Black Lightning 1x07 "Equinox: The Book of Fate"
In the final moments of the episode, Jefferson has a quiet moment with Anissa where he tells her he wants her to “be better than me.” It’s a common wish, something that almost all parents wish for their children, but it’s not something that’s commonly explored in superhero stories. Jefferson has to be aware of his own faults in order to wish for Anissa to be better than him, and that’s not always something that a lot of the traditional male superheros are great at recognizing, let alone expressing.
After the attack on Tobias Whale leads to Tori’s (Tobias’ sister) death, Jefferson finally realizes that his quest for vengeance has gone too far. In trying to destroy the man responsible for his father’s death, Lynn’s concerns have come true. Letting the pain and anger he still harbored over his father’s death rule him has resulted in Jefferson perpetuating the cycle of violence and death that he has tried to protect Freeland from. Even as we acknowledge just how good Jefferson is, as a father, as a hero and as a principal, it’s still imperative that Anissa be better.
I do think that it’s important (and a relief) that Black Lightning has no interest in floating in that space wherein the audience knows who the heroes are, but the other characters have no idea. Jennifer is the only one in the dark in this family of superheroes, and I don’t think she’ll stay in the dark long once they perform a check of her DNA to see if she’s inherited any metapowers. One of the most refreshing parts of this episode was the way in which Lynn and Jefferson deal with the revelation that Anissa is a metahuman. Jefferson makes the decision to train Anissa, and then discusses it with Lynn as they do every other parenting decision they make for their children, with respect for each other and the child. It’s subverting a pretty common trope of overprotective parents in media and it’s very nice to watch.
Dealing with Anissa’s powers (and what that means for the rest of the family) took up a great deal of real estate in this episode, but there were still some pretty big changes in the last act of the episode. With Tori’s death, Tobias is likely to become even more unhinged, as she was the only one who really seemed capable of reasoning with him, and perhaps, the only person who he really loved. Now that she’s dead Tobias’ game has become personal and with Lady Eve out of the way, he has no direct supervisor.
This is bad news for Black Lightning. Now that Eve is dead and, in a calculated move on Tobias’ part, by what appears to be Black Lightning’s hand, Jefferson is on the outs with both Inspector Henderson and the larger Freeland community. To the outside world, Eve was the town mortician, a bright and promising black female business owner and a respected leader in the community. We also can’t forget about Tobias poisoning Khalil against Black Lightning as well. With all of this bundled together, Black Lightning has probably been deemed persona non-grata by almost everyone who once considered him a hero.
Jefferson is currently dealing with the aftermath of putting on the suit, with Tori’s death, and Anissa is dealing with something similar in the death (and possible murder) of Poe. It’s not the first-time father and daughter’s plots have mirrored one another, but this one is perhaps the most personal for both parties For Anissa, this lesson is probably a hard one. She likely feels guilty, believing that her digging into her grandfather’s past work is what resulted in his death. Jefferson’s likely learned this lesson before, having been in the superhero game for far longer than Anissa, but I think he might have to learn that he can’t protect her from the aches and pains that come with being a superhero.
I do like the contrast between the way Jefferson protects Anissa (by being honest and passing on the knowledge and wisdom that he’s gained from his time) and the way Gambi “protects” Jefferson (secrets and lies). The more we learn about Gambi the less trustworthy he becomes. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s not the season’s true villain. It’s apparent that Gambi and Eve had a professional working relationship, and she definitely respected him, making the decision to kill Joey Toledo on his recommendation. What’s interesting is that Gambi does the dirty work in this instance, killing Toledo himself, which makes him pointing out what killing does to a person to Jefferson come from an obviously more personal place. I don’t trust Gambi and I think that Jefferson is moving around to my point of view as well.
The final moments of the episode have Lala coming back to life, with what appears to be either a ghost or an astral projection of LaWanda. She asks him if he believes in the resurrection and then magically tattoos herself on Lala’s person. How did this happen? And when? And what will the repercussions be for Tobias and Jefferson? This ending also opens up the possibility of Eve and Tori being brought back in a similar manner. As it stands I’m not entirely convinced of Tori’s demise, because Jefferson has pointed out on numerous occasions that Tobias doesn’t look much different than he did 30 years ago when he killed his father. We know Tori isn’t that much younger than Tobias, but she doesn’t appear to have aged that much in the past 30 years either, so perhaps she has an alternative means of survival that we’re as yet unaware of.
This episode left me with lots of questions and I can’t wait to see the answers unfold.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.