Brief Thoughts On ‘Black Lightning’ Season 4, Episode 5
by Erik Amaya
Is Freeland fated to become a ruin?
With the seeming freedom in knowing it is about to end, Black Lightning keeps presenting puzzle pieces leading to such a downer conclusion. Though the fate of his children once again led Jefferson (Cress Williams) to take up his superhero identity, there was very little warmth or victory in the moment. He was able to rescue Jennifer from the ionosphere, but various technobabble elements prevented her from reconstituting quickly. He almost immediately had another fight with Lynn (Christine Adams) because she never told him about Jen’s frequent high altitude visits. That led them to the same old fight. Even his conversation with Gambi (James Remar) could be construed as the ex-ASA agent trying to get his main weapon back on line. Ironically, the person most happy to see Black Lightning again was Lala (William Catlett).
But, curiously enough, the sequestering of the title character allowed Lala’s story to become its own thing and it continues to be fascinating with all the power plays and people playing at being Sun Tzo and Machiavelli. The fact he couldn’t see the Kobra Cartel’s plan, though, reflects that he still thinks too much with his rage. It led to his downfall in Season 1 and it appears it will do so again, leaving Lady Eve to gain control of the 100 if she so wishes. Although, if we take Destiny (Teesha Renee) at her word, the 100 might just be down to 1 at this point with Lala making another escape.
Which left us wondering whether or not Lady Eve knows about Lala’s resurrection trick. She taught Lazarus Prime the secret he used to revive Lala — and later used it to bring Lady Eve back — so one would think she was aware. But Ruby’s decision to call in a meta-assassin suggest she may not known the extent of Lala’s abilities.
Then there’s the possibility that all of this is part of Tobias Whale’s (Marvin “Krondon” James III) chess game. Checkmate for him would seem to be the utter ruin of Freeland alongside the Pierces. Considering how much Jefferson loves the town, it would be on the list of things Tobias would need to take from him.
And that seems to be happening with the Freeland PD declaring war on Lightning. Although, Jen’s new state will offer her some protection from that. The new Meta Task Force, though, will no doubt be after Black Lightning soon.
Okay, let’s talk about Jennifer briefly. As we mentioned last week, China Anne McClain‘s farewell video puts this story in a new light because it leaves us all to wonder if she’s already gone. A superhero show can easily recast people because of the powers, so introducing a new Jennifer is easy and full of story potential. Is this like a Doctor Who regeneration with Jen (now in the form of Laura Kariuki) not just looking different, but being different? That would certain change the stated bond Anissa (Nafessa Williams) mentioned. It might also change Jen’s concerns about being a superhero, her college future, and whole host of other things. But there’s also the tension about McClain’s future in the remaining episodes as she announced her intention to leave the series just as word broke that it was ending this season anyway.
While it offers a great new tension, we hope for some clarity on the matter soon. As it happens, Kariuki is credited as “JJ” through the remainder of the series.
Meanwhile, it is interesting to see Anissa presented as the bad guy in regards to her marriage. Evading Grace’s (Chantal Thuy) phone calls in this situation is the absolute worst thing she could do — not just in terms of disrupting their supposed bond again, but also for her own mental health. Support goes two ways and to deny Grace the opportunity to do so also weakens Anissa. Also, not telling her family they got married just sets things up for even more ruin down the line. Despite her disappearing act in Season 2, Grace is one of the most stabilizing forces in Anissa’s life and her rejection of that suggests she may not want to be stable. Or perhaps, she cannot recognize her own selfishness here. And on a superhero show, that definitely makes her the antagonist.
We still hope the characters can course correct — much like Jefferson did when he was headed toward terminal velocity early in this week’s episode — but maybe ruin is the only way this story can end.
At least Jefferson finally used his connections to the other Earth-Prime heroes for aid. We were starting to think Black Lightning was on its own separate Earth again. Despite the practical reasons for the minuscule crossover potential — COVID-19 and the show shooting far from Vancouver — keeping Freeland part of the main Arrowverse Earth is important.
Black Lightning airs Mondays on The CW.