REVIEW: Black Lightning S2E04 – The Book of Consequences Chapter 4: Translucent Freak

This week on Black Lightning,”Translucent Freak” (all puns intended), Tobias Whale’s (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) true intentions behind tying up loose ends in previous episodes become more transparent. With no evidence tying him to the murder of Alvin Pierce, Tobias is free to rehabilitate his public image and take over Freeland. This certainly doesn’t sit well with Jefferson (Cress Williams). However, Tobias being exonerated for his father’s murder is not the only upheaval in Jefferson’s life. Massa Principal Lowry (P.J. Bryne) lays down the law at Garfield, but his “zero tolerance policy” appears to protect himself (and the school board) more than the students. Meanwhile, Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jefferson’s disagreement comes to a head, Jennifer (China A McClain) hits rock bottom, and Lynn’s (Christine Adams) partnership with Dr. Jace (Jennifer Riker) may have inadvertently put her family in danger.

Snitches get suspensions…

The two themes of “rules” and “control” ran parallel to each other throughout this episode. At Garfield High, Jefferson is having a difficult time adjusting to his new, limited, role as a teacher. He successfully stops a fight from escalating in the hallways; however he’s not able to save the two young men from expulsion and suspension under Principal Lowry’s “zero tolerance” rule. And no matter how hard Jefferson huffs and puffs, his lack of authority limits his ability to control what happens to the students and school he loves so much. Similarly, Jefferson feels he’s losing control on shaping what kind of hero Anissa decides she wants to be. Gambi (James Remar) reads Jefferson in on Anissa’s Robin Hood escapades. Jefferson is understandably upset at being out of the loop, but I respect that Gambi was able to earn trust with Anissa while also not losing trust and respect of Jefferson. Gambi was in the tough position of being in the middle, but he offers an important balance between two diametrically opposing ideologies.

Parents just don’t understand.

Anissa and Jefferson’s fight comes to an ugly head when he confronts his daughter about her apparent lack of super hero ethics. He chastises that “unlike criminals we have a set of rules,” a moral code, that superheroes should follow. However, Anissa pushes back on the concept that there’s only one way to be a hero. While I personally don’t like Anissa’s brand of fighting crime with crime, she does have a larger point. By just being Black Lightning and Thunder, Jefferson and Anissa are already essentially breaking the law as vigilantes. From that perspective, it seems as though being a hero is OK only as long as Jefferson says it’s OK. Jefferson had years to develop his identity and purpose as Black Lightning. Anissa should be allowed to figure out by herself what being a superhero means to her, even if that involves her making mistakes along the way. Jefferson’s insistence on trying to control her journey is what pushes her away.

However, I’m happy they were able to put their differences aside long enough to protect the clinic from a bomb threat. I was worried Anissa’s adventures in crime would come back to bite her, and they did this episode. The crime organization Anissa robbed is now looking to get payback. Not only that, they’ve partnered with Tobias, who wants to put an end to Black Lightning by any means necessary. So, although Black Lightning and Thunder won the battle this time and saved the clinic, it’s clear the war between them and this new threat is just getting started.

Jenn doesn’t want to be left behind.

Even though Anissa and Jefferson are not seeing eye to eye right now, it’s comforting to see that Anissa and Jennifer still have each others’ backs. Although Anissa moving out means not being around as much anymore, she promises Jennifer that she will always be on her side. It’s a comforting thought to Jennifer, who feels more alone than ever. The bond between the two sisters has always felt like the heart of the show. It was heartbreaking to see how bereft Jennifer felt at the prospect of not having her sister to rely on. Jennifer has lost a lot of her old life in a short period of time. She’s lost friendships, her freedom, and the comfort of her sister sleeping next door. However, Lynn and Jefferson’s decision to take away Garfield High, opting to home school instead, is the final “loss” that proves to be more than Jennifer can bear.

Two lonely souls reconnect.

Her parents’ worry is understandable. Lynn’s colleague Dr. Jace has no issues with letting the pod kids die for the sake of scientific discovery. Furthermore, she found Lynn’s research on Jefferson and the girls. If people like Dr. Jace or Agent Odell (Bill Duke) were ever to find out the Pierce family’s secret, everyone Lynn loved would be in immediate danger. Although Jennifer has been trying her best to get her powers under control, fried laptops don’t exactly inspire confidence. Jennifer doesn’t seem to be able to understand her mental block, but if her sessions with Perenna (Erika Alexander) are anything to go by, the issue may be around her unresolved and complicated feelings for Khalil (Jordan Calloway). Honestly, Khalil should change his name to “Persistent” or maybe “Pain-In-The-Ass” for how much he keeps pestering Jennifer to acknowledge him. Jennifer promises Anissa she’ll stay away, but, with nothing left to lose, she finally relents this episode and meets him at school after hours. Time will tell if letting Khalil back in was a good or bad decision. However, just as Anissa needs to find her own meaning of what it means to be a hero, resolving her feelings with Khalil is something Jennifer needs to do on her own as well.

Miscellaneous

– Gambi keeping Kara Fowdy (Skye P Marshall), dying slowly of sepsis, tied up and bleeding in his basement is a little creepy, not gonna lie. He finally was able to learn Tobias has the briefcase. However, I’m not sure how much knowing that even helps.