Episode 6 of Black Lightning opens in the immediate aftermath of Black Lightning collapsing in front of a club after a failed fight with Joey Toledo. We see the police gathering together to ambush and arrest Black Lightning. The police chief had been tipped off by Joey but thanks to two fans who witness Black Lightning being saved, the police turn up empty handed. He gets away after the ever faithful Gambi picks him up in a medical van and takes him back to the secret hideout.
(Sidenote: does the hideout have a name? The basement of Gambi’s shop? Gambi's Secret Base Full Of Secrets? Little Tailor Shop of Horrors?)
Jefferson tries to put the moves on Lynn as she checks him out post knock out, as he usually does, but this time around he’s met with sharp anger. She immediately pulls her hands away when he touches them. We see the true stakes for possibly the first time in the entire season: Black Lightning lost a fight and was almost captured by the police. Lynn reiterates why she left in the first place and one can’t help but sympathize with her now more than ever. It’s clear that she still loves Jefferson Pierce but needed to leave for her own emotional and mental wellbeing.
However, things are always more tricky than they seem. Later in the episode Lynn and Anissa have a conversation about her relationship with her ex-husband. The perceptiveness of children is acknowledge in this scene as Anissa laments that her parents were never meant to be. The fighting of parents in a home falling apart is rarely fully hidden from the children. Anissa pointing out that Lynn seemed to be second in Jefferson’s life behind saving the city. This observation has a beautiful payoff because Lynn reevaluating her feelings and the failed relationship is what gave her the power to stop Jefferson from going over the edge.
The ever faithful Gambi is finally called out by Jefferson for deflecting every time Tobias is brought up. Jefferson now knows factually that Tobias is back in Freeland, giving him another chance to end the man who killed his father. We get a flashback of Jefferson’s father being murdered by Tobias, giving clarity to an earlier scene in one of the first episodes where Jefferson angrily remarks that Tobias killed his father with the articles written against Tobias. Gambi’s love for the Pierce family does not erase the fact that he’s in bed with Tobias and Lady Eve in exchange for family’s safety. No man can serve two masters and as we see more and more hints of secrets coming to light, it’s unlikely that Jefferson will see Gambi as faithful in any way, shape, or form.
Angered by Tobias’s confirmed presence leads Jefferson to look up characteristics of albinism to draw Tobias out into the open. No talking, no fighting. Jefferson is out for blood.
Since the introduction of the plotline with Khalil ending up in a wheelchair I’ve been very wary to see how the show would handle having a newly disabled character. Unfortunately the show confirmed my fears. It’s understandable that Khalil is angry and lashing out because of his new circumstances. It’s understandable that Khalil blames Jennifer for him being in a wheelchair because he only went to the march to support her. It’s not as understandable that he’d join in casually cyberbullying Jennifer considering he asked her out not too long ago. The least understandable thing is having Khalil align himself with Tobias at the end of the day. Tobias convincing Khalil that Black Lightning is the real problem isn’t quite a stretch and when one’s lost everything they’re at a position to work against their own self interests. However, violence is what led Khalil into the position he’s in. It’s ultimately not a good look to create a disabled character played by an abled character and then turn him to the side of the villain.
Disabled representation is so rare and turning a marginalized group into the a villain is rather ugly. Jennifer seems to handle the breakup and bullying rather well all things considered. It’s clear that she’s angry and hurt but she knows that she didn’t actually do anything wrong and her bullies are lashing out in resentment and embarrassment. The conversation she and Jefferson have touch on specific issues within the Black community but also reinforces that as a principle and a father Jefferson wants to look out for his daughters.
With a ripped directly from headlines plot revolving around protesting a statue celebrating a white supremacist, Anissa’s put on the center stage in this episode. Aptly titled "the Book of Thunder," getting arrested for peaceful protest leads to Thunder rising in full force. We see Jefferson rightfully angry and afraid for his daughter’s life. He points out that she won’t have the benefit of the doubt and all it takes is one cop to see her as a threat but he goes silent once a cop walks past them. The fear Lynn has for him is mirrored clearly in this scene. Just like in Charlottesville, a white supremacist drives into a protest and kills a white woman. Unlike Charlottesville, Thunder uses her sadness and anger to destroy the monument herself. Anissa realizes that she can’t keep this a secret anymore and goes to talk to her mother.
Lynn is the catalyst in this episode’s ending fight. Earlier we saw her compare the brain scans of patients under the influence of green light to Black Lightning’s scans—the activated areas of the brain are perfect matches. Lady Eve’s influence runs deep as proven by Lynn’s lab partner reporting the findings up the chain. This results in goons coming to steal research, completely unaware that Lynn’s still in the office. Right after Lynn talks Jefferson off the ledge of killing Tobias out of the open, glass shatters on her end and Black Lightning immediately goes to her aide. He’s beaten by Thunder, who shows that she is indeed bulletproof as she kicks the asses of both goons, causing them to run. But right as she begins to rescue her mother, Black Lightning shows up full of power and anger. Neither of them know who the other is and poor Lynn watches her husband and daughter fight as she’s speechless and tied up.
Thunder holds her own in her fight against Black Lightning, especially when one considers that she discovered her powers at most two months prior. She’s able to deflect his lightning, sidestep his lightning completely, cause him to fall with her reverberating stomp, and fight with her fists. He only gets control over her when he uses his lightning to smash her into the ceiling before dropping her. And he’s had years to perfect that move.
Anissa wakes up in her bed post-concussion, one tear rolling down her cheek as she stares at her mother. But when she turns and sees her father in the Black Lightning suit, we know there’s going to be hell to pay.