The occupation of Freeland seems like it’s been going on forever, and now the various other forces are getting together to do something about it. An alliance is being formed, even as a death is mourned, someone fights for their life, and a relationship takes a nose dive. No one ever said the path to freedom was easy, and we get a lot of proof of that in “The Book of Resistance: Chapter One: Knocking on Heaven’s Door.” While we never get to hear it, this is the name of a classic song that’s been done by Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and many others.
Things start off on a somber note, with Anissa making one of those, “If you’re watching this, I’m dead,” videos. She’s resolved but obviously sad as she leaves a series of goodbyes and thank yous. She wraps it up with the old saying about evil triumphing when good does nothing, and her resolution to not do nothing. Setting the clock back 30 hours, the setting is Tavon’s funeral, after his ugly death at Painkiller’s deadly touch last episode. Jefferson, Lynn, and Anissa are there, clearly shaken by the death. Why Jennifer doesn’t attend is never explained or even mentioned. After discussing a secret identity in public, because that’s smart, Lynn continues to be the most tone-deaf person around, praising Jefferson for doing nothing, and irritating both Anissa and Jefferson. Giving Lynn a run for her money, Jamiliah Olsen decides this is the best time to ambush Jefferson for a quick interview. She pisses off everyone, but Jefferson does give her a few quotes.
What happens next is a bit confusing, as apparently there’s some off-screen action that gets referred to a lot throughout the rest of the episode. Jefferson gets home and gets lectured by Lynn for Black Lightning beating up some ASA agents and “Zorro-ing a lightning bolt into a building.” The two of them argue, and Lynn says some fairly outrageous and hurtful things before storming off to go back to work. Gambi tends to Anissa, who is also not doing well after fighting Painkiller. He gets some computer results that are troubling, and tells her about what’s happening. He goes to refine a treatment after they argue about telling her parents how dire things are.
Somewhere else in that busy and eventful night, Henderson leads a meeting of the resistance, bringing together several different players. They’re having trouble countering the ASA’s propaganda efforts, especially after their spokesman Truthteller Johnson turns up dead (there are a lot of important events off-screen here). They debate what to do next, and Henderson promises a new spokesman. Lynn goes to check on Tobias Whale, who remains an obnoxious jerk. In between making insinuations about them, he presents her with some demands and makes vague threats.
At her place, Anissa is on the couch, looking horrible, and evidently alone because Grace is… somewhere. Shonda the AI tells her that her father is at the door, and he does a lot of fevered knocking. Clearly very ill, Anissa poses herself before letting him in. They talk about Tavon’s death, compete for the blame and guilt, and she shoos him out before collapsing in a heap. She comes to back on the couch, with a very worried Grace tending to her. Anissa talks Grace out of calling anyone, and, after Grace goes upstairs for a shower, we see how Anissa’s symptoms are spreading. Jennifer is using her various powers to start a new career as a burglar, and makes some surprising discoveries about the mysterious Brandon. When he confronts her, there are even more surprises in store.
Already not having a great day, Jefferson comes downstairs to find Odell in his living room. They bluster and argue with each other, each threatening the other. Out on the streets, an ASA truck gets attacked by the mysterious teleporter we’ve seen before, who is apparently called Instant. Instant is working for the Markovians and gets them ASA gear. Henderson invites Jamalah to his office, threatens her some, and is oddly pleased when she remains defiant. He then makes her an offer that clearly intrigues her. Lynn dithers about doing something or not, and then pops another pill because sure, that’ll help. Brandon and Jennifer talk, and I’m beginning to think he’s a slightly renamed (and race-bent) version of a character with ties to Black Lightning in the comics. Gambi comes to a stunned realization while Lynn caves in and gives Tobias what he wants. Among his quips and snark, he gives Black Lightning an amusing new nickname.
Gambi gets to Anissa’s place, where Grace has once again found her on the floor. The older man gives Anissa his best attempt at a cure, and tells Grace to watch over her while he takes care of something. Odell gets a briefing from the very irksome Major Grey about some indications of trouble, and they go look into it. The Markovian team, along with Instant, gets trapped in an ASA facility and improbably shoots their way out. Black Lighting arrives late, and accidentally frees the Markovians. There’s a very surprising character death, some final insults and a test of Black Lightning’s refusal to kill (didn’t he spend most of season one plotting to kill Tobias?).
The end is near with various wrap-up scenes. Henderson brings his group together and starts a new phase of their guerrilla broadcasting. Instant gets Markovian Colonel Mosin back to his hidden base, argues, and leaves. Mosin talks with Dr. Jace about the likely status of Lynn’s research. Gambi does some research and shows the ASA were sloppy, lazy, or both about an important detail. Jefferson gets more surprises of the bad kind from Lynn, taking us back to their status quo when the series started, to end the episode on a real downer, for Jefferson at least.
What I liked: Instant (dumb name, cool power) is a very effective and dangerous close-in fighter. I’m intrigued by Jennifer’s discoveries about Brandon, and think my theory is decent. She’s being pig-headed (runs in the family) but I admire Anissa’s resolve. I feel really bad for Jefferson, who is in a bad spot on about every level. I approve of the apparent character death, and was surprised by it.
What I didn’t: I think I’d watch an episode that was an hour or so of most of the characters taking turns beating on Tobias Whale. God, the man is annoying, and his still having influence doesn’t make a lot of sense. The ASA was really short-sighted leaving the clue that Gambi found. I get she’s dealing with her new addiction and a lot of pressure, but I really don’t care for Lynn, especially how she treats Jefferson. Too many people left Anissa alone considering how ill she is. Why was Jennifer not at the funeral? Jamilah deserved a lot worse than she got at the funeral.
It was a good episode with several surprises, but a few flaws. I’ll give it a solid 3.5 out of 5.