Black Lightning the character is part of the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, but the Black Lightning show itself isn’t. Despite that, the show found its own way to partake in the festivities. As the barrier between multiverse worlds blurs and wanes, Jennifer Pierce finds herself looking at doppelgangers from other worlds, where they were forced to make the choice she will soon be faced with. Spoilers follow for Black Lightning Season 3, Episode 9, “Earth Crisis.”
While Flash, the Green Arrow, and all their Super Friends are preparing to fight for the multiverse, the people of Freeland are fighting for their freedom from oppression by the ASA and invasion by Markovian forces. Black Lightning has chosen his side, and Lynn Pierce has chosen hers. In the middle is their daughter Jennifer Pierce. Jennifer is a wildly powerful metahuman who has only recently gained control over her powers, and who has subsequently gotten the attention of the ASA.
Agent Odell, who is in charge of the operation in Freeland, sees an opportunity in the powerful but naive Jennifer. All season, he’s been feeding her half-truths that tell a story where the ASA–an organization bent on controlling and weaponizing metahumans–is the good guy.
The nature of Jennifer’s powers means that the anti-matter wave devouring the multiverse is destabilizing her own existence. She blurs in and out and ends up in a void, faced with two other versions of herself. One wears a containment collar, while the other is dressed in such classically ‘evil’ garb that I expected her to have a goatee.
Jennifer witnesses life through the eyes of both of these doppelgangers. The first, Gen, made the decision to de-power the city of Freeland by manipulating the water supply to make metas lose their powers. In return for her move, Odell threw her in the black site prison called “The Pit.” The ASA allows Gen to go home for Christmas, only to invade her home and execute her father for helping to run an underground railroad with Reverend Holt.
The second, Jinn, worked directly with Odell, blowing up the Markovians and ending the war. Jinn is proud of her kills and struts around Freeland like she owns it. Her family holds an intervention. Her mother, sister, and father are all there. Enraged, Jinn kills her mother and sister easily and then faces off against her father in a one-on-one battle. He loses, and her whole family is dead.
The whole episode gives us a sort of Ghosts of Christmas Future look at who Jen could be. It gives actress China Ann McClain the chance to act herself ragged as she swings from the desperation of Gen to the corrupted swagger of Jinn. Jen sees the benefits of her father’s code of honor versus Adrian Veidt’s “save a billion by killing a million” philosophy. She also sees the danger of being passive and in trying to act like someone with what amounts to nuclear powers can have a totally normal life.
This episode ended up being a fun way to use the Crisis to look at what Jennifer, who is sure to be a crucial player in the episodes to come, has on her mind. However, just as she finished with her internal struggle, that pesky anti-matter wave wiped out her and everyone else on her Earth. This is the show’s mid-season finale, so we have to wait until 2020 to find out how things will resolve – both in terms of how the Arrowverse will restore Jen and her world and how that will play into everything happening in Freeland.