Black Lightning: Just and Unjust


When you go to that meeting at work and find out there’s no one there you even want to be in the same room with…

“Just and Unjust” is a very emotionally charged episode of Black Lightning, and deals with several things the other DC/CW shows ignore. I give them points for most of what they did in the episode, with a few things that didn’t quite work as well in my opinion. But it was still an excellent episode with several surprises. Some minor spoilers are below.

Lynn and Anissa go to the grocery store (a moment of normalcy you don’t see on the other shows) and argue about how to handle Jennifer’s grief. Lynn is a bit overbearing, and Anissa’s attempt to point out that her parents might not actually know everything gets interrupted by a most unexpected attack. It’s a very quick, slightly confusing sequence with an equally unexpected savior for the Pierces. A shaken Lynn calls Jefferson at home, who urges them to get off the streets and “use the tunnels.” Presumably this is another Gambi safeguard of some sort, although it’s the first I recall hearing of it. Maybe Freeland is riddled with tunnels from Prohibition? That would explain the Sanctum, as well.


Jennifer is with Nichelle, Khalil’s mother, and they’re both lost in grief. Jennifer, getting more upset, ducks out when her powers start slipping again, and hears even more upsetting news on the way out. Funerals are expensive, and Nichelle has no idea how she’s going to pay for Khalil’s. We’ve seen the other DC/CW shows mount a really impressive body count over their seasons, but by and large, they seem to shrug it off and go forward. This is a much more realistic treatment of grief.


Lynn treats Anissa in the Sanctum, who isn’t hurt that badly thanks to her powers reflexively flaring a bit. The Pierces and Gambi try and puzzle out a few things, like who came after them, why, and how they knew where they were. Jefferson blames Tobias Whale, but is at least honest enough to admit he pretty much blames Tobias for everything. Gambi comes up with a different theory that they hate, and Lynn decides to investigate over Jefferson’s protests.


Lynn follows up on Gambi’s theory, sort of. She never really asks any questions of the suspect. There’s some verbal fencing and that scene wraps up with no real answers. Tobias gets an update from Todd about their newest acquisitions, but doesn’t seem to care much. Anissa and Jennifer get a good sister scene, where they bring each other up to date on what’s going on with the attack and Nichelle.


Jefferson and Lynn have a tense conversation which is honestly the kind of thing that had me not liking Lynn much in Season One. Their escalating tension gets interrupted when Jennifer comes in, proclaiming she’s ready for training, a costume, whatever is needed to go kill Tobias. Jefferson, who has made this vow himself in the past, tries to talk her out of it. They debate revenge versus justice, and Jefferson makes an interesting comment on the link between powers and emotions


Dr. Jace and ASA Agent O’Dell have a discussion at her holding cell. O’Dell knows who was behind the earlier attack, and it ties into Jace’s background both on the show and in the comics. They debate what to do, and come to a conclusion that really isn’t going to make Lynn happy. To her credit, Jace does give Lynn a fairly impressive compliment.


Lynn continues one of her more troubling habits of late, and has another sort-of argument with Jefferson. This doesn’t really go anywhere and he goes up to bed, even after Lynn softens her tone a bit. Anissa finds trouble at work of the sadly more conventional and believable kind when she interviews a new patient. Nurse Patel fills Anissa in on what the problem is and why the staff are essentially doing nothing about it. Some thugs go after Perenna, and learn this is a very, very bad idea.


The Pierces have evidently decided that the best course of action with unknown attackers coming after them is to let Jennifer go back to Garfield High. I’m not sure I see the logic there, but Jennifer sees a lot with the new aspect of her powers kicking in. Her good mood at returning evaporates when she sees a big memorial for Khalil in the hallway. Anissa goes to see Grace, and we see their relationship has taken a big step forward. We also learn there are comic books devoted to both Black Lightning and Thunder, which seems to delight, surprise, and amuse Anissa, who eagerly starts reading.


Later, Anissa dressed up in her sort of Robin Hood-like garb, goes after a local 100 boss, working on several problems at once. We hear what the name is that’s been given to Anissa in this garb, and, while she does great on the first part of the fight, she’s overconfident and gets badly beaten at the end, barely managing to stagger away. Back at Garfield, which I guess means Anissa did this attack during the day while she was supposed to be at work, Jennifer sees something that angers her and hears it’s being done on orders from the irksome Principal Lowry.


Gambi finds Anissa in the aftermath of her not-so-successful outing, and gives her some help and some good advice. At least she seems to know she didn’t do this one well. Back at Garfield, Jennifer stages a sort of sit in, which goes about as well as you’d expect under Lowry. He confronts her, badly, and loses control of the situation and a good bit of the student body. He does something he should be sued for later, and the students film him and stage a larger protest. Lowry appeals to Jefferson, who just arrived, for help, and Jefferson gets in a great line about their current roles before pretty much siding with the students and walking away. I wonder how all those cell phone videos are going to sit with the image-obsessed board of the school.


O’Dell, Lynn, and Jace have a meeting/confrontation over what’s going to happen next with the Pod Kids. Lynn is pissed off but essentially has no options. Anissa pays an after-hours call on the funeral home, and takes care of at least one of the episode’s worries. Jefferson goes to see Gambi and, with leads Gambi has developed, decide on the next step.


Black Lightning pays a visit to the earlier attackers, and doesn’t pull any punches. After subduing them all, he calls Henderson to deal with them. At work, Anissa gets to see the after-effects of her earlier work, and gets some good news.


What comes next is probably my least favorite scene of the episode. I get what they were trying to do, but a lot of it doesn’t really make a lot of sense, or make our hero look that great. Jefferson goes to Lowry’s office, mad that Lowry called security to deal with Jennifer rather than just come get him. So Jefferson is upset the man he turned his back on, literally, earlier that day, didn’t do him a favor and make a special exception for Jennifer. Lowry is a dick in this scene, which is about all we’ve ever seen from him. But Jefferson doesn’t come across all that sympathetically on several fronts, either. I’d say they both handled themselves badly, with Lowry coming across much worse.


Grace and Anissa talk about movies as they walk through a park. They clearly have different tastes in the cinema. Anissa does something fun and spontaneous, and they talk about some of their differences. Grace is still keeping secrets, although to be fair, Anissa is too, and Grace runs off in the midst of a serious conversation when her condition acts up. Anissa is left behind, very confused and a bit hurt, and I don’t blame her.


Tobias is curious about the rogue tactical teams in Freeland, and Todd has no answers for him. He does, however, have some information about what they retrieved at the end of last episode. This is sounding more and more like some things Tobias really shouldn’t have in his control.


The Pierces attend Khalil’s funeral, which is full of thick emotion. Oddly, despite how popular Khalil seemed to have been judging from the memorial at the school,  the Pierces and Nichelle are almost the only ones there, which I don’t quite understand. Nichelle wails and Jennifer makes a graveside vow. Jefferson gets some bad news via text. Anissa goes looking for comfort afterwards and gets her own big surprise. The funeral did have one surprise guest, who lurked in the distance watching. Tobias comes to a decision about what to do with some of the tech that’s too old for Todd’s skills.


What I liked: As important as Khalil was to several of the main characters, I’m glad they are treating his death and its aftermath the way they are. I’m very interested in the hints at Jace’s background and want to see if this leads to another character Black Lightning has strong ties to. I like that she and O’Dell are actively doing things, not just waiting around for the main characters to get back to them. Jennifer is maturing quickly, and I admire how she stood up to Lowry, with both what she did and didn’t do. It was painful to see Anissa beaten on the way she was, but I’m hoping she learns a bit from it. Gambi’s supportive attention to her, and his asking her to think about what she’s doing, was well done.

What I didn’t: The irksome trend of having Gambi as the token good white guy, and all other whites on the show obnoxious, evil, or both, needs to get reined in a bit. Anissa’s side mission should have had some much more serious consequences, although I’m glad it didn’t. Lowry is a jerk, but Jefferson’s not doing that well with him either. I’m surprised Jefferson still has his job, considering how rarely we see him there. I still want to know what happened to the teleporting bad ass from a few episodes ago.


Even with the flaws, it was a good episode. Jennifer’s stand at the school really impressed me. I’ll give this one a 4 out of 5.