REVIEW: Black Lightning S2E05- “The Book of Blood: Chapter 1: Requiem”

Wait…Did they just do what I think they did? Black Lightning episode 5 “The Book of Blood: Chapter One: Requiem” appears to have, rather abruptly, killed off Gambi (James Remar) in a government hit. According to the laws of TV: “no body, no death”, and we never do see Gambi’s body. In fact, I spent much of this episode waiting for Gambi to stumble out of the shadows, bruised, singed, but very much alive. Like Jefferson (Cress Williams) says, “This is Gambi we’re talking about here…The man has contingency plans to his contingency plans”. However, the episode certainly treated it as if everyone’s favorite crime-fighting tailor is indeed gone. Grief is the overlying theme of this episode, and all of our characters are handling it in different ways.

Jefferson Pierce seemingly goes through all 5 stages of grief over the course of the episode. Williams give a powerfully moving performance this episode as Jefferson grapples with the possibility that the man who was like a second father to him, may not be coming back. When Henderson (Damon Gumpton) delivers the news to Jefferson and Anissa (Nafessa Williams), Jefferson is visibly shaken but in denial that Gambi’s dead until he sees it with his own eyes. However, as the hours go by without word from Gambi, Jefferson’s mental state starts to strain as he moves from Denial to Anger. He reacts angrily to Lynn’s (Christine Adams) gesture of giving him Gambi’s pocket watch, and later drunkenly takes out his feelings on an unruly bar patron who was hitting on a waitress. Anger turns to Bargaining, as Jefferson laments to Henderson all sacrifices he’s given to protect the city verses what it’s taken from him. Seeing the vigil in front of Gambi’s tailor shop, bargaining gives way to Depression as Jefferson fully allows himself to feel the weight of Gambi’s loss.

Anissa finds comfort in bed with Grace.

Contrary to her father, Anissa is quicker to reach Acceptance that Gambi is gone. She’s the supportive pillar for her father and sister, and immediately moves into action planning mode. She finds other outlets for her grief, like searching for comfort in the embrace of her relationship with Grace (Chantal Thuy). To be honest, this was not the way I thought ThunderGrace would be re-introduced into the story after both women promised to “try” the last time we saw them together. It’s not how Grace pictured it either. Anissa confesses to Grace that Gambi’s sudden death made her value the present, but Grace sees their hook up for what it is: a distraction. She cautions Anissa that she’s not a handbag, to be used for sex when Anissa feels vulnerable. Grace asks Anissa to stay away if she doesn’t want commitment, and I applaud Grace for setting up clear boundaries. However, as Grace hurriedly leaves the bedroom and her tattoos start move on their own, it seems more likely that Grace might have another reason to keep her distance…

Like Anissa, Jennifer (China A McClain) similarly uses Khalil (Jordan Calloway) as a distraction in her moment of vulnerability. When a message from Khalil interrupts Jennifer ranting at her calculus test, she suddenly flashes back to when she reached out to Khalil to meet her at Garfield High. Jennifer confides in Khalil how much she misses, friends, school, and her freedom, and he apologizes for the part he played in causing her grief. Khalil implies he still has feelings for Jennifer, which causes her to pull back. However, a shared moment on the rooftop, when Khalil comes to give his condolences on Gambi’s passing, further shows that we may not be done with the Khalil x Jennifer ship just yet.

So there may be hope for Khalil and Jennifer after all, but only if he can manage not to be killed by an unloving and unforgiving Tobias Whale (Marvin “KRONDON” Jones III). Tobias is still taking his grief over Syonide’s death out on Khalil. When he’s not referencing biblical parables as thinly veiled threats to keep Khalil in line, Tobias is extorting councilman Kwame Parker (Eric C Lynch) into his service. Turns out that briefcase Tobias stole from Martin Proctor last season contains tons of dirty little secrets, including the fact that councilman Parker received campaign contributions from the man responsible for kidnapping and experimenting on Freeland children. Parker’s first assignment on Tobias’ payroll was to hold a press conference announcing the move of the clinic to a safer, “crime free” location. While, at first glance, this may seem like a generous move, I’m more worried as to what will become of the property the clinic is in now. Whatever Tobias has planned for that area cannot be good.

Lastly, Lynn experiences her own grief when Dr. Jace (Jennifer Riker) tricks her into using an experimental vaccine that results in the death of the pod kids. Lynn has been working herself to the bone to find a cure for all the pod kids. Her care and protectiveness is contrasted greatly with Jace’s callous disregard for human life. The smirk that comes over her face at Lynn’s distress when pod kids start dying is disturbing. Thankfully, Lynn lays the smackdown on Dr Jace and has her escorted from the premises. However, can we be certain this is the last we’ll see of her? I’m not so sure.

Miscellaneous:

Anissa started volunteering at the community clinic, which has been understaffed since the bomb threat. Before dying in her arms, Deacon (Rob Morean), one half of the young, pregnant couple Anissa treated earlier that week returns to the clinic to ask her to save his girlfriend, Anaya (Birgundi Baker). While Anissa is telling Henderson what she knows of the young couple, Deacon starts…leaking…. a silvery substance that appears to be alive. Anissa traces back Deacon’s movements and discovers he’s from South Freeland. However, her trip to find Anaya is cut short by an unsettling traffic stop by an unfriendly police officer who appeared to have something moving under his skin. What is this new silver goo? Is it like the Green Light experiments? Or is this something new?