toned down a bit for network TV) to make its point.
Each year, a different show sticks out on the CW as being the most interesting. Last year, it was Supergirl. The year before that it was Legends of Tomorrow. This year, it seems like it’s Black Lightning. I’m eager to see where the show takes this story.