Black Lightning continues its second season of unwieldy titles with “The Book of Consequences: Chapter Two: Black Jesus Blues.” Considering “Black Jesus” is one of the nicknames we’ve heard for Jefferson Pierce, and that people in that role generally don’t have a great time, this bodes ill for the man. Things actually aren’t looking good for a lot of the family at the present.
After a strange new opening sequence, we start with a chess game between Tobias Whale and Khalil/Painkiller. Tobias has a unique method of making Khalil focus on the game. Between some very emphatic remarks about actions having consequences, Whale blames Khalil for Syonide’s death at Fowdy’s hands (or high heel, in this case). Since we never saw Khalil in that fight at all, I’m not sure how fair that is, but Whale has never been that interested in fair.
Among the pods holding the Green Light babies, a scientist meets a harsh end when one of them wakes up and/or the pod malfunctions (I was really unclear on which it was). Lots and lots of scientists flock to the scene (how big a staff does Lynn have?) and then a second new metahuman, who we later learn is named Wendy Fernandez, escapes, showing she’s fairly powerful. Lynn calls Jefferson to give him a heads up, and we hear Wendy has been out cold for thirty years, is very powerful, and hallucinating. That’s not a great combination.
The dour and humorless Agent O’Dell brings Lynn to Issa Williams, the kid who got so much media attention last episode for dying at the hands of the police and then coming back from the dead very publicly. Lynn is appalled at how Issa is being treated, and O’Dell doesn’t care, which is what I’d expect from both of them. Lynn seems to be willing to cut anyone with powers slack except Jefferson. After a short but intense disagreement with O’Dell, Lynn goes in to talk to Issa.
Jennifer and Anissa indulge in some sister/girl talk about their powers, the side benefits from them, and whether the powers are good or bad. They drift into gossiping about Jefferson and Lynn, and it’s a nice little family scene. Less nice is Issa getting visited by some loved ones and us getting a demonstration of what his power is. Poor kid got a rough draw, there. Anissa, following some of Jennifer’s earlier advice, goes out and flirts heavily with a singer she sees at some kind of performance that makes no sense the more we learn. This performer, who I’m not sure ever gets a name, is wealthy enough for a luxury apartment and jet, but was playing some random venue where she’s in the middle of the floor where people can just wander up to her?
Jefferson is having a much less fun time, getting lectured again by his old friend (at least I think they’re friends), Frank Napier. Napier comes bearing more ill-tidings from the board about the future of Garfield High. He and Jefferson argue a bit, but the about-to-be-former principal seems to accept most of it well. I will say for Jefferson that he’s heroic in every aspect of his life, and puts just about everyone’s needs before his. Later, Jefferson and Anissa are in Gambi’s hidden Grotto, getting an update from him about how he’s trying to turn up more information on Wendy, part of his shady past. The scene ends on the dual weird notes of seeing their costumes are stored on mannequins as seems to be some kind of legal requirement for all CW shows (even though they keep insisting this isn’t part of the CW-verse), and the father and adult daughter seem to be changing clothes in the same room.
Khalil is still partially mired in his past, as we see when he sneaks back to the Pierce home to visit Jennifer on her little piece of roof, which is where she seems to prefer to entertain her gentleman callers. She’s not happy to see him, and shows that very clearly, but he scores some points about how she’s actually feeling. They argue about his recent past actions, and her out of control powers flare. She manages to hide it, barely, and sends him away. Again, she shows she’s not quite as set against him as she wants people to think by not telling anyone he was there.
Tobias visits an old friend. They reminisce, and then he shows that, as usual, he has a reason for what he’s doing and it’s utterly cold and ruthless. The police tried to deal with Wendy Fernandez, and, as usual on almost any hero show, became helpless victims until the costumes show up. Black Lightning and Thunder rescue the cops fine, but she starts grandstanding for the crowd, which he really doesn’t like.
Back home, Jennifer seems intent on depleting the family supply of pepper when Lynn comes in, deciding this was a great place to bring an unstable metahuman. It’s a powered version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner as we see Issa’s power affecting everyone. Jefferson works out what’s happening and they all abandon the dinner table, while Issa, apparently unconcerned, keeps eating. Later, Jennifer brings Issa to the roof and shows that, as much as she complains about her powers, she understands the concepts well and gives him some pointers.
Anissa goes to a party with her new singer/girlfriend. Things take a turn for the awkward when Grace (I was wondering what happened to her) turns out to be a server at the event. Grace is annoyed, and Anissa at least acknowledges she hasn’t called. Her excuse that things are so crazy is undercut by her being at the party and obviously with someone. Grace is understandably displeased, and if she gets powers like her comic book counterpart, this could be bad for Anissa. Elsewhere, Tobias deals with a crooked cop named Summers, and Jefferson tries to sell his staff on the changes coming to Garfield. They aren’t buying.
Lynn has some bad news for Issa regarding his future. She also uses the term metahuman, another tie to the CW-verse the show keeps claiming it’s not part of. Issa has a tough choice to make. Which brings up a point: I don’t think he’s over 18, so he shouldn’t be making these choices anyway, even with his mother apparently disowning him. Gambi calls Pierce when his surveillance turns up Wendy again, and Black Lightning goes into action. They fight, with him being clearly very careful to try and not hurt her, and he snaps her out of her haze surprisingly easy. Later, Lynn puts her back to sleep in a pod at Wendy’s request while they do more research on her. Since she has wind powers and is named Wendy, and the show seems to be raiding the Outsiders list of characters, my guess is this is supposed to be some version of Windfall, a minor villain turned minor hero who was eventually killed on a mission for the team that lives up to its name, the Suicide Squad.
Issa decides to go with his loved ones and not take the safer but more restrictive route. Either they wrote this scene badly, or Lynn is being played. O’Dell even comments to her that Issa’s ability could be very useful. We’re supposed to believe that an agency as cutthroat and amoral as the ASA (are we ever going to learn what that stands for?) would let someone like that wander off just because Lynn wanted it that way?
Anissa and Jefferson argue about his taking on Wendy without her. He points out that she wasn’t around, and they clash about how she’s handling herself and her powers and her Thunder persona. Jefferson ends the episode addressing the student body of Garfield High and breaking the news about what’s coming. Everyone is upset. Jefferson is apparently staying on in a diminished role which I see being problematic on two fronts. One, it’s going to make it a lot harder to cover for his activities as Black Lightning. Two, political organizations, which the school board clearly is, tend to have issues with people who are independent, intelligent, show integrity, and generate personal loyalty. I see this going badly, although he does get a tribute from the students during the assembly.
What I liked: Jefferson is a hero in and out of costume. Lynn is clearly dedicated to, and passionate about, her work. Jennifer finally showed she’s got a good brain behind that teenage attitude of hers. Gambi is still helping out as best he can. The “consequences” part of the title was certainly apt. I like the nod to the Outsiders’ Windfall, which the more I think on it, the more I can’t see her being anything/one else. I like that Grace was back, but…
What I didn’t: Anissa is getting way too full of herself. She’s got the youngster’s confidence of being immortal buoyed up by her powers. I don’t like how she’s handling herself, dealing with Jefferson, treating Grace, or behaving as Thunder. I guess I’m siding with her dad. As I said above, I don’t buy the ASA let Issa go. Jennifer’s teen angst/drama is getting annoying, and the girl needs to grow up some. I feel bad for Jefferson, who is getting flack from all sides at this point, except maybe from Gambi and at least less from Lynn than we’ve seen in the past.
I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5. I hope things get better for Jefferson soon.