Black Lightning: Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder
February 27, 2018 8:08 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Jefferson is on the hunt for his father's killer, while Anissa uses her new powers to rectify a wrong after a protest fails. Jennifer grapples with some difficult choices. Gambi begs for help from Lynn.
posted by oh yeah! (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Another ‘all over the place’ episode. All the to-kill-or-not-to-kill drama over Tobias felt like bad Arrowverse influence. And the superhero showdown seemed like idiot ball contrivance. I can maybe buy that Jefferson thought the mystery costumed woman was Lynn’s attacker/kidnapper, but why wouldn’t Anissa use her words at any point? She should recognize Black Lightning as her vigilante hero even if she couldn’t see who he was past the mask, there was no reason for the fight to start in the first place let alone go on as long as it did. (And how did Anissa know she’d be bulletproof? Super-strength is one thing, but invulnerability is another. And apparently extends to her latex outfit.)

Anyway, at least now we can move on to the shared superpowers arc.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:50 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

AV Club - A familiar, formulaic story bogs down Black Lightning
If we posit that a significant part of Black Lightning’s strength is its ability to shift the superhero narrative in unique, interesting ways, then it’s safe to say that the more familiar narrative arcs will likely fall flat. That’s the case this week, as Black Lightning asks one of the most familiar questions in superhero fiction: will our hero cross the line and murder an enemy in cold blood?
How could this episode have gone differently? The story is clearly headed towards a showdown between BL and Tobias, but he was called down off the ledge, not directly by his ex-wife's words, but by an apparent threat to her person. Maybe when Dr. Henry* or his kids end up dead, BL will be pushed to act (rashly) against Tobias?

*Tobias' unwilling doctor, who is not (yet) listed in the episode cast on IMDb, but was named in this transcript that I think comes from official on-screen dialog boxes.

On refresh, I agree with you, oh yeah! - the "will he, won't he?" gets to be old, but this is only the 6th episode of the season, and the first where BL is certain Tobais is back in town for good. If we're having the same drama drawn out into next season, or even to the end of this season, I'll side with you wholeheartedly.

Anyway, I think there's a lot more to this episode than Black Lightning not killing Tobias (or Tobias's goon squad noticing a glowing electrical surge on the roof above them). Maybe this was a let-down because this was a build-up episode? Anissa and Jefferson discover that they have more in common than they realized, the viewers see more of Gambi's (connection to) corruption, while Khalil moves to the dark side, and Inspector Bill Henderson recognizes that there's rot in the police station.

Maybe it comes from having a lengthy history of stories from the comic books to draw upon, but being uncertain how the show will fare, given that Fox initially passed on it before CW picked it up for 13 episodes. That's not a lot of time to build a universe that already exists for some people.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:57 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I know it is a law that the first time two superheroes meet in costume, they must fight, but really? Seconding that Anissa should have recognized Black Lightning, and he even gave her a chance to back off and she still didn't say "I'm untying her," or anything sane, but just dropped into fighting stance. For that matter, Mom just watched without trying to draw Jefferson's attention nonverbally.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:43 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Holy shit. Can we talk about how they just put Charlottesville into the show? I thought that was frighteningly effective at putting the show in a current context. Can we have Anissa disintegrating Trump next season?

Yeah it was a bit contrived that her and her dad fought, yadda yadda, it was still awesome, and they needed to do it to establish relative balance between their strengths. Anyway, family dinners are about to get more interesting. They should really tell Jennifer and let her know she might be encountering some things, and spare her the shame of it. Like a power-period talk.

I am definitely also curious what happened with Tobias and the dermatologist when BL didn't show up. Awkward.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 3:47 PM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

For that matter, Mom just watched without trying to draw Jefferson's attention nonverbally.

There's a fairly explicit shot of her moving her eyes and head at Jefferson after their first exchange.

It was a little contrived but I didn't find it too awful. My grump with it is more that what should have been a subsequent emotional sequence seemed pretty muted. Jefferson seemed a little restrained for finding out he just beat up his daughter, then the odd setting of them in Gambi's van, then he's largely non-verbal when she comes to?

Holy shit. Can we talk about how they just put Charlottesville into the show? I thought that was frighteningly effective at putting the show in a current context.

I was quite impressed by the bit in the police station about the danger of using a gun-shaped object while black. The show has done a nice job of repeatedly talking about the particular dangers of going about life in a black body, not doing it up over-the-top the way tv often does, but also not letting it drop.
posted by phearlez at 7:52 PM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

the social issues the show tackles so far is outweighing the superhero-ness of it for me. i like it for that.
posted by numaner at 8:04 PM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I think it’s how well they’re doing with scenes like the police hallway conversation, and not ignoring Charlottesville that made me feel the need to grump about the less authentic scenes. With the memory of how Supergirl got Berlanti-fied in the move from CBS to CW, I worry about Black Lightning going through something similar, wondering whether the any of the dumb/generic superhero tropes are shoehorned in at the executive & network level versus being the showrunner’s choice.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:38 AM on March 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm happy Anissa's powers are getting outed now. That is fun for me.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:02 PM on March 3, 2018

I feel like the conspiracy is really stretching credibility of plot. Yes, I know that we're talking about a story with meta-humans, but the internal logic of the plot needs to hold up as well. Eve knows about Gambi and knows something something about the Pierce family which is "off limits." Gambi knows about Eve and knows something something about Tobias who similarly is "off limits." Except, not really because Eve says she wants Black Lighting dead and doesn't care that much about collateral damage. Why hasn't she connected the dots? Then there's scary girl, who had a clean shot a Jefferson but hit the Reverend instead. Does she know something?

There better be some sort of a very big and very compelling sword of damocles going on to justify these games, otherwise it's looking like a rather arbitrary complication to drag things out.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:46 PM on March 5, 2018

And how did Eve know what Lynn was working on?
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:40 PM on March 5, 2018

We got a shot of her coworker talking on the phone and watching her shiftily while she compared Jefferson's MRI to the one he'd showed her. Which didn't make a lot of sense; if "Lynn has access to these scans" is something he was gonna tip someone off to he didn't need to do it in that moment. That would SEEM to indicate he was calling because he noticed she had some other scan that he didn't give her, so perhaps we're supposed to gather that it's that additional knowledge that makes her a threat? But clearly if scans of greenlight users were being presented to her then it's part of her job to look at such stuff?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I like this show but it's unnecessarily sloppy with some of this stuff.
posted by phearlez at 8:01 AM on March 6, 2018

As far as the greater conspiracy stuff, here's what I have piled up in my head:

Gambi and Eve both worked for this shadow organization. I have a sense they left at the same time but that doesn't seem firmly indicated. Whether they did so because they had no choice - forced out or the operation was shut down - seems unclear.

Being a part of that operation leaves a former operative well positioned to go out and make something of themselves in a sleazy way if they so desire. Whether that's simply because they know where bodies are buried/have been trained with certain nasty skills or something more is unclear. Eve took that path. She seems to think Gambi washed his hands entirely.

First rule of shadow organizations: just because people tell/show some people that they left doesn't mean they did. Probably nobody we've seen knows when/if Gambi actually left or if he even did.

Gambi is aware that Tobias has been juiced up with some sort of super serum.

Based on what Tobias says to Gambi about Gambi continuing to be involved with said shadow organization implies it still exists in some form; whether it's radically different or under very New Management since Gambi and Eve parted ways with them is unknown.

We have zero idea whether Jefferson knows anything about shadow organization and/or Gambi's past association. He obviously knows Gambi has resources and skills beyond his cover op.

Gambi's source of support is obviously more than a tailor's income would provide. Is it leftover shadow operation materials? Is the lair leftover shadow org stuff?

We've seen Tobias use greater than normal human strength in the present. In the flashback to his murder of Jefferson's father he doesn't exhibit any such skill and has many henchmen in tow. His "juicing" could have happened as late as right before the showdown with Black Lightning where each thinks they killed the other.

The kid experimentation was happening before Jefferson's father was killed, and presumably went on for some period after. Was it spinoff tech/shenanigans from the shadow org or actual actions taken by the shadow org? Would that, therefor, be likely to be the dirty laundry Eve says will come out about Gambi?

I never read any Black Lightning comics so I'm speculating on nothing past what's been in the show, but my guess here would be that the secrets that's going to come out is that the shadow org either conspired with or looked the other way on Tobias while they had some hand in the kid experiments. Gambi's association with them will therefore be the dirty laundry that will eventually come to light and be a wedge between Gambi and Jefferson. Jefferson will view that, somewhat reasonably if that's how it's set up, as meaning that Gambi has some culpability for Jefferson's dad getting killed.
posted by phearlez at 8:21 AM on March 6, 2018

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