Everyone is having a rough time of it on Black Lightning’s third season. The ASA is acting like the Empire in the Star Wars movies, the resistance is nowhere near as organized as the Rebel Alliance, and our main family is coming apart. I’m really at a loss to explain some of the main characters’ actions this episode. At this point, the only major characters I’m still liking are Anissa (most of the time) and Gambi. We get a namedrop of a character with comic book ties to Black Lightning, but he meets a much different fate here. No one really has a good day in “The Book of Resistance: Chapter Two: Henderson’s Opus.” The title doesn’t even work, since Henderson isn’t the focus of the episode and he doesn’t do anything impressive enough to be called an opus.
We start off in Anissa’s loft, where Grace is getting more unstable on several fronts. Anissa gets home and tries to talk her down, and makes some promises about the future. We also find out there are some serious after-effects from Anissa’s recent illness. While Jennifer looks back at some of her painful past, Gambi confirms a suspicion with some help from his impressive computer array. Continuing her run for “Least Likeable Character,” Lynn arrives and bitches out Gambi for calling her over and not respecting her work. Showing he’s still every bit as sly as Odell, Gambi gets Lynn to do something for him while disguising his intentions. The resistance meets up, with Holt showing he can be remarkably naïve, Henderson getting worried about the ASA’s recent tactics, and Blackbird urging caution. Anissa being out in costume right now is a phenomenally bad idea. Henderson grimly comments they’ll have to improvise.
With Odell in the hospital (sadly doing better than I’d hoped), Major Grey decides to introduce herself to Jennifer. It’s not a smooth meeting, and they clash on a few topics. Jennifer shows that, in addition to being the most powerful of the Pierce clan, she just might be the slickest as well. Henderson and Holt try and take steps to get the next load of metas out of town (seriously, how many people have powers in Freeland now???), but their desperate plan gets shut down by some well-meaning and unknowing interference. Holt and Henderson are both annoyed at this development and the one that caused it.
One of the more tense scenes of the episode takes place in the Pierce living room, but doesn’t involve either daughter for once. Henderson storms in and gives Jefferson a long-overdue talking to. The two old friends argue, and Henderson scores a lot of points, calling Jefferson out on a lot of hypocrisy and double standards. They part on a very tense note, and I think it’s safe to say their friendship is seriously strained at the least. Elsewhere, Reverend Holt shares some recent events with Blackbird, and isn’t happy with Freeland’s main hero. Blackbird makes a call to try and find them a way out.
Down in the Pit, Lynn is working with Erica, a meta with the ability to absorb impact and channel it into physical strength. Lynn is also dealing with Dr. Matthew Blair, a fanboy recently assigned to work with her, who gets off what I’d say is the funniest line of the episode. The good times are interrupted when Major Grey shows up to demand a status report and make some unreasonable demands. Lynn makes some of her own demands in return, and then, when she gets a moment alone, does a favor for someone. Garfield High seems to be utterly lacking in teachers as we see students roam the halls. Jennifer seeks out Brandon, who isn’t happy about some of her recent behavior, and has good justification not to be. The school gets its own version of an active shooter drill (was that Lowry announcing it?), the two keep bickering, and Jennifer finally comes up with something to keep Brandon interested.
There’s a tense scene when the ASA raids the church, but Reverend Holt and his charges come out of it fairly well, all things considered. Anissa invites her father over, who has some justifiable reservations about coming in. She uses a combination of pleading, emotional manipulation, and guilt to get him to agree to a big favor. Gambi infiltrates the Pit with some help, while out on the streets there’s a nasty confrontation between the ASA and some resistance. The firefight rages on briefly, and we meet Sgt. Gardener Grayle, who is the Atomic Knight in the comics. Originally, he was one of DC’s many post-apocalypse characters who was later reimagined as a man with prophetic dreams who acted on them with high tech armor and joined the Outsiders, fighting alongside Black Lightning. Here, he works for the ASA. Black Lighting shows up and takes some really questionable action. None of the rest of the scene goes well. While Gambi does some research, Gray and Black Lightning argue, especially after her men commit yet another atrocity. The only one who seems to not be happy with his side’s tactics is Sgt. Grayle.
The next scene furthers Lynn’s “Least Likable Character” bid. Gambi shows her something she is utterly shocked by, and the mindset of a secret agent clashes with that of an idealistic, if erratic, doctor. They argue, Lynn does some snooping, and then finds out some more terrible things about the ASA and their star field operative. Lynn turns on Gambi and snaps at him just as badly as she has been at Jefferson, and they part after Lynn makes another demand, then pops more pills after the spy leaves. Jennifer manipulates Brandon similarly to how she did Gray, but he has a shorter temper. They argue, and I’d say she’s both not treating him fairly and not taking his concerns seriously.
Realizing she’s out of options and still not at her best, Anissa tearfully hands Grace over to Black Lightning in order to get her safely out of the city. A lot of promises are made, a gift is given, and Black Lightning gets sent his next destination. Not everyone is happy to see him, and a former admirer holds him at gunpoint until the ASA thugs force the situation. Black Lightning takes the group of refugees to the proposed exit point, but they meet up with more ASA thugs. Things turn ugly, and I don’t think Black Lightning’s uneasy alliance with the ASA is going to survive this one. Somehow, Grace gets separated from everyone during this, and he has to go find her. My hopes for Grayle’s future get dashed here, but Grace eventually meets up with Black Lightning again, revealing she knows a secret. We also learn that Anissa pulled a trick here that made Gambi proud of her.
The last two scenes are set up for things to come. Jennifer, once again home alone and perched on her rooftop spot, gets something she wanted and looks very pleased. Khalil does more brutal “training,” and I’m surprised at this point anyone agrees to spar with him. His casual brutality and sadistic enjoyment get put on hold when he gets a new assignment that’s going to make for an interesting showdown.
What I liked: It was a well-written, if difficult to watch, episode. I give Henderson a lot of points for doing everything he can and taking Jefferson down a few pegs. Gambi is doing his best to help everyone, and is a quiet, steady, amazingly useful resource to those smart enough to listen. The Gardener Grayle cameo was a nice nod to comic geeks like me. Anissa is mature and smart enough to do the hard, but right, thing, and pulled a good stunt here. Jennifer is slick, I’ll give her that.
What I didn’t: Black Lightning seems to be trying to work both sides of the street, and it’s just not possible at this point. He needs to pick a side, and I can’t see any reason at all for it to be the ASA. I’ve commented on other CW DC shows having a general indifference to deaths around them, and that seems to be creeping in here. I don’t like how Jennifer is treating Brandon, or most of how she’s acting in general. I really don’t care for this latest character swing of Lynn’s. She desperately needs an intervention, but she’s pushing away and possibly alienating everyone who’d care enough to try.
It was a complicated episode with a lot of things to think about. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5.