Black Lightning recap: Life during wartime
The second installment of Black Lightning’s new “Book of Occupation” arc is a bit more disjointed than the last. We check in on almost every single named character on the show (even a few you thought were dead!) but don’t linger with any of them, giving the episode a fragmented feel. But let’s try to run down what we know.
Jefferson Pierce’s “protective custody” with the ASA has so far mostly resulted in him growing out his beard and hair, while also helping him discover a new X-ray-vision-like power he never used before. Other detainees aren’t so fortunate, however. Maryam, the woman we met last week introducing herself and explaining her ability to blend into any background, is really not holding up well. Her eyes are bleeding, her hair is falling out, and it seems certain she’ll die soon. But not if Lynn has anything to say about it. As men like Jefferson and Odell scheme around her, Lynn dedicates herself to trying to save as many Green Light children as she can. All props to Jefferson, though, for speculating that the ASA’s talk of “the Markovian threat” is just a trumped-up bit of theater like the alleged weapons of mass destruction that were used to justify the Iraq War. (Take that, Ellen!)
As it turns out, the Markovian threat is no joke. We see clips of Markovian guerrilla soldiers putting up camp in an abandoned warehouse somewhere, and the camp even gets the ominous title Wolfsbane Mountain. We don’t see much more from them for now, but suffice to say the threat is there and it’s real.
While we may not know exactly what the shadowy Markovians are up to, we know what the ASA is doing to supposedly fight back against them, and it’s not pretty. First of all, Odell resurrects Khalil. Well, he’s officially Painkiller now; his entire identity as Khalil has been erased, because apparently the ASA has a way of imprinting and removing memories. So the new Painkiller gets a classic education directly uploaded to his brain, but no memory of his family or friends. That leads to the episode’s horrifying climax, in which Painkiller is sent to his mom’s apartment. She’s overjoyed to see him, but soon realizes he doesn’t recognize her in the slightest. He then… kills her. It’s a gruesome death, too. He not only holds her up and chokes her, he also infects her with a chemical weapon that fills her skin with green veins. The Markovians will need to pose quite a threat in order to justify doing this to people.
Meanwhile, Gambi is able to pit Henderson against the ASA to give him an opening to steal some tech. While Henderson makes a scene complaining to Carson Williams about the ASA’s sudden detention of one of his policewomen, Gambi (in holographic disguise) sneaks in and steals a device from their stores. The scene where they plan this heist is probably the highlight of the episode for me, especially when Gambi first reveals his disguise and Henderson just rolls his eyes: “Do you ever run out of weird-ass tech?”
That device helps reopen the ASA perimeter so Anissa/Blackbird can escape, which is definitely a good thing for Freeland. As long as Jefferson is still stuck in the ASA’s “protective custody” and Jennifer’s still in school, Blackbird is the only hero Freeland’s got. And the city’s gonna need her now that Lala (sorry, Tattoo Man) has officially taken over as leader of the One Hundred.