02nd Mar2018

‘Black Lightning 1×06: Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams | Developed by Salim Akil

BL-101-1

Black Lightning returns after a week off and the last time we saw Black Lightning, he was lying in a parking lot, beat down by his own armor and Whale’s henchman Joey Toledo. Luckily, Lightning has resourceful friends as Gambi shows up with the “Hurt Locker”, an armored van with medical equipment, and escapes from the large police unit looking for him. Why Toledo did not kill Lightning while he was incapacitated is still odd and even his defense that police were arriving seems even odder but I did like Gambi being the one to save the day.

Why all of a sudden is there a large police unit looking for Black Lightning you may ask? Because Deputy Chief Cayman (Anthony Reynolds) is dirty and working with Toledo and Whale. If Detective Henderson does not know his chief is dirty, he at minimal suspects something is off.

After a call from Gambi, Lynn saves the day again as she patches up Jefferson and even runs some scans on his brain. The audience learns one of Jefferson’s superpowers is the ability for his body to heal twice as fast as a normal person but as Jefferson has aged, the healing factor has slowed down. Lynn, at this point, is still against Jefferson being Black Lightning but there are cracks in her argument and Lynn is beginning to notice as well. 

After Jefferson heals from the fight, a tense moment occurs between him and Gambi on how to properly deal with Whale. While Gambi knows Whale is in Freeland, Jefferson does not know Gambi knows and continues to make his case that Whale is alive and running the drug Greenlight. Jefferson wants to kill Whale while Gambi plays the old superhero card of “if you kill him, you are no better than what you are fighting.” It’s a valid argument but Jefferson has a point…Whale killed his father, which we see in a flashback, so Jefferson is justified in getting revenge.

Anissa, even with superpowers, is still debating on how to serve her city, whether as a superhero, a social justice warrior or both. This week her cause is protesting, with the majority of the city, in removing an American Civil War Confederate general statue from the town square. This is another example of how the series excels. Instead of taking the easy route and having white supremacists as the main villain this week, we only get a few seconds of them as protesters and the story is more about what Anissa can do to promote change in the city. How does Anissa promote change? She uses her superpower of having a heavy foot to literally reduce the statue to powder.

Meanwhile Jefferson’s other daughter is struggling with her commitment to herself and her commitment to Khalil. Jennifer notices Khalil has become distant and angry since the accident and after a few inspiring words from her dad, Jennifer decides she needs some space from Khalil and his negativity. Confronting Khalil about his attitude adjustment goes about as well as expected as we find out that Khalil blames Jennifer for his injury since she asked him to go to the march that ended with a bullet in his spine.

First, can we all have a dad that delivers words of wisdom that Jefferson Pierce does? Second, Khalil is following the standard villain textbook lessons of 1) get injured doing the right thing and 2) blame others for your misfortunes. Jennifer ends their relationship with Khalil and now I am worried Jennifer may soon be Khalil and Whale’s next target.

The debate if Black Lightning should murder Whale and his associates is resolved thanks to Lynn realizing her own ego is the reason she never wanted Jefferson to be Black Lightning. Lynn felt she always came second to Black Lightning and advises Jefferson she now accepts him as Lightning and not to do something he will regret. This gives Jefferson enough pause and pulls back on murdering Whale and his associates. Unfortunately, this touching moment is broken up by Whale’s goons attacking Lynn across town at her work which sends Black Lightning flying to rescue her.

The whole reason Whale sent his thugs to Lynn’s office? To retrieve the research Anissa was reviewing from her grandfather in the last episode. Anissa could not crack the medical jargon and asked her mom for assistance. Somehow, Whale and Lady Eve found out Lynn has the research papers and sent thugs to retrieve it.

In stroke of coincidence, Anissa, in her superpower costume, is already on her way to see Lynn to reveal who she truly is, and is able to stop Whale’s thugs from harming Lynn. It was great to see an expansion of Anissa’s powers, including stopping bullets with her charged up body, as well as gaining more strength based on how emotional she becomes in the moment.

This whole setup leads to the action scene of the week as Black Lightning arrives just as Anissa, still in her superhero costume, is trying to untie Lynn from a chair. Lightning thinks this unknown meta-human is the villain and a fun fight scene ensues between Lightning and Anissa with her dad ruling the day. Only after knocking Anissa out and giving her a concussion does Lynn and Jefferson realize it was their daughter behind the costume. The episode ends with Anissa waking up at home and seeing her dad in the Black Lightning costume. Next week, the training begins!

One Good Thing:

  • Gambi used to work with Lady Eve. One of the best scenes in this week’s episode was the interaction/visit between Gambi and Lady Eve. The episode reveals Gambi and Lady Eve used to work together at the Agency, which one assumes is the CIA but this could even be a link to Amanda Waller’s secret group in the CW superhero universe. Gambi and Lady Eve were even “friendly” with each other at one time and though they may respect each other, time has taken these two individuals down very different roads in life. It’s implied Gambi made a deal with Lady Eve years ago: Gambi let Whale leave town alive as long as the Pierce family is left alone. After Lynn is attacked in this episode, Gambi threatens Lady Eve with letting secrets out but this threat angers Lady Eve as she threatens to release her own “dirty laundry” she has on Gambi. This interaction makes me really want to see an episode dedicated to Lady Eve and Gambi’s time in the Agency. Lady Eve continues to be fascinating and her character is vastly different from a typical crime boss on most superhero television shows.

One Bad Thing:

  • Can we get Syonide to do something? Who is Syonide? We don’t know! The loyal right-hand woman of Whale is always by his side, protecting him but we never hear her speak and until I looked online, did not even know her name. This may not be a “bad thing” but I want to know who this character is because she looks intimidating and once the gloves come off, I am expecting an amazing fight scene from her. I admit the “Bad Thing” this week is a selfish one and as much as I love a slow build in my television shows, I really just want to see what Syonide can do. Make it happen writers!

What We Learned:

  • Khalil is all in with Whale. The end of the episode finds Whale and Tori sitting in their car, talking to a mystery person which we soon find out is Khalil. Khalil’s desire to walk again has officially caused him to align himself with Whale and Tori and hopefully leads to Khalil becoming a supervillain worthy of holding his own. It would not surprise me if Khalil, after gaining superpowers from Whale to assist in walking again, turns on Whale and takes over the 100 gang himself. The way the writers have been slowly building this world, I feel confident Khalil may be sticking around awhile.
  • Lynn is finally accepting of Black Lightning. After years of making Pierce give up what he was destined to be, Lynn finally accepts Pierce as Black Lightning. I have enjoyed Lynn’s journey this season and I appreciate the writers are allowing Lynn to see the bigger picture of how much good her husband can do for the city. Often times there is one character that disagrees with the hero’s destiny and more times than naught, becomes an annoying distraction on the series. Lynn, even when she disagreed with the tactics, has never become that and has made for a better show.

Some Questions:

  • What happened to Whale’s doctor that decided to help Black Lightning? We see the doctor call Lightning to give some information and then the storyline is ignored the rest of the episode. Later in the episode, we see a dead body on a slab at Lady Eve’s house. Was that the doctor on the slab?
  • Jennifer is accused by her school nemesis of being “not black enough” but the plan backfires on her nemesis and the school turns on her. Is this the end of Jennifer’s issues with the mean girls at her school or will this situation continue to escalate?
  • Will the secrets Gambi has backfire and lead to a falling out with Jefferson by the end of the season?

This Episode’s Grade: B+ (Very Good)

Black Lightning has really come into its own as a series in just six episodes and outside of one minor speed bump of an episode, continues to deliver high quality television each week. The series presents social issues not often found on network television while still telling a compelling story without forcing the writers’ views onto the audience. I’m excited for next week, as the superhero business for Jefferson Pierce seems to become a family business.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here.
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