Brief Thoughts On ‘Black Lightning’ Season 4, Episode 10
by Erik Amaya
Well, at least all those cliffhangers were quickly resolved.
This week’s Black Lightning began the process of tying all of Tobias’s (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) various schemes into a coherent thread. But, as tends to happen, the show cannot give up the marital tensions between Jefferson (Cress Williams) and Lynn (Christine Adams), which means even as the endgame comes into the near-distance, the show is still spinning its wheels. So let’s take a look at the latest reason for the Pierce parents to fight.
This time, the issues is the arrival of Lynn’s lawyer. We’re told they went to college together, but Anissa’s (Nafessa Williams) knowledge of him suggests they may have reconnected in a romantic fashion during Lynn’s long separation from Jeff. His appearance in the Freeland PD interrogation room, though, immediately sets Jeff on edge and … we’re not here for it. Four seasons into this show — three and a half episodes left until it ends — and only now we’re introducing a romantic rival? Alternatively, Jeff may just be perceiving him as a rival because he has legal prowess beyond anything Black Lightning can do. It’s an interesting idea, but it’s also way too late in the narrative to introduce it. But then again, we’re tired of the conflict between Jefferson and Lynn — and considering the way she was violated while in police custody last week, his complete disregard for her well-being to wallow in jealousy is really off-putting.
But character assassination seems to be the name of the game as far as Jefferson Pierce is concerned, both within the narrative and outside the show…
As it happens, destroying the Pierces is an aspect of Tobias’s plan. Although, it looks like his true aim is a seat on the Board. This feels like something he’s tried before, but didn’t all the Boardmembers end up dead the last time? Either way, becoming mayor of Freeland is key to getting his seat even thought he already has control of the local gangs and the police. He even got Ishmael (Rico Ball) to sign on with him. At the same time, it also seems like the Board may jerk him around some more even if he accomplishes that.
To lay out the pieces: he invested in Lynn’s clinic so she would extract the meta-blocking power from Val (Helen Joo Lee), he also intimidated Monovista leadership to get a hold of the emitter, which (essentially) aerosolized the meta-blocker so only the metas on his payroll can function. Meanwhile, he is also using his prongs within law enforcement to establish an embezzlement case against Jeff and accuse Lynn of civil rights abuses. On any other show, tying his revenge against the Pierces to his master plan to dominate Freeland would be his undoing, but you never know if Black Lightning will do the obvious thing.
Just look at the way Khalil (Jordan Calloway) is slowly unraveling Tobias’s extortion apparatus.
Meanwhile, the ways in which the characters reacted to the loss of their powers was far more interesting than any of the main plot threads. J.J. (Laura Kariuki) believes her powers are the only thing left of her old life and is willing to end her new one to reclaim them. Anissa is ready spend the rest of her life to get them back while Grace (Chantal Thuy) suggests it could all be a blessing. And as strange as this sounds, we’re on her side. The never-ending battle the Pierces engage in is damaging to the soul; just look at the acrimonious yet codependent relationship of Jeff and Lynn to see how it can poison people. And since Anissa is always ready to die for her principles, it could become a wedge between her and Grace in the years to come. Of course, as Anissa points out, Grace’s relationship to her powers is very different and could be part of why she’s more comfortable losing them, but we think Grace’s main reason for wanting to walk away from the fight is the psychological toll it will take on them both. That concern is so valid that it’s kind of amazing it isn’t a more common conflict on superhero shows.
Finally, J.J. was able to restore her powers, but left something behind in the ionosphere. Is it Jen? One imagines China Anne McClain will make one last appearance before the end, so this might be the mechanism to make it happen.
Black Lightning airs Mondays on The CW.