Black Lightning’s second season continues with “The Book of Secrets: Chapter One: Prodigal Son.” As Reverend Holt provides a fiery voiceover of a sermon, the Pierces and Khalil’s mother visit him in the hospital. He’s doing about as poorly as you’d expect from having his spine ripped out, which is essentially what Tobias did last episode. Time passes a bit inconsistently, as Khalil has grown a beard but the sermon seems to still be going on. Holt is a great speaker, but that is part of his problem. Tobias isn’t pleased with Holt’s refusal to deal about the clinic, and dispatches Cutter to handle the problem, which she does with a lot more subtlety than we’ve seen from her before now. Khalil, gasping for breath, makes a request of Jefferson that Jefferson refuses. I find his refusal odd, since it’s what he’s been saying he was going to do the last season and a half or so.
While Tobias gives himself some medication, Jennifer has an unpleasant run-in out in the parking lot with a woman who seems to be the poster child for an unfortunate trend in race relations the last few years. Jennifer loses her temper, and things get interesting for the woman’s insurance agent. Jefferson hears what’s going on, finds Jennifer, and helps get her out of sight. He tries to siphon off her excess power like he has in the past, but there’s too much of it. Perenna, Jennifer’s mentor, shows up out of the blue and asks for some privacy with the terrified young woman. The special and lighting effects in this scene were really well done.
Tobias listens to jazz and makes more of his usual racist comments, while Todd uses the cracked ASA case to monitor the work on the pods. His comments about a girl fight get Tobias’ attention enough to realize that the crimelord knows Dr. Jace. Whale begins spinning a new scheme, with Todd’s technical help. Perenna helps Jennifer get herself under control, much to everyone’s relief. Jennifer goes to see Khalil, Perenna evades Jefferson’s questions, and Lynn makes an offer to Dr. Conley, the one treating Khalil, which is rejected. On the one hand, I see Conley’s points, but on the other, there really doesn’t seem to be a lot to lose at this point.
Henderson finds Jefferson in the cafeteria and breaks some bad news to him. Jefferson immediately (and rightly, but he doesn’t know that) suspects Whale. They talk about how to proceed, and Jefferson makes a vague reference to having “resources.” Henderson wonders what that means, and Jefferson decides to show him, bringing the Deputy Chief to Gambi’s sanctum, throwing a lot of surprises at the Freeland cop. Gambi handles it all in his usual low-key way, only seeming to get ruffled when it’s suggested he’s not actually a tailor. I guess he takes pride in his cover identity.
While those three plan what to do, Jennifer visits with Khalil. A new facet of her powers emerges, upsetting her enough that she leaves the room, and then has to try and explain it to Lynn. An increasingly desperate Jennifer makes a bunch of suggestions, and Lynn has to explain the difference between “enhanced” and “meta.” Grace comes to visit Anissa, offering support and fast food (I admit, I’m disappointed it wasn’t Big Belly Burger).
Tobias waterboards someone while chatting with a portrait of what might be his mother. Cutter shows up, and they argue about her job description. Tobias almost apologizes about something from their past, and then leaves on another, more typical jerk note. Conley attempts to block Lynn’s efforts again, and gets overwhelmed by legal threats and ASA backup. Henderson pays a visit to Tobias in his hideout, making use of some of Khalil’s knowledge. Tobias is his usual smirking self, but he doesn’t know he’s being played this time as Henderson gets some coaching. Todd goes and mounts a high-tech prison escape with some cool toys.
Todd brings Dr. Jace to Tobias, and there’s some catching up, establishing old ties for the viewers, and hints about another Outsider character. It’s a meeting of the psychopaths, and it’s a bit chilling. Anissa and Grace wait and snuggle a bit in the hallway/waiting room, while Jennifer offers what comfort she can to Khalil. Gambi runs the results of his earlier scans and offers Jefferson more bad news. Then Lynn calls with more. Lynn also is a font of bad news for Jennifer. Jennifer uses her powers in a completely new way and gets a bit of special time with Khalil, which ends all too soon. The episode ends with the bad guy squad making a discovery that glows an ominous green, no doubt boding ill for the heroes in the near future.
What I liked: This was a well-written, directed, and acted episode. It’s a superhero show where no one put on a costume, and it worked perfectly well. Black Lighting has been more about character than action a lot of the time, and this was one of those times they did it right. The Gambi/Henderson scene in the sanctum was great. Perenna continues to be interestingly enigmatic. Even Tobias, who I can’t stand, had good interaction scenes with both Cutter and Jace. The hint about the other Outsider was interesting and I wonder if more heroes might pop up later. Then again, Looker is a hero in the comics and definitely wasn’t on this show. It was a quiet scene, but I really liked how they handled Grace and Anissa.
What I didn’t: Tobias manages to be a few steps ahead of everyone, all the time, and it’s getting tiresome. I really hope Black Lighting manages to punch him hard in the face before all this is done. A few episodes ago, we got a closing scene with a teleporting, gun-toting badass who seemed like he’d be an interesting foe for our heroes… and he seems to have dropped out of sight completely. I’d like them to do a bit more with Grace’s backstory and condition.
This was a really well-done episode. I’ll give it a 4 out of 5. We’re most of the way through this season, and I’m really hoping they get some of these plots resolved.