After four seasons, fifty-eight episodes, and far too much Tobias Whale, Black Lightning finally comes to an end. I’m going to miss this show, although not some of the recurring situations the characters kept trapping themselves in. They’ve drawn heavily on characters and situations from the Outsiders, a team Batman founded and Black Lightning was a founding member of, and they sneak in one last reference at nearly the end of the show. Things come to a close in “The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two: Closure.” As both a season and series finale, and given that I’m a few weeks late posting this, there will be many spoilers. Readers are warned.
Last episode ended with Whale calling JJ with the shocking news that he had killed Jefferson Pierce, the titular hero and head of the family the show is about. The team freaks out, and Gambi, despite his best efforts, can’t find any indication that this isn’t true. Most of them are stunned and grief-stricken, but Anissa remains focused on what needs to be done: the emitter taken out, powers restored, and Whale dealt with. Gambi agrees and gets back to tracing the elusive, and stolen, emitter. Anissa vows she will deal with Whale. While Whale himself gives a speech about the past being gone and buried (no double meaning there) and invoking a very divisive political figure, Shakur goes to Lopez’s office and sees what she’s been up to. He calls in a warning to Black Lightning who, of course, isn’t answering his phone right now.
Jefferson himself wakes up looking really bad and in dire circumstances. Whale wasn’t being metaphorical earlier. The wonderful wizard that is Gambi finds the emitter that’s draining everyone’s powers, but it’s being guarded by Drakestone, described as “Blackwater with tech.” The group plots, and Gambi warns everyone not to underestimate Whale. Then, to no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention lately, JJ is suddenly gone. Back up to the ionosphere, recharging her powers, but there’s a very strange energy effect in her wake. Lynn, remaining behind at the Sanctum while the others charge off into battle, sees JJ come back, and is very worried about her, especially when JJ gets woozy from her last trip up there. Lynn mourns the loss of Jefferson, and as soon as she’s out the door to check on a few things, JJ tells TC she’s going to go hit the tunnels. Things keep getting weird in the ionosphere, and Jefferson rages from inside his prison.
This leads us to a flashback from thirty years ago, when young Jefferson lost control of his powers and killed a gunman from the 100. Gambi, looking much the same as he does now, cleans up after and does his best to reassure Jefferson and encourage him about controlling his powers. The young man is not convinced, and then we’re back to the present and Jefferson in his current predicament. In the ionosphere, the weird effects we’ve been seeing coalesce into Jennifer, the original Lightning, who swoops down towards Freeland with a purpose. TC and JJ are going through the tunnels, presumably looking for a way to get back at Whale although that’s never made clear, when Jennifer appears. Any thought at this being some kind of weird accident or misunderstanding is immediately wiped away when the shocked JJ blurts out, “I killed you!” Jennifer seems amused and just shakes her head.
The team going after the emitter is Gambi, backed up by the still depowered Blackbird and Grace. Gambi goes very James Bond, dealing with guards and using cool gadgets, while Thunder and Grace brutally eliminate some enemies, but weirdly never stop to pick up any of their weapons. Because reasons? That’s a long-running adventure trope that really needs to go away. Gambi manages to find the emitter and blow it to hell, then get surrounded by enemy thugs. Before anything too bad can happen, Grace and Thunder, powers restored, charge in and flatten the bad guys. Grace even seems to be enjoying having her powers back. JJ and Jennifer do battle in the tunnels, and we hear JJ’s odd backstory. It’s not exactly the same, with some important things being reversed, but it bears some similarity to the story of Halo, another member of the Outsiders. Jefferson, down in his tomb, has accepted his fate and gets some really impressive last words, showing his piety and how much he cares for others.
Team Gambi comes out from their successful mission and gets pinned down by Drakestone snipers. While Gambi drops a few, Thunder takes most of the shots. For weapons that were supposed to be the big, bad, anti-meta gear, she does remarkably well with them, although she is, eventually, overpowered. JJ and Jennifer continue their power duel, and Jefferson gets more odd flashbacks of his life, and has a chat with his late father. One nicely done, surreal bit for this conversation is Jefferson going back and forth between his younger self and the current version. Detective Shakur gets a call from one of the police techs, and they see just how far around the bend Chief Lopez has gone. Bizarrely, although she’s pulling lots of energy off the city power grid, there are no reports of power fluctuations or losses anywhere. Shakur mobilizes the Task Force, with a few extras, to try and stop the chief from blacking out the city.
Jefferson feels the return of his powers, but can’t access any electricity from where he is. Instead, relying on his father’s parting words, he draws on the promethium that Gambi has reported is all over the city. Tobias buried Jefferson alive, but Black Lightning makes a very dramatic escape. Soaring through the city, Black Lightning calls in to the team, gets to tell them he is not, in fact, dead, and gets a location for Tobias. Lopez, evidently power-mad, swears to kill Lightning in front of a lot of witnesses and body cams. That’s not going to go well for her down the road. Shakur tires to talk her down, but to no effect. Jennifer defeats and then absorbs JJ, which was an odd ending to the conflict, and then goes to check on TC, who JJ blasted earlier.
Triumphant and annoyed, Lightning lands near Lopez, banters a bit, and then easily bests her. For such a long setup, this was kind of an anti-climactic payoff. Shakur thanks her, none of the cops that were supposed to be hunting her do anything, and Lighting walks off. I guess it was either more dramatic or she was too tired to fly. Black Lightning arrives at Tobias’ office, and a battle royale ensues. The villain is his usual overconfident, sneering, and insulting self, while Black Lightning is bent on defeating this maniac finally. It’s an ugly fight, with not a lot of cool moves but a great deal of simple, brutal, almost realistic violence between two men who hate each other. Tobias plays a big part in defeating himself through ego and showmanship, and, for his last words, choses some lines from Moby Dick that are probably the most self-aware we’ve ever seen the villain who would be king.
Powers restored, TC gets on his computer and travels to the weird space inside Khalil/Painkiller’s head. He tells them about Tobias’ death, and that he’s found a way to end the kill order that overwhelms them when they get close to any of the Pierces. Unfortunately, getting rid of the kill order will wipe out all memory of the Pierce family. It’s good comic book logic and would have been a great setup for the proposed but now not happening spinoff Painkiller was supposed to get. It’s almost over now, but for a party and an epilogue.
The full Pierce clan gathers for a celebration with fancy clothes, balloons, and music. They won, which is good, but Tobias is dead, Jefferson played a part in it, Lopez has gone nuts, and the city is once again without either a mayor or a police chief. Maybe not the best time for a wedding celebration? Gambi and Lynn have a heart to heart, Anissa and Grace are cute together, and Jennifer addresses some issues with a bit of help from TC. They at least touch on the fact that everyone was fooled by JJ, not just forgetting about it like a lot of shows would, so points for that. Jefferson and Lynn announce they are getting remarried, which seems at odds with some things we’ve seen over this season, but I guess they are going for the happy ending. Also, Jefferson is retiring as Black Lightning and Gambi from being his tech-support/secret agent back up, placing Freeland’s safety in the hands of Thunder, Lightning, and Wylde. Wylde, which is what Grace is apparently going by now, was the codename of yet another obscure character from the Outsiders. As they enjoy their final toast, we return to Whale’s office. All the chaos from their earlier battle tore the place up, and freed Lala from his cement prison. Weirdly, Whale’s body is exactly where we saw it last, and Lala ends up uttering the final line of the series (which according to IMDB was improvised).
What I liked: While I saw some of this coming, I’m glad Tobias was defeated and the good guys got their powers back. Gambi was cool and reliable and helped quietly save the day up to the very end. The JJ reveal wasn’t quite what I expected, but, as I said, fit the general Outsiders theme. Grace now going by Wylde was a nice touch along those lines, as well. The Painkiller setup was elegant; it’s too bad we won’t see the show. Lala’s escape made sense. Black Lightning’s rising from the grave was visually dramatic and a nicely done scene. I do like that they at least touched on everyone being taken in by JJ, except for Jefferson.
What I didn’t: I’m not sure how I wanted this to end, but Whale dying like that wasn’t it. It was also weird they had that party when they did and no one found/moved Whale’s body. After such big buildups, the DEG’s and Lopez both kind of fizzled in the end. Where was Val? Whale having a null by his side would have changed that fight a LOT. It would have been nice if Lauren, Gambi’s love interest, had made the party, or the final episode at all. Jefferson hanging up the mask brings him back where the series started, and that’s not much a journey for four seasons. I’m also not clear on where that decision came from, or why he and Lynn are thinking getting married is a good plan.
I am sorry it’s over, and that Painkiller’s spinoff didn’t happen. I’ll miss this show and the characters. Gambi was a personal favorite, and we’ll probably never see him again, even if some of the rumored Black Lightning cameos occur.
I’ll give this finale a 3 out of 5, and the series as a whole a 4 out of 5.
Goodbye Black Lightning, the Pierce clan, friends and allies. You’ll be missed.