Black Lightning: The Book of Reconstruction: Chapter Two: Unacceptable Losses

Get off my lawn!!!

The beginning of Black Lightning’s final season was a surprise in many ways. None of the characters seem to be doing particularly well, dealing with the aftermath of the Markovian attack. The status quo has definitely been changed for just about everyone. Now they have to try and pick up the pieces and move on, although no one seems that interested in either picking up or moving on. It’s a grim new world for Freeland, the Pierce family, and those closest to them in “The Book of Reconstruction: Chapter Two: Unacceptable Losses.” I will absolutely miss this show when it’s over, but I won’t miss the penchant for ridiculously long titles.

The episode opens with Chief Lopez giving a morale speech. I think it’s supposed to be for her officers, although several others seem to be listening in, notably Gambi. She’s more than ready to declare war on the 100, the Kobra Cartel, and the city’s metahumans. I guess all the good done by Black Lightning, Thunder, Blackbird, and Lightning don’t really matter to her. Particularly disturbing is her talking about the police getting powerful new weapons to deal with metas. This bodes ill for all the good guys, and some of the bad. We hear that the 100 are led by Lala, the Cartel, in Eve’s absence, by Destiny. Honestly, there have been a few too many resurrections for me to remember what Eve’s current status is. I know she died at one point, and came back at least once. I can’t recall where she is now.

One of Destiny’s high-end card games gets interrupted by a crew of gunmen. Most of the guards prove useless, but Destiny is a deadly accurate shot. Later, Lala rages at the news of his team’s failure, and tells his head henchman Devonte to get some of the new guns the police are acquiring. Of particular interest to Lala are Blackbird and

Lightning. It’s a bad time to be a Pierce. While Lala makes his plans, Jefferson continues to act oddly and recklessly. He gets up, wanders out to the front porch, and then screams and lets go with a huge burst of his power. Evidently Gambi’s concerns about Jefferson’s health are well-founded, as he has a bad reaction to this. This is a bad move on many fronts, and leads to an awkward scene with Lynn later. Not done with her day of difficulty, Lynn then has a talk with Jennifer about the many things she’s ignoring. It doesn’t go well.

            We get a better idea of the work situation for some of the characters as we meet Darius, a new employee at the hospital/lab Lynn evidently runs. Anissa works there, too, and she and Darius have an entertaining scene together. As this happens, Tobias adds something new and apparently unpleasant to his health regimen, and meets with his two aides. Val and Red don’t get along at all, which amuses Tobias. That sounds about right. He really is a despicable man on every front. Tobias gets a new toy and immediately uses it to cause problems for one of the major characters. He also has some plans for at least one neighborhood in town that sound ugly.

            The still-nameless therapist from last episode is back, and seeing Jefferson and Lynn separately as well as a couple. I kind of like the anonymous older woman. Lynn walks through some of her problems, and paints a really unbalanced picture of her life. Jefferson finishes his own day at work and has a run-in with an old enemy. It’s a smirking, gloating confrontation that leaves no doubt at all about the true evil and villainy of this antagonist. I really hope there’s some justice here before the series ends. The scene additionally shows a new difficulty in trying to deal with this foe. Also wrapping their workday up, Anissa agrees to go for a drink with Darius, possibly as a

distraction at first when Grace’s condition takes an odd turn. The two talk about their lives, and have one of those conversations that resonates on several levels. Anissa gets an alert about a gunfight nearby, and ducks out to help. Unfortunately for her, Darius, too, is a dedicated doctor, so whichever identity she was going to change to has to wait.

            Lynn sits at home, drinking alone (yeah, she’s doing well) when Jen comes in. Lynn again starts bringing up all manner of things Jen would rather not deal with. Jen gets what is presumably the same alert that Anissa did, and takes off, to Lynn’s displeasure. I’m not sure what Lynn was expecting to happen there. After Jen’s departure, Lynn shows she has her own plans for the evening. As Lightning soars through the skies, she calls Gambi for intel, and gets no answer. Undeterred, the young hero arrives at the fight. Her arrival is showy, dramatic, and gets everyone to stop shooting for at least a few moments. Taking charge, Lightning first tells the civilians to run for safety, then instructs the combatants to drop their weapons and walk away. Most of them do. One hardcase decides to try and fight, and gets some unexpected interference. The brief fight doesn’t go well for the good guys, and Lightning gets hurt by losing control of her abilities, then soars off to heal herself. There’s more clumsiness with secret identities, another call for Gambi that goes unanswered, and some healing.

            Gambi’s radio silence is explained as we see him at dinner once again with Lauren, his former coworker who keeps offering him a job with the mysterious Monovista. I don’t recognize that company from any DC Comic or tv show, but anything involved in high tech with a name that loosely translates as “One Vision” doesn’t sound good to me. There are some interesting developments with Gambi and Lauren. Anissa and Darius arrive after the fight is over, but their skills are still needed.

            Taking his turn at solo drinking, Jefferson broods until Lynn comes home. They clash about what she’s been up to, and both make some valid points. Lynn is definitely not consistent on some issues, and I don’t blame Jefferson for being annoyed about it. Then again, he’s no paragon of pretty much anything of late, except maybe rage and self-pity. Darius and Anissa do their best, but find they have limits in what they can do. I wonder if Anissa feels she could have done more if she’d been able to go into action. That, oddly, is never addressed in the episode.

            Later at work, Darius and Anissa share their sadness and Anissa offers some hopeful words to her new friend. I think Anissa might be the best adjusted and healthiest of the Pierces at this point, but that’s a low bar. In his office, Jefferson talks with someone who is going through some very tough times, and is shocked as he learns the depths of the man’s misfortune. After this difficult scene, Jefferson takes his turn with the therapist, talking about entanglement, and his own feelings of frustration and helplessness. The therapist makes some good points, and who knows? He might even listen. But I’m not holding my breath. Not done with his long day, Jefferson goes to the Grotto, or what I guess is the new version of it. It seems a lot bigger in addition to a lot brighter and more high-tech. Jefferson demands answers about why Gambi wasn’t answering the coms last night, and then they have an argument about how to deal with some of the tragedy from the previous night. I’m glad Gambi stood up to Jefferson in this scene, and it wouldn’t hurt the Pierce family to realize they’ve been taking the older man for granted and he’s not, in fact, under any obligation to sit there and wait for them to ask for his help. Gambi later goes out and keeps doing what he thinks is right.

            The episode has had a lot of messy scenes, and the next one is no exception. Jennifer and Anissa go to see Lynn, and while their intentions are good and they even have some valid concerns, they handle it horribly. Lynn isn’t overly inclined to listen to reason in general, and certainly not when confronted this way. Lynn also seems to be oddly concerned and even upset that Jennifer can heal herself, which I didn’t follow at all. In a much better meeting, Gambi goes to see Lauren at work. The way he gets shown in indicates to me that the company has a lot to hide. Gambi reverses an earlier decision, and I’m not entirely clear on his motives. Then again, I’m not sure he is, either.

            In the aftermath of recent tragedy, Blackbird isn’t playing games anymore. She forcibly brings Lala and Destiny to a summit and lays out a new deal. On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense, and even Lala and Destiny see the merits of what she’s proposing. On the other, Blackbird has not hesitated to do violence, and has the heads of both major criminal organizations right in front of her. So she hammers out a deal with two very untrustworthy people and lets them go? Granted, if it holds, the deal will do some of the most helpless a world of good, but that relies on them keeping their word. I guess we’ll see how this spins out. If Blackbird knew how to lay hands on both of these people so easily, I don’t really get why she’s allowing them to keep operating freely.

            None of the wrap up scenes offer a lot of hope moving forward. Gambi’s doing some research, which at least might help some people. Lynn is doing more theorizing about her big project, and then gets distracted by another update about the problems in the city. She replays several earlier conversations and then, in my opinion, confirms something Jefferson said earlier. Jefferson himself does some more solo drinking, then

makes a call, reaching out to an ally we haven’t seen yet this season. He finds out what he wanted to, and makes another ill-advised outing, really not dressing for the occasion. Jefferson is getting more and more comfortable with casual violence, and it’s going to come back on him. If the other heroes don’t come check up on him, his own family might have to do an intervention. If that doesn’t work, I see bad things ahead with the new police chief and her stated mission.

What I liked: Gambi stood up for himself, and has showed he has a life outside the Pierce family. I’m really hoping they realize how they’ve been treating him, but none of them seem open to introspection at this point. I like the therapist, and hope she manages to do some good in spite of both Jefferson and Lynn. Monovista is intriguing and ominous. Some new abilities demonstrated this episode are big twists, although I don’t know how much sense they make. I was glad to see that at least some of last season’s characters are still around.

What I didn’t: This is getting really, really dark. I’ve never hugely liked Lynn, and at this point I’m starting to not like Jefferson much. I feel bad for him, but I’m having trouble liking him. I mentioned some concerns with Blackbird’s meeting above. A lot of shows have some tearing down to build up aspects to them, but this is starting way down after what was mostly a big victory. If he’s getting his own spinoff soon, you’d think Khalil would at least make an appearance.

I’m not usually a huge fan of grim and dark, but I will say they’re doing it well and I understand how everyone got where they are. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5. I hope Freeland and its heroes are in a better place by the end of the season and series.