Black Lightning: Equinox: The Book of Fate


I am NOT happy about this episode!

The writers on Black Lightning continue their book-ish titles with “Equinox: The Book of Fate.” It’s never made clear what “Equinox” refers to, and for some DC fans, that’s just as well. There was a really horrid storyline involving a character by that name back in the Justice League Europe book, and it was a chapter in one character’s history that’s never been referred to since. So at least they didn’t bring that ugliness back.

Shortly after the last episode concluded, we see Anissa being examined by Lynn. Anissa is both in pain from her injuries, although we learn she’s a fast healer like her dad, and in utter shock that her father is the famous hero/vigilante Black Lightning. Lynn wastes no time with beginning her anti-hero lectures, just like she does to Jefferson, but Anissa fights back and makes some very good points. Lynn really seems to have a version of that whole “Not In My Back Yard” thing going. She wants the city to be saved, just not by her family.

Upstairs in the tailor shop (which has to be among the weirdest choices ever to hide a superhero lair), Gambi is laying down a story for Jefferson to explain why Lynn might have been attacked. Gambi is also trying to make Jefferson feel better about his fight with Anissa, since there was no way Jefferson could have known it was her. Jennifer’s absence is dealt with in passing, and then Jefferson lays into Gambi about not knowing that Tobias was around. Jefferson, more rightly than he suspects, thinks Gambi is holding back on him, and isn’t happy about it. Gambi explains some of his motives without revealing the extent of his secrets, and Jefferson storms off. This is going to get a lot worse the more Jefferson learns about what’s going on with his mentor/adoptive father.

Tobias gets in some training, and he’s not a sparring partner I’d want to have. He and Toledo discover one of their projects is more widespread than they thought. In the aftermath of the attack on Lynn, she works with a police sketch artist, and Henderson grudgingly admits that she was lucky Black Lightning showed up. He asks her a bunch of fairly logical questions and doesn’t get any useful answers. Henderson then moves on to Jefferson, wondering if his inspiring his students is making him a target for the 100. Almost as soon as they are done, Lady Eve has Lynn’s sketches, and dispatches some agents to deal with the problem, and tells Gambi about it. They keep hinting at the background for those two, and I have to admit I’m not putting much of it together.

Jefferson and Lynn walk down the hall at police HQ and have a conversation that really would be better somewhere more private. He touches on wondering of someone knows he’s Black Lightning (way to keep that secret ID). They also discuss the mysterious box of research Anissa found.

Tobias muses on the many down sides of Green Light, and comes to a decision. Jefferson, in a tiresome hero cliche, decides everything is his fault and blames himself for Anissa having powers. That’s a step too far even for Lynn the anti-meta, and she tries to talk him down from that. He also decides on his more immediate priorities, and I agree with his reasoning. Lynn wonders if Jennifer has powers as well, and that sets off a bad joke and a new round of worries. In the comics, for whatever that may be worth, both daughters have powers.

Jefferson starts suffering from the demands of two lives when he’s sitting in with a teacher disciplining a student, but has to leave when Black Lightning gets a call from Henderson. You can’t really bluff your way through that as a normal call when you’re doing the voice distortion thing (which Arrow and Flash both started off with and abandoned). Henderson asks him about other people with abilities, and mentions an event Jefferson is a bit too familiar with now. The hero agrees to “keep an eye out” if Henderson helps him find Toledo and Whale. Jefferson then tries to talk Anissa out of using her powers, and does about as well as Lynn did with him. Hypocrite there much, Jeff? He refuses to train her, which is short-sighted at best, and then they agree she should go warn Pope, the newspaper editor she got the box from.

Gambi goes to see Eve, who is engaged in another kind of disgusting activity as they talk. Gambi wants her to get Whale under control, and she’s not really inclined to listen. There are some strange references to an “ecosystem” and a balance they’ve established, which makes it sound like Gambi is in even deeper than I thought. Eve makes a compromise offer and does a great spin on the “crossing that bridge” saying.

The next morning at breakfast, Jennifer picks up on the tensions between Jefferson and Anissa. They do a not very convincing cover story, and she calls them on it, pointing out the many things they are missing, sort of a “what’s wrong with this picture” kind of puzzle. Anissa leaves a message for Mr. Pope and then goes to visit her mother, still hiding out in Gambi’s lair/basement. They have a talk, and Anissa shows that she, at the very least, has the heroic mindset. Once again, Lynn comes across as greedy and selfish to me. Anissa then goes to check on Pope in person, and gets some disturbing news.

In the back room of a club, Toledo gets an unexpected visitor who is dressed a lot like The Shadow for some odd reason. Things don’t go well for the gangster. I have to say that his choice of weapons, a revolver, was a bad one. With all the weird stuff in town, you limit yourself to six shots? Why would you do that?

Anissa makes it home, very upset about Pope, and she and Jefferson talk about it. Then he goes to check in on Lynn in her hideout. She has come to a decision, and once again apparently expects Jefferson to just do what she tells him to. I may be getting biased, but she’s getting to be a really annoying ongoing presence. Their chat gets broken up by another call from Henderson for Black Lightning, which Jefferson downplays to her as he leaves.

Tobias’ rhapsodizing about jazz gets interrupted when his sister brings him bad news. Furious, he decides to take some drastic steps, and his sister shows she’s the brains of the outfit. Henderson and Black Lightning have a standard hero/cop meeting up on a roof with the ninja exit and everything.

The news shows that Lynn doesn’t have to be worried about the men that attacked her anymore. Feeling emboldened by this, she has a chat with Gambi, while Black Lightning flashes back to his father’s death as he stares down at the club Tobias is hiding out in. Rooftop brooding is also a staple of the urban hero drama, and Black Lightning is making sure to get his share in.

Gambi is at work on a new project, and Lynn is making comments that immediately contradict what she was just talking to Jefferson about. She needs to make up her mind, that one. Anissa comes to the shop to visit, and Gambi gives her what’s essentially a down payment on a present. He retreats back downstairs when Lynn comes up so she and Anissa can talk. Continuing her whiplash-inducing mindset, Lynn now seems to be encouraging Anissa in her new heroic career.

Black Lightning finally makes his move, and there’s a big fight between him and Tobias’s goon squad. Tobias is not pleased to see his old acquaintance back. While this goes on, Eve gets a surprise of her own that’s going to complicate things, and we see how clever a set up this is. The Black Lightning/Tobias end of the fight has a casualty that’s also going to make matters worse between these two foes.

The wrap up scenes include Jefferson drinking alone, Anissa reaching out to someone, a chat between Anissa and Jefferson, Henderson leaping to the wrong but understandable conclusion, and a very strange final scene that shows there’s more going on in Freeland than we’ve known about so far.

What I liked: I’m glad they didn’t draw out the story of Anissa keeping her powers hidden from her family. There are enough complications without that one. While it seems to be over by the end of the episode, I liked that Henderson was starting to get over his bias against Black Lightning. I really believe Gambi cares about the Pierces, which is going to make what seems to be coming even rougher on everyone. I’m glad Anissa is getting a real costume, and I’m curious to see if Jennifer and/or Grace follow in the footsteps of their original versions in the comics. I felt bad for Anissa as she learned about the unintended consequences of part of her actions.

What I didn’t: Mostly, everything to do with Lynn. She’s part Debbie Downer and part idea-killer, but still seems to expect everyone to listen to her. If they could get past that, she’d be a great character and useful addition to the show and hero team. I don’t like all the secrets Gambi is keeping, or what sounds like a murkier and murkier past as we learn more.

All in all, I’m still really enjoying this show. I’ll give this one a solid 3.5 out of 5, and see what the fallout is from some of these developments next episode.