Black Lightning Recap: Black Jesus

Season 1 / Episode 4 / CW
Writer: Pat Charles
Director: Michael Schultz

Today, somebody is freaking out in the boy’s bathroom at Garfield High. Jefferson isn’t down for homeboy practicing his urinal chucking and manages to knock him out with two electric shocks. Now I’m no doctor, but I don’t think shocking someone in the middle of their drug-induced freak-out is the best plan out there… Anyway, school security shows up late and clearly shit must go down at this school because he immediately knows it’s a bad trip.

Anissa is on her way to be…late for school… and catches two of her students about to buy some drugs in broad fucking daylight. She confronts our intrepid salesmen who respond by showing off their glock like they’re not selling drugs in broad fucking daylight. Anissa, high off her powers but not realizing that strong doesn’t mean bulletproof, doesn’t immediately back down from the threat. She gets called a “bitch” but gets back in her car. She ain’t gotta stay. She got their faces burned in her memory and she got time to-DAY. They don’t even know they in danger.

Jefferson takes the drugs he found on his student to Peter who explains they must be the new drug the kids all like, Tide Po- I mean Green Light. He mentions the crimes of the last three episodes as if we didn’t open the premiere with a news report on how crime in Freedland had gotten so out of hand, the police couldn’t do anything. Jefferson hits the streets that night for some good old-fashioned, Batman-style torture. He gets a name for his efforts before punching dude out and leaving him with lasting brain damage.

In her funeral parlor, the good Lady Eve threatens Tobias Whale with an anthropological anecdote disguised as a history lesson disguised as a pep talk while embalming a body. While they compete to see who can hit their consonants harder, she expresses her displeasure over Black Lightning being much less dead than they all thought. Also, Khalil was gonna go to the Olympics AND OH SHIT THAT DUDE SHE’S EMBALMING IS STILL ALIVE WTF IS EVEN HAPPENING RIGHT NOW????

Jefferson meets with Bathroom Blitz Bernard and his father. The board wants to expel him because he was doing drugs in school (a Drug-Free Zone) but Jefferson wants to give him another chance. Bad Choices Bernard doesn’t seem too concerned about his future despite reciting the school’s motivational chant. Jefferson says he wants what’s best for his students like they not graduating and joining gangs and shit and we finally find out that Pencil-Skirt Ms. Fardy is the Vice Principal. I’m sorry, I thought you were his secretary too…my bad… Armed with a name, Jefferson calls Peter who is watching the coroner pick up dude’s body (and drops a friggin Biggie quote, WHO THE HELL IS THIS GUY??). Jefferson continues to know nothing, Peter continues to know EVERYTHING, and we continue to wonder WTF Jefferson been doing the last nine years because he don’t know a damn thing.

Khalil struggles through his physical therapy with Jen right there to support him. The nurses start talking trash in the hallway right outside of the treatment room because no one on this show is good at their job. Jen calls them out but Khalil is determined to get back to his old self. Jen breaks down in the hall outside because that shit is sad and she’s been through a lot in the past few weeks. Where are her parents??

Tobias drops by to chat with his dude at the coroner’s office. Turns out there was some mix-up and dude just assumed that they had brought in Black Lightning’s body. But you know what they say when you assume. You get beat to death with some brass knuckles. Tough break. Literally, the skull is really hard.

Jefferson and Lynn are waiting on the couch when Jen gets home from the hospital. She’s in trouble for not answering her phone and skipping track practice. She let them know that her phone died while she was helping Khalil with his physical therapy, which is also why she left track practice. Khalil’s mom is working extra shifts to pay for his hospital bills so Jen is helping out where she can’t. Jefferson and Lynn proceed to be the worst fucking parents ever and tell Jen she needs to spend less time with Khalil. Khalil got hit by the bullet aimed at Black Lightning and Jefferson is like, “He’ll be alright. N***** get shot every day, B.” This is so trash I have no words. NEXT SCENE!

This time Jen skips family dinner but the Hendersons are over for a visit. Anissa, still feeling her new powers, is over marching and praying. She thinks somebody (she) should get out there and fight. She shades the police, slightly, and Henderson brings up the collateral damage like the news isn’t constantly reporting the Freedland police shooting another unarmed Black person. Lynn gives the most transparent, passive-aggressive argument about Black Lightning’s family before Anissa rants a whole lot and abruptly bounces. She finds the two dealers from earlier on her Snapchat friends map and rolls up in a black hoodie. Then I think she kills them because I guess she didn’t realize hitting two regular ass dudes with the same force she used to kick a Maytag across a junkyard probably equals insta-death. World of Cardboard, just ask Superman. I wonder if that episode of Justice League exists in this world.

Jefferson drops by The Spot to see his old friend Two Bits because everybody has the worst gang names. Sidebar: How close to not cheating was Jefferson “I can turn into electricity” Pierce being on the track team? Just wondering. Anyway, Jefferson suggests Two Bits get out of the drug business which goes about as well as you’d think. Two Bits tells Jefferson to say hi to the family for him and Jefferson does not return the favor. Shady.

Jefferson stops by Peter’s and finds out that Green Light is highly, highly, HIGHLY addictive. Turns out Black Lightning’s return made the 100 up their organizational structure. But no matter, Black Lightning’s headed back to the bar to hand out some concussions. Two Bits tries to talk Black Lighting out of letting him get arrested (for selling a drug that’s been killing people) on his third strike because they’re throwing Black men in prison forever. That’s…not the same… He tries to get a pic and gets a concussion instead.

Khalil is watching some track footage on The Ocho and contemplating giving a TV interview. Jen tells him she quit the track team but he’s too into this track meet. Jen’s hurt, of course. Khalil is focused on getting better, of course. Both of these kids need some PTSD therapy from a licensed, certified adult because this is not them handling it well.

Just to drive the point home about how out of touch the board is, they send in a white woman as their rep. They still want to expel Bender Strongman Bernard because using drugs in school and busting up a bathroom during your freakout is absolutely an expellable offense. But Jefferson thinks they don’t understand the youths.

That night we get a driving tour of Atlanta…I mean Freedland…as Tobias’ little sister drops in him. He’s busy feeding live rats to his pet piranhas. I guess that’s supposed to make him look bad but I gave my newt live fish to eat so… Anyway, sis is here to help him figure out how to kill Black Lightning. The family that slays together, I guess. Hopefully, murder is the only vice they share…

Also that night, Black Lightning is staking out the warehouse Two Bits told him about. Peter outfitted his mask with some electric vision which works kinda like x-ray vision but for somebody with electric powers. Science. Meanwhile, Anissa is helping Grace close up the bar at night. But some dudes show up ready to fight because they hate lesbians. Grace tries to call the cops but ends up with her own non-superhero concussion thanks to the asphalt. Anissa puts up her hood, like they hadn’t already seen her face, and gets to work. Peter pulls up her super-stomp on the security cam and takes the chance to delete more footage. He sends Black Lightning off then runs off to the scene of the second crime with his sawed-off shotgun.

Anissa gives Grace an icepack and asks her deep questions instead of taking her to the hospital. Grace…has a concussion and probably brain swelling.

Tobias and his sister Tori decide that the best way to beat Black Lightning is to turn everyone against him because that always works. So they send Khalil a PS4, sneakers, pay his medical bills, and his momma’s rent. In a huge piece of poor decision making, they let Jefferson be the one to tell Khalil that there’s no way he’s going to walk again. It goes as well as you think.

Back at the school, after hours for some reason, Vice Principal Fowdy tells Jefferson that the board doesn’t trust his decision-making skills. Honestly, I can understand that. Jefferson, chest hurting from the feels, calls Lynn to talk it out. But nobody knows how to handle trauma in a healthy way in this family so she just blows him off. Y’all need to do better. Bathroom Basher Bernard’s dad calls because I guess somebody forgot to check in after they learned how ridiculously addictive Green Light is. Poppa got pistol whipped trying to get his son out of the trap house. The police are, of course, useless. Guess Inspector Henderson was off the clock… Black Lightning shows up instead, blasts a few guys, beats some more with a bent baseball bat, then carries Bad Trip Bernard out The Bodyguard style.

This makes them get Bernard into rehab like they should’ve done after he OD’d in school but that would be being good at their job. And, just in case you weren’t totally sold on Jefferson being bad at his job, he listens to Lynn’s apology voicemail where she talks about Black Lightning…in his office…on speakerphone… What even is a secret identity?

Tobias somehow sneaks past hospital security to pop up in Khalil’s room after hours. Tobias fesses up to sending all the gifts and tries to Jedi Mind Trick Khalil into hating Black Lightning. Really all he has to say is “The bullet that paralyzes you was meant for Black Lightning” and boom. Instant supervillain. But that would’ve been too easy.

Watching Black Lightning? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.

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