It's another week on the Black Lightning roller coaster, with an episode that is actually pretty good. Last week's was mediocre. Week before that good. Last episode before that, mediocre. Down and up and down and up.
So what was "up" about this week's episode, "The Book of Reistance: Chapter Three: The Battle of Franklin Terrace"? For one thing, the creative team sidelined Major Grey. While I've regretted Odell being sidelined, I have no such feelings for Grey. This let the creative team bring back Commander Williams (a still uncredited Christopher B. Duncan). Williams punks out this week, and I still don't get his anti-meta attitude given he's a meta. Yes, I understand just because he's a meta doesn't mean he likes other metas. But there's no explanation for his attitude.
Williams has ten times the charisma of Grey, and he can actually do something. Odell is a master manipulator and has lots of resources at his command. But like Tobias, you want someone who can go head-to-head with the heroes occasionally.
Speaking of Tobias, he's still an ASA captive. For some reason Odell/Grey/Williams keep leaving him alone with Lynn. Naturally, Tobias takes advantage of that by undermining the ASA and convincing Lynn to help him escape with the help of some of Maryam's DNA-spliced chameleon powers. We don't see the end result of that because Lynn escapes on her own later. Which leaves Tobias where? He does say he's not a meta, which I suppose makes sense in a way since he cites his year of birth as 1946. But it still seems a bit odd: what else can he be? There's a story there that three seasons in, we still don't know. Hopefully once the creative team gets done with the ASA and Crisis, they can tell us more about Tobias.
That brings us to the rest of the episode. Lynn is still working in the Pit. Anissa has her powers back. Inspector Bill asks Jeff to stop the ASA from keeping Mrs. Shepard out from her home in the Franklin Terrace. The ASA troops, led by Williams, plan to use Franklin Terrace as a barracks for new troops.
Gambi is testing Anissa to make sure she got her powers back, and they hear an outside broadcast about how the ASA has supposedly quarantined Freeland because of a SARS outbreak. Which still doesn't make a lot of sense: wouldn't the media be all over such a story? But maybe the media on Earth-Whatever are more passive than the ones in the Supergirl universe and ours.
Jamilah makes a broadcast to send to the outside world, and Gambi moves into an abandoned radio tower to send it. There he meets Baron (Christopher E'mannuel), who they talk like we've seen before but has apparently never appeared. Baron has technopath powers, and the ASA nicknamed him "Technocrat". "Technocrat" was a minor DC comic book hero and a member of the Outsiders at one time. That Technocrat wore an Iron Man-like suit of armor, while this Technocrat can mentally communicate with, and control, machines.
Speaking of Outsiders connections, the show continues to firm up Brandon (Jahking Guillory) is the show's version of Geoforce. As has often been the case recently, Jennifer does nothing but hang out with Brandon and talk about his backstory. It's interesting Jennifer lies about how she got her powers, claiming she got them in a very iZombie way, when she was secretly dosed with Green Light while at a party. We've got Black Lightning, Looker, Technocrat, Geoforce... when do we get Katana, Metamorpho, and Halo?
Jeff goes to Franklin Terrace and gets a speech from Mrs. Shepard (Andrea Frye). He decides to stay and fight the ASA soldiers as Black Lightning. Anissa puts on her Thunder costume and joins him, and I can't say it's a bad thing. I'd rather see Thunder than Blackbird any day of the weak.
Thunder fights Painkiller but doesn't recognize him until he takes off his broken goggles. She blasts him out a window and he disappears. I'm not clear what the difference, if any, is between Thunder and Blackbird: Painkiller kicked Blackbird's ass a few episodes ago, but this time Thunder puts the hurting on him. But Thunder and Blackbird are the same person with the same powers, right?
Williams orders his men in, and uses his meta power of mimicry to duplicate Black Lightning's electricity. However, since Williams doesn't have Black Lightning's protective suit, the power burns him out. I'm both amused and disappointed by this fight. Williams goes down way too easily, but I do like his calm "I see your point" when Black Lightning explains about Williams' lacks the protective suit, right before William collapses.
I'm also still waiting for Odell to push the self-destruct button on BL's suit or whatever. The suit was a gift from Odell and the ASA, so you'd think Odell would have put a backdoor or two into it.
Gambi and Technocrat get the video out, but then Gambi gets an alert because he's wired into The Pit. He guides Lynn out, but she loses her handbag with her stolen vials of Green Light she's been dosing herself with.
At the end, Bill and BL shake hands while the people cheer them. BL says it's time to go out and take back their city ... after Crisis.
Overall, "Franklin Terrace" had lots of little moments. It was nice seeing BL and Thunder back together: now if they would get Jennifer and Lynn back into the mix, the show could go back to the more familial atmosphere it had the first season or two. But I suppose we'll have to sit through Lynn detoxing from her Green Light addiction. Jennifer... I have no idea where the creative team is going with her. We know Jace is back in Freeland with the Markovians. But the whole Jennifer/Brandon thing has been sidelined so much it's hard to care about it. It isn't significantly tied to anything going on, and with Odell and Grey gone, so is Jennifer's connection to the ASA. Freeland is under siege, and Jennifer is playing "What's Your Power?" with Brandon.
James Remar, Damon Gupton, and Marvin "Krondon" Jones III are all good in their relatively small parts. Cress Williams gets to be mildly sympathetic as Jeff, and imposing as Black Lightning. Having Anissa back as Thunder rather than Blackbird is nice.
The episode ends with the ASA going after Lynn now Jeff has broken their truce by joining with the Resistance. Judging from the previews, it looks like Gambi is on top of the whole parallel worlds thing, and Jeff fights an evil version of Anissa. Whether the "real" Anissa has had enough of her overbearing father, or they're going to bring in an evil alternate version of her from a parallel Earth, remains to be seen. I'm not sure how well trying to bring Black Lightning into the CW Multiverse will work, but they're doing it, so I guess we'll see.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Dec 3, 2019