You can only be pushed so many times before you start to push back. The ASA has been pushing the people of Freeland for the last five episodes of Black Lightning, and now they’re ready to push back. Black Lightning is split into “books,” and this week’s episode marks the shift into the “Book of Resistance.” It isn’t the most action-packed episode of the season, nor the most visceral. What it does do is put pieces in place for what will hopefully be a satisfying re-unification of Freeland and of the Pierce family. Spoilers follow for Black Lightning Season 3, Episode 6, “Book of Resistance Chapter One: Knocking on Heaven’s Door.”
“Knocking on Heaven’s Door”
Since the very beginning, Black Lightning has been as much about Jefferson Pierce’s family making it through hard times together. The Pierces have overcome some tough hurdles, but the occupation is taking its toll on every member of the family differently, and this week we’re seeing the effects of that. The family is pretty well split up at the end of the episode.
Anissa is still recovering or, rather, dying from the venom injected by the resurrected Khalil during last week’s battle. Her metahuman healing is fighting back against the venom, but doing a poor job of it. Jennifer has become suspicious of her new friend at school and decides to break into his apartment, where she finds pictures of her family on his computer. She learns that his family was hurt by Jace, the geneticist that Lynn was working with last season to stabilize the “pod kids,” giving the two something to bond over.
Lynn is frustrated at home by Jefferson’s disregard for how she wants things to go, and at work, by the frightening situation she’s been forced into where she has to work with Tobias. Jefferson, finally, feels helpless despite his superpowers. His frustration has led him to theatrics (burning lightning bolts into the sides of buildings) that have, in Lynn’s eyes, put his family in harm’s way.
Much of this is, of course, the direct result of Agent Odell’s manipulation. Agent Odell put Khalil in front of Anissa, even if he doesn’t realize it yet. He’s been intentionally putting ideas in Jennifer’s head to make her more useful for his needs. Lynn, meanwhile, is completely addicted to the Greenlight drug. Her fear of both Odell and Tobias is interfering with her judgment, too. Jefferson’s frustration is pushing him to act out despite the threats against his family, and even that seems to be part of Odell’s plan.
Grave Analysis: Empty
Gambi’s search for an anti-venom for Anissa leads him to the question about whether Khalil might be alive. The venom is similar to that which Khalil used as Painkiller. I think this is actually kind of a big logical leap to assume Khalil is alive rather than that the ASA is producing more of the venom he was using. I also think it’s really funny when Gambi does an ultrasound scan of Khalil’s grave and gets a pop-up that says “EMPTY” when he finishes scanning as if someone had built a program specifically for scanning graves and identifying the presence of bodies. That’s not how any of this works, you guys. But I also think it’s a more interesting way to reveal Khalil than to have one of the Pierces recognize him without warning, so I’m hoping this will give them the jump on him.
The centerpiece of this episode marks the entry of the Markovians into Freeland. A teleporting meta brings in the Markovian general into the city and they infiltrate the ASA’s base of operations, only for Odell to point a gun at them. Things go badly, and the general is whisked away by the teleporter. The Markovians, however, managed to shoot Odell. He seemingly dies while using his last words to tell Jefferson that he’s pathetic for refusing to kill.
While all this is going on, the Freeland resistance recruits Jamilah Olsen, the reporter who has been harassing everyone since the beginning of the season, to act as the voice of the resistance. They’re struggling to make any headway, but hope that having a strong voice will bring people together. Agent Odell’s apparent death could be the thing they need to get a foothold.
This episode is, again, mostly development, and it feels like not a lot happened. But we have a lot stuff set up to happen. As long as the show makes good on that, I’m down to see where it goes. Separating the Pierces is a big move for a show that has focused so much on family.