So for the 12th episode in a row, Black Lightning’s back! But at least this time he brought his superhero mojo with him. And Tobias Whale.

Let’s recap "The Book of Pain". We start with Marvin Jones III showing off his naked torso, and having a long conversation with Proctor, i.e., racist white-guy villain. Played by Gregg Henry doing the kind of villainous second-banana role he typically gets when he’s not in a Marvel movie. And yes, the creative team is still going with this whole “Secret government society is ‘infecting’ black people with a substance” subplot. The upswing of it all is that Proctor wants Tobias to capture Black Lightning so that the ASA can determine why BL is alive when all of the other serum-metahumans have died from the serum. Khalil also comes in on his own two feet--literally—and sports a new pair of dreads.


Then Jeff and Lynn getting sexy in the kitchen of their safehouse. Although it doesn’t look that different from their regular house, the occasional comment about vermin notwithstanding. We find out that Jeff uses electroshock as fore play, and… too much information, thank you very much. Maybe that’s part of what makes Black Lightning different from other superhero TV shows. If only we got to hear how Barry used his superspeed during marital relations with Iris. Or Killer Frost/Caitlin with just about anyone.

In the afterglow, Jeff and Lynn talk about getting back together and decide to hide it from their girls. Which given that Jeff just told Jennifer an episode or two ago that they’d have no more secrets, seems a bit… secretive. “Details about sex life” is one thing. Telling your daughters that you and your live-in ex-wife are back together, is another. Do what I say…”, I guess.


Plus, I thought Lynn and Jeff were back together? Does Lynn even have a place of her own these days? She’s been living the house since episode 1 or 2. It’d be more of a secret if they broke up.

Next we get a bit of nu-Khalil walking down the street. Even though his return to Freeland is apparently a secret, since his mother doesn’t know. Then Jeff goes to see the mother, who pretty much says what we already know: Khalil got shipped off for a secret spinal implant operation, and she doesn’t know that he’s in town.

Lala gets a phone call telling him that “The Devil deals the cards”, and he wanders off in the middle of a drug-dealing meeting. He then goes to the weapons guy, Hildago, who Gambi has been leaning on to give him information on Proctor’s whereabouts.


Khalil texts Jennifer and tries to link back up with her. But when she asks some awkward questions like who is paying millions of dollars for his spinal implant technology, he bad-mouths her and jumps off. He goes back to Tobias, who is eating steak, and tells him that they’re going to terrorize Garfield to lure out Black Lightning, and that Khalil needs to toe the line to “pay” for his new spine.

We also get a minor subplot of Lynn telling Jennifer that she’ll try and suppress her powers. Jennifer tells Jeff that Lynn is going to “fix” her, and Jeff interprets this to mean that Lynn thinks he and their daughters are sick and need to be cured. So they're dragging out an X-Men 3 movie subplot? And they have a fight and Jeff walks off.


Cut to the high school, where Khalil is going berserk with his super-strength spine and a pair of dart-shooting wrist gauntlets. BL and Thunder show up to take him down, but Tobias and Syonide are waiting. It’s guys vs. guys and gals vs. gals. Syonide can’t do much against Thunder, while Tobias is wearing insulated Underoos and is immune to BL’s electricity. They fight hand-to-hand, and Khalil shows up and shoots BL with a dart that suppresses the hero’s powers. Khalil then super-strength punches BL in the chest, causing BL’s heart to stop. The bad guys run off, and Jennifer who has been watching the whole thing shows up and jumpstarts BL’s heart. They take him to Gambi’s surveillance-proof cabin in the woods along with Lynn, who prepares to treat Jeff’s injuries.


And Tobias calls Lala in and reveals that he’s the mysterious voice. And “The Devil deals the cards” is apparently a phrase to trigger Lala’s obedience brainwashing. So that means that Tobias killed Lala, and brought him back. And Lala’s visions of *sigh* dust ghosts are… what?

“Book of Pain” seemed a bit more balanced with the whole superhero/family drama plot-juggling. I liked the final fight, even if the setup and the stakes were a little vague. The heroes show up to fight Khalil, but he really doesn’t do anything until the final bit and then it’s more an ambush than a fight. We still don’t know what Tobias and Syonide can do, superpower-wise, so it’s hard to tell if the fights are supposed to be balanced or what.


The school also apparently suffers from a lack of surveillance cameras. Surveillance cameras is always one of those convenient/ignored things in CW shows. If the heroes need to find someone, it’s off to run facial recognition software on the city’s CCTVs. Like in this week’s Flash. But if you need to capture a corrupt DA on video confessing that he’s in a drug lord's back pocket (like with last week’s Arrow), forget it. Plot necessity trumps demonstrated character proficiency and real-world concerns every time.

I’m also a bit confused on the whole Jeff/Lynn thing. I thought they were back together, given that for the last 10 or so episodes they’ve been… back together.

I’m still not big on the whole “government agency infects a community’s minority populace with a drug to make them docile” plot. It reads like the creative team read a Wikipedia article on AIDS & the CIA, and decided to port it into the show with a few adjustments. It makes the show a bit… busier than it needs to be. It takes the show from “BL Fights The 100” to “BL Takes on Secret Government Agency”. Turning the show into less of a street-level superhero show, and taking it into X-Files territory.


Good things besides the super fight? I’m still liking Tobias Jones, so his return is welcome. Damon Gupton as Inspector Bill is nowhere to be seen. I’m beginning to wonder if Tobias and Bill are the same person: you never see them together, do you? I am confused as to whether Tobias is one of the serum kids. The ASA doesn’t se4em interested in studying him. Even if Tobias’ albinism and immortality come from somewhere else, wouldn’t Proctor want to have his lab boys dissect him?

RIP Dwayne. Who? He was the guy who pulled Tobias to safety a few episodes ago. But didn’t rescue Tori, Tobias’ sister. So Tobias does that tropilicious villain thing where he thanks Dwayne for saving his life, and then chokes him (and lets Syonide shoot him dead) for failing to save Tori. It doesn’t seem like a way to build loyalty among your minions. Maybe if he was under specific orders to rescue Tori no matter what, but there’s no indication of that. Like Dwayne said, if he hadn’t saved Tobias, then Tobias and Tori would both have been captured or killed.


The show continues to demonstrate the difference between Jennifer and Anissa, even though it all seems to be leading to Jennifer donning a costume and become Lightning. Khalil’s heel-turn is all over the place. He seems to have turned against Jeff and BL, but that’s more a personal thing than part of the “turn Freeland against BL” scheme that Tobias was starting up a few episodes ago. Given that it hasn’t really played much into the season (the citizens turning against BL, not the police), they probably shouldn’t have bothered. Again, it just made the season busier than it had to be.

Overall, “Book of Pain” was a dece4nt episode of the series. A little less drama, a little more superheroing. It fits comfortably into the CW line of superhero shows, and maybe that’s my issue with it. It’s not exactly groundbreaking, is it? It’s just another superhero show. It started off strong and unique, but these days, not so much.

But that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?


So next week is the season finale. Black Lightning has been renewed for a second season, so I imagine we’ll get a cliffhanger or two, a dramatic reveal of Jennifer as Lightning, maybe a death or two (Kaya or Proctor, most likely), maybe Khalil will unleash athlete's foot on Black Lightning in return for that weird-ass athlete's foot/STD speech earlier this season, and that’s it until next year.
Comments (5)
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Apr 15, 2018
The problem with this show having only two major villains for the whole season makes it feel extremely repetitive, especially since the subplots involving Gambi and the Pierce family are going nowhere. It needs more self-contained episodes with different tones so we don't get bored. Same azdvice I gave for all the MCU netflix shows. they all feel dragged because of the season-long arcs.
Apr 15, 2018
I think some episodes of BL could have been dropped, like the "Jeff goes to jail" one last week. Which went no where, accomplished nothing within the show, and only loosely tied into the overall plot.

I think the problem is more that the seasons are too long (including the Netflix Marvel stuff, and the DCTV shows), than that the variety isn't there. Plus like I said, they've been dropping Tobias out. How interesting would season 1 of Jessica Jones be if Kilgrave meandered in and out, disappearing for episodes at a time? They had a charismatic villain/actor and they ran with it.
Apr 15, 2018
Yeah, I'm baffled. I thought they were back together ages ago.

I agree about the stupidity of the cameras, especially on Supergirl - she doesn't change anything about her appearance and nobdy with visual recognition software uncovers her identity.

But even more so, I didn't get it:

1) Why didn't the police walk into the school? They know who the perp is and he is putting kids at risk.

He is also not invulnerable. It's like that Southpark episode with the Coon, where the cops don't want to attack Professor Chaos - who is just an 8 year old boy in a non super powered costume.
Except Southpark was meant to be a joke.

2) If the cops had the place surrounded, how come they aren't wondering how did Black Lightning and Thunder got into the school? Shouldn't this be a huge red flag that Jefferson is Black Lightning or that he is some teacher \ student \ janitor \ whatever?

And what was ms evil vice principal doing at this time?

Apr 15, 2018
Kara was evacuating the students during the whole thing, wasn't she? She got a brief reaction shot or two.

Besides, she works for the ASA, and Tobias works for the ASA (sorta). So I don't think they're connected with each other directly.
Apr 15, 2018
We find out that Jeff uses electroshock as fore play, and… too much information, thank you very much. Maybe that’s part of what makes Black Lightning different from other superhero TV shows. If only we got to hear how Barry used his superspeed during marital relations with Iris.

Actually jokes about this stuff was everywhere back in the days. Charmed used to have a running gag where they mentioned that Piper used to freeze (in time) Leo - sometimes they mentioned she only froze "parts" of him...

Alphas also made it actually a plot point of the women in Cam's life - both Danny and Nina - used their powers on him during intercourse.

No Heroics (sadly RIP) - made quite a few references to how super powered sex works.

And technically if you mention it, Barry did mention that he needs to put a lot of effort to "slow down" with Iris.
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