REVIEW: Black Lightning S1E6- Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder

Black Lightning returns from a short hiatus with its best and most emotional episode yet. Picking up from the last episode, beaten and powerless, Jefferson (Cress Williams) barely escapes being caught by the police thanks to his mentor, Gambi (James Remar), who calls Lynn (Christine Adams), panicked, exclaiming that Jefferson is in the “hurt locker.” “Hurt Locker” is military slang for “a period of immense, inescapable physical or emotional pain,” and all four members of the Pierce family found themselves in their own personal “hurt locker” throughout the episode, though each one responded differently to it. “Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder,” title of which contains a biblical reference to the holy trinity, makes progress on the storylines of each of Black Lightning’s holy trinity: Jefferson , Anissa (Nafessa Williams), and Jennifer (China A McClain) – with Anissa aka Thunder finally being brought into the main plot on the episode of her namesake. Hopefully, her sister will not be too far behind. Meanwhile, Gambi’s credibility takes another hit, as Jefferson grows more suspicious that he is protecting Tobias (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III), and Lynn unknowingly stumbles upon a secret that may connect Black Lightning’s origins with the drug Green Light, putting her in Lady Eve’s (Jill Scott) crosshairs.

Jefferson has a crisis of conscience.

Gambi was referring to his physical state, but the “hurt locker” Jefferson faces is actually from finding out Tobias is back in Freeland. We get a flashback of a young Jefferson hiding and watching an adult Tobias kill his father, and I must say, in retrospect, Gambi randomly referencing giving Tobias and Tori a serum so they don’t age in the previous episode now makes sense (how old is Tobias anyway?!). Jefferson doesn’t cope well, and his pain causes him to make questionable decisions, including coercing Tobias’ doctor to help smoke him out. Jefferson continues to blur the lines between Hero and Killer in an effort to take down the man that murdered his father, but what’s most interesting for me is that it’s not Gambi’s appeals to “Black Lightning” but rather Lynn’s appeals to “Jefferson” to think of their girls that winds up saving Jefferson from himself. Lynn really gets pushed to the forefront of this episode, and she experiences her own “hurt locker” after once again being called to put Jefferson back together after he almost kills himself being Black Lightning. Lynn and Jefferson have been going back and forth all season, with Lynn usually relenting to Jefferson’s charm, but I was glad the writers gave her the space to be angry with Jefferson and not hold back. She reacts with resistance the entire episode, refusing to let Gambi pull her back in because he can’t get through to Jefferson. Often, as the audience, you are hard wired to be overly sympathetic to the hero and his allies, but Lynn’s fears for Jefferson and mistrust of Gambi were both justified. Some still may have thought her words were a little too harsh, but Jefferson needed to hear. And later, Anissa’s suggestion that maybe Lynn felt like the mistress to Jefferson’s superhero agenda, is what Lynn needed to hear to be able to understand Jefferson and reconcile both the superhero and the man.

Black Lightning vs Thunder!

For sisters Jennifer and Anissa, their “hurt locker” experiences, albeit different, resulted in both girls making major decisions that marked a pivot in their arcs. For Anissa, in a storyline ripped straight from the headlines, it’s anger and sadness over the death of a classmate at the hands of White Nationalists during a protest of a confederate statue that finally persuades her to open up to her mother about her powers. I was so afraid that when Gambi called about Jefferson, Lynn would have to leave work and Anissa’s window of opportunity to confess would close. However, what we got was even better: Lady Eve’s guards capturing Lynn and both Anissa and Jefferson coming to save her, leading to an epic Black Lightning vs Thunder fight as father and daughter unknowingly face off with each other! Comparatively, Jennifer’s “hurt locker” was a little more muted, but touched on a cultural nerve in the Black community. I’ve never been called “Black Becky” by my classmates growing up, but I certainly have been called an “oreo,” which is “black on the outside, white on the inside.” I very much relate to Jennifer’s frustration at not being considered “Black enough” based on some arbitrary judgement on my speech pattern, intelligence, hobbies, etc. So Jefferson’s speech about how the “crabs in a barrel” mentality is detrimental but also that “there’s no one expert on what is or is not black” really spoke to me. However, for Jennifer, it wasn’t so much the comments as it was the “Khalil” (Jordan Calloway) of it all. I continue to love the sisterly bond between Anissa and Jennifer, so I enjoyed Jennifer opening up about how hard it was to feel weighed down by the reality of Kalil’s situation. And, although he’s not a Pierce family member, I would be remiss not to touch on Khalil’s “hurt locker” and the poor way he chose to deal with it. I understand the hurt and anger Khalil feels at the loss of his legs, but, as Jefferson says, “pain could be revealing who he really is.” And, as we see Khalil being picked up in a car by Tobias and Syonide, who he is may not be so pretty after all….

Finally, as shady as Gambi has proven himself to be, I really do believe he wants to protect Jefferson and the Pierce family. However, the harder he scrambles to keep Jefferson in the dark, the tighter the weight of his own decisions seem to close in around him, and it’s currently unclear if he’ll be able to survive the fallout when the truth is revealed.

Miscellaneous thoughts: Is anybody else freaking out over the fact that Lady Eve referred to Thunder as a “metahuman”???

As always, feel free to leave comments below!