Black Lightning S01E04 "Black Jesus"

This is the first of the four episodes that made me worried about a plotline Black Lighting is attempting. To cause the people to turn against Black Lightning (in an episode aptly titled "Black Jesus"), Tobias has set his eyes firmly on Khalil, one of his victims from the previous episode. We find out that Khalil's spinal cord is completely severed—he will never walk again. Stories dealing with disability are often not handled with the grace and care that they need to be. Khalil waking up to see Tobias sitting next to him was absolutely terrifying and unsettling. However having the only disabled character we've seen be targeted in the hopes of bringing down Black Lightning is not a good look considering the negative societal attitudes towards disabled people.

The rest of the episode did bring the shock I love about the show. The new drug on the street is Green Light: the first taste is free. We meet a student named Bernard who Jefferson literally has to shock to keep himself from being hurt after Bernard throws a urinal across the room. This leads into conversations through the episode about school disciplinary actions, about how drug addictions easily cause the life of the user to deteriorate, and how drugs get into a community.

There's a possibility the drug has been brought into this community to counteract the powers of Black Lightning. He has powers; street dealers do not. A fight becomes more fair when one can counter the powers of a metahuman. A fight also becomes more fair if one has powers when standing against people with guns.

Anissa uses her powers to deliberately fight evil for the first time in this episode. It happens after a dinner argument about Black Lighting with her mom and Henderson. It was great to see Jefferson look so smug as his daughter unknowingly defended him. Words turn to action when Anissa fights the two men who were selling green light to students and had threatened her with their guns earlier. She pulls her hood down before knocking them unconscious. Sudden fear makes her check that both are breathing before calling for an ambulance: a conflict between justice and the reality of harm.

The second fight scene with Anissa lacks that same fear in the aftermath. We see her and Grace walking out from the bar where Grace works together. Last week gave us verbal confirmation that Anissa is a lesbian and there was the same feeling of delight hearing Grace say she's bi. It’'s a breath of fresh air to not only hear those words spoken, but to see both identities on the same show portrayed by women of color. Unfortunately there are often negative responses to not being straight. After Grace gets knocked out by a man (motivated by misogynistic homophobia) targets her, Anissa doesn't hesitate for a second before kicking their asses. Grace wakes up in Anissa's lap, Anissa holding an ice pack to her head. It's a sweet yet sobering scene. This is one of the only times I've seen a hate crime treated with the care it deserves. It's also now clear that Anissa is not going to back down.

This happens at the same time that Black Lightning is canvassing with Gambi. The pair have figured out where the shipment of green light is coming from but Jefferson is distracted when he hears the crashes caused by Anissa stomping the ground. Gambi warns him that leaving might ruin their chances of finding out how green light is getting into the neighborhoods—an important question considering the increasing death count and how structured the system bringing in green light seems to be. Gambi once more hides information from Jefferson, adding grey to his character. Watching him grab a giant gun to investigate the footprints was wild but we’re once again left wondering why he didn’t point Jefferson towards what the video showed.

Jennifer spends most of the episode with Khalil, being as strong of a support as she can. It's a lot to put on a teenager and we see her breakdown briefly in the hallway. This constant support of Khalil does have a downside: her grades are slipping and she’s skipping track. In the intervention Jennifer tells her parents that she's quitting track. We haven't seen Jennifer run yet in the show but since Khalil will no longer be able to do track, it'll be interesting to see what pushes her into continue track. Past making intense eye contact with Jefferson during the amazing dinner scene the most we see of Lynn is during a stressful conversation she had with him when he called her in a moment of need. They're still exes, though. The show is not going to put them back together in this moment because of Black Lightning. However, when she calls him back she apologizes. We can see the love and the sparks that have been woven through the show so far.

Back to Tobias: we find out that he has a sister who comes into town to help kill Black Lightning. That's all we know about her for the moment but she's now our third villainess in the show. Our main villainess is always going to be Lady Eve who was terrifying in the one scene she was in. It was very uncomfortable to listen to her talk while she was doing… something to a body. Or, as it turns out, a person who was passed out but still alive. Lady Eve was very calm when talking to Tobias as sounds of a bar being pushed in and out of the man on the stretcher could be heard in the background. In her casual threats she points out some out of the oppressive viewpoints that people have had against people with albinism and how they’re seen as magical. His neck is clearly on the line now.


Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 PM EST on The CW
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Beatrice Onyekachi's picture
on February 9, 2018

I'm a Black lesbian ask me how. I'm a student who spends more time creating fandom content than focusing on her studies. I'm very excited to be a part of Geeks OUT!