Black Lightning just had its third season finale. So now’s the opportune time to write that up. I’ll throw in bonus The F-Lash since a certain psychic gorilla reappeared. Here is a tale of two lightning lads with SPOILERS attendant! Also this is technically a fifth anniversary blog! Celebrate by looking at my Elektra custom!
Now that his series is officially part of the Beeboverse, Black Lightning humblebrags about helping during Crisis On Infinite Earths. That does make it bizarre that he hasn’t called in any of the Justice League (not official name yet) for aid. I know it’s his series & it films in a different city than the rest, but they haven’t even handwaved an excuse for it. Although he’s not a local, the Flash would be infinitely more helpful then a crimester that instantly acquires nagging tattoos of anyone he kills. It would’ve been much more elegant for the crossover to have happened at the end of this season rather than 3/4 through.
The ASA put a forcefield around Freehand under the guise of pandemic quarantine (Stop being so ominously prescient, speculative fiction made in advance of current events!) to keep its racist metahuman experiment under wraps. Now that Markovia is ramping up plans to “liberate” its metahumans, the ASA is prepared to nuke the entire city rather than let its metahumans be poached. I understand that the ASA doesn’t value civilians or want the public to know the truth, but it seems odd that a government agency destroy an entire American city rather than shift blame to a foreign invasion. This is the sort of incident that should kick off an official war!
Wayne Brady kills all the Nazis! He’s unexpectedly not miscast as a villain. Gravedigger makes some salient points. You can tell he’s a baddie because he tosses away a perfectly good apple after a couple bites. The show has some fun with the reveal that Gravedigger is Jeff’s grunkle. I expected Gambi to disable the ASA forcefield, which became less relevant as the main cast kept leaving through its weak-point, once Lady Eve gave him the MacGuffin briefcase. Gravedigger had to do it by telekinetically smashing supercharged Lightning into it. (I wish Jen had a more distinct codename from her dad.)
Grace Choi initially had nothing in common with her comics counterpart aside from a name, tattoo sleeves, & dating Thunder. After getting trounced by average folk, she suddenly became a superior martial artists. It seems like she’d had powers well before the Green Light metas began cropping up but it’s unclear if she was a would-be pod kid that evaded the ASA for decades. Her mysteriously confusing backstory involves being victimized by a child prostitution ring. She’s a shapeshifter whose original form might’ve been an old man, so she’s transgender adjacent without directly representing real life trans people like Nia Nall. She’d erratically shift into a little girl & a leopard too. She stabilized after receiving the meta-plague vaccine. Now she’s suddenly superstrong like her Amazon inspiration from shapeshifting so much? Of course Chantal Thuy still doesn’t look anywhere as buff as her character is drawn. (Weirdly the series has cast swole actresses for New Wave & Major Sara Grey, two characters that don’t have superstrengh. You wouldn’t know it from how they’re attired, but there’s no disguising how yoked Katy O’Brian’ s neck is.) This feels less like a character arc than a winding path of not knowing what to do with her.
After Gambi makes Anissa & Grace matching white tuxedos but before he can officiate their wedding, Gravedigger invades Freeland. He uses The Voice to make Grace try to slay her fiance. Now both of the Pierce sisters’ lovers have been mindcontrolled into attempting to murder them! Thunder inadvertently puts Grace into a coma to stop her. It’d be more heartbreaking if Grace wasn’t written so erratically that it was difficult to grok her relationship with Anissa. Is she going to awaken with a personality more akin to the comics?
The meta vs. meta fights are often underwhelming, but they pulled out all the stops for the finale. Like The Thinker, Gravedigger gave himself lots of fun bonus powers! The regular combat remains superlative too, with Khalil & Paynekiller having a samurai showdown inside his head. He even improves on Roy Harper’s parkour flips by adding gunfire.
Inspector Henderson valiantly takes an energy blast to the chest to save Jeff. (Reading that Damon Gupton, who is also a symphony conductor, won’t return in season four spoiled he’d be the finale’s major casualty.) Jamillah Olsen is gunned down mid-report so the writers don’t have to worry whether she’s a James Olsen doppelganger & what rules they’re using for that on this show. (Supergirl’s & Batwoman’s writers didn’t coordinate on this crucial Post-Crisis point.) Lady Eve got shot, but will probably survive since they just went to the trouble of resurrecting her. Usurping Geo-Force’s revenge, Commander Carson executes Dr. Helga Jace to keep her silent. If Lynn didn’t snap his neck against the wall, Carson got exploded with The Pit. Gravedigger inexplicably survived the same explosion & is now at large stateside. (He’s got a holographic image inducer, which shows more respect for how faces work than Batwoman.) Strangely nobody else died in the supposedly catastrophic explosion either? If Gambi didn’t use silver bullets, Major Grey may return as a werewolf as the Eddie Munster adlib foreshadowed! Finding midpoint between justice & murder, Khalil shoots Odell in the spleen!
Why did the Pierces testify against the ASA in Gotham City instead of Washington, DC? His co-creators cameo as judges. The commission literally recommends metahumans of Freeland attend a boarding school for gifted youngsters. Will Jefferson Pierce become headmaster of Outsiders Academy? The ASA gets disbanded so its corruption doesn’t conflict with ARGUS & the DEO.
Although a bit overstuffed, I enjoyed season three overall more than the second. This finale was more satisfying than the conclusion to Gotham’s “No Man’s Land” arc, mostly because Gravedigger is more compelling than Gringo Bane. Black Lightning is a series that does a lot of different genres well. It just doesn’t do them all simultaneously. The high school drama aspect got the shortest shrift this season. I’m concerned it’ll lose some of the verisimilitude that differentiated it from other superhero fare. On the other paw, I want as much outlandish comic bookery onscreen as possible. It needs some other superheroes to swing by even when there isn’t a crossover & vice versa to make it feel integrated. (This could be very tricky if it continues to film in Atlanta while the rest are in Vancouver.) Screw The Shadow Board, will Lady Eve finally lead Kobra next season? It’s high time Jill Scott had a army of serpent cultists in vibrant scale-mail regalia at her disposal!
If hoomins offered him tummy rubs not bananas, Grodd wouldn’t have tried to conquer them. When Grodd & Barry merged in the astral plane prison in “Grodd Friended Me,” I hoped Grodd would get the full Flash costume as a JLApe nod. Hopefully gorillafication of superheroes will be the subject of the next Beeboverse crossover! Or at least The Beebo/Grodd Comedy Hour! (Grodd guest-starred on Legacies?) A repentant Grodd gets paroled to Gorilla City, which is a sausage fest so far. Who should voice Primat the manic pixie dream gorilla whose dresses for Wrestlemania? (She seems a bit like Mona Wu from Leg-Ends of Tomorrow.)
There’s Speed Force malarkey about it being poisoned to death by residual Spectre energy. DAMN IT, OLLIE! Reverse-Flash is now a ghost possessing Nash despite neither being a Wells nor born yet. I don’t know if it’ll be more or less sensible in the weeks to come. How does Turtle II super-age things by slowing down time? Are we going to find out what Flash did to Pied Piper in Post-Crisis continuity?
The universe mourns the passing of Emperor Ming The Merciless of Mongo.