Lynn begins working on the Green Light Babies in a new secure location, as Jennifer begins plotting her revenge on Tobias Whale. Meanwhile, Anissa makes a startling discovery about her girlfriend, Grace Choi, and Jefferson receives some interesting news regarding the possibility of his becoming Principal again.
Batman and the Outsiders (character of Shakedown) and Judd Winick's Outsiders (Grace Choi's background as a child sex slave.)
Again, this is China Anne McClain's show to steal.
The direction and pacing of the story by Robert Townsend is top-notch.
The episode title - Pillar of Fire - is a Biblical reference to one of the forms taken by God to be a guiding light to the Children of Israel.
The first of the super soldiers Tobias wakes up is a man named Marcus Bishop aka Shakedown, who it is said can control and emit vibrations. In the original Batman and the Outsiders comics, Marcus Bishop had the same code name and powers and was part of the mercenary group known as The Masters of Disaster.
Rather than just generating earthquakes, this version of Shakedown is able to use his powers in a manner similar to Count Vertigo, causing intense pain in people's heads.
This episode reveals that Grace Choi was the victim of human trafficking and sold into a prostitution ring when she was 16. In the original Outsiders series, Grace was kidnapped and sold into sex slavery at a much younger age, escaping when her powers manifested at puberty. Her father's identity was never confirmed, but her mother was revealed to be a part of the Bana Amazons who exiled themselves from Themyscira.
The power grid of Gambi's sanctum is built to withstand the electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear explosion, yet Jennifer is able to short it out while outputting half of her total power.
Gambi has a Geiger counter built into his watch. He uses it to determine that the pods kept in the secret room of the clinic were slightly radioactive and left behind a residue.
The super-soldiers are awoken by use of a special serum and controlled through an implant in their heads that corresponds to a watch worn by their handler.
Lynn says that she's discovered a way to jump-start the neurotransmitters in the pod kids' brains, speeding up their recovery and reviving them permanently.The treatment involves using a derivative of Looker's silver element, which can supercharge deteriorating nerve cells in metahumans.
Dr. Jace says she has some new theories on how to tackle the pod kids' cellular matrix deficiencies.
The drug Grace was taking is a custom compound in a mega dose of a medication used to treat schizophrenia.
(Jennifer has just shorted out the computers in Gambi's sanctum while testing her powers in a sound-proof shield-zone.)
Jefferson: So my hot-headed 16-year-old daughter is a walking nuclear bomb?
Gambi: Not nuclear, Jeff, but like Perenna said, she is powerful. Extremely powerful.
Jefferson: After all she's been through... I'm not sure she's stable enough to keep her abilities in check.
Jefferson: (walking over to the microphone) Yeah?
Jennifer: You know Anissa taught me how to read lips, right?
(Jefferson's face drops.)
Jennifer: (sarcastic) So thanks for your vote of confidence. I appreciate it.
(Tobias inspects the tech used to manage the super soldiers.)
Tobias: I'll give those evil child-snatchin' bastards one thing. They've got great taste in watches.
Tavon: You know, it's not right what Lowry's doing. Garfield is your school. All he cares about is making rules and making himself look better in front of his bosses, and that's not right. I mean, all the students think so. The teachers, too.
Jefferson: Okay, look, Tavon, I was the one who wasn't here for Garfield when it needed me most. Not Lowry.
(Tavon nods and starts to walk away but then turns around.)
Tavon: You always say that Garfield is a place for second chances. Where's your second chance, Principal Pierce?
(Jefferson stands there, stunned and gratified.)
Napier: (from behind Jefferson) If you wanna bask in this "Lean on Me" moment a little longer, I can come back a little later.
Anissa: I know you're frustrated-
Jennifer: Please. Don't do that. I already know what you'll say. You'll side with Dad and say I need to be responsible.
Anissa: Hell no!
(Jennifer is surprised.)
Anissa: Look, Tobias has to go. But what I do agree with Dad is, is that Tobias is dangerous. And we can't be running around half-cocked with no plan. We cannot take Tobias down if he kills us first. Jennifer: Wait, did you just say "we"?
Anissa: You thought I'd let you go out there alone?
50% of Jennifer's power out-put is more energy than Jefferson was able to handle in his prime as Black Lightning.
Anissa taught Jennifer how to read lips.
Agent Odell offers Lynn a lab at Bowman College and a $1 million grant in exchange for her help in moving the Green Light Babies. Lynn refuses until she is given straight answers about what the ASA is up to.
Agent Odell tells Lynn about Markovia's metahuman weapons program and how the instability of the metahumans they created resulted in them being put in stasis. With Lynn close to stabilizing the Green Light Babies, Lynn has become a target of the Markovian government, which could use her research to make their army viable in the long-term.
Lynn agrees to help move the pod kids on the condition that Dr. Jace be kept away from her.
Anissa searches Grace's abandoned apartment and finds a photo of her with a couple she assumes are Grace's parents. She also finds one of Grace's pills. She eventually asks Gambi for help analyzing the drugs.
Henderson and Gambi investigate the hidden room in the free clinic. Gambi is unable to say if the four large objects removed from it are a different design of suspension pod, but he does confirm they are radioactive but only in the degree to be a power source - not a weapon.
Dr. Jace gives Tobias a syringe full of a serum that awakens the soldier-metahumans and several of the watches that control them.
The first soldier Tobias awakens is a man named Marcus Bishop who was called Shakedown who has vibration control and emission powers. His powers are such that he can overpower Cutter's telekinesis and he is able to match her in pure hand-to-hand fighting.
Jefferson is apparently teaching English Literature now.
Dr. Napier Frank, last seen in 201, shows up to tell Jefferson that he thinks he can get Jefferson reinstated as Principal after the footage of Lowry's racist response to a student protest in 212 was posted on-line by students and went viral.
Tobias and Cutter have entered into a sexual relationship.
Lynn is using a derivative of Looker's silver "element" to treat the pod kids. Looker was last seen in 207.
Gambi is making a supersuit for Jennifer.
Tobias offers to make Shakedown a partner in his organization rather than a puppet.
Jennifer crashes at Anissa's house for a few days just to get away from her parents' home for a bit.
Anissa agrees to help Jennifer get revenge on Tobias, but says they have to come up with a solid plan of attack first
Lynn wants to take Wendy Hernandez (last seen in 202) and move her into the isolation wing of the hospital.
Jennifer attacks some of Tobias' men at Club 100 trying to find where he is.
Gambi discovers that Grace Choi's real name is Shay Li Wylde and that she was a foster child until she was abducted and forced into prostitution at the age of 16, where she was until she was freed by ICE. She disappeared until she emerged in Freeland as Grace Choi.
Jefferson advises the school-board to let Lowry keep his job and be given more time to implement his program.
Grace is apparently schizophrenic.
Anissa saves Jennifer after she goes after one of Tobias' runners at the Seahorse Motel.
Shakedown and Cutter try to take over the ASA lab where the Green Light Babies are.
Dr. Jace acts to seal the base when she sees Cutter and Shakedown on the security camera.
Shakedown recognizes Dr. Jace.
Dr. Jace has one of the watches that lets her control the four super soldiers.
Dr. Jace agrees to help Cutter and Shakedown collect the rest of the Green Light Babies.
Dr. Napier tells Jefferson not to expect any more favors from here after he wasted all the capital he had on a chance for Jefferson to get his job back, only for Jefferson to speak in favor of Lowry.
All of the Green Light Babies except Wendy Hernandez are abducted by the time Black Lightning and Thunder get to the ASA base.
Perrena says that Jennifer is full of anger and she may literally explode if she doesn't find a way to cleanse herself of it.
Dr. Jace says she can get the Green Light Babies fully healed in two weeks to a month.
Todd Green is given a new car (which explodes) now that the's outlived his usefulness, with the Proctor Briefcase hacked and Dr. Jace now overseeing all the Metahuman Pods for Tobias.
The Fridge Factor
Grace's entire background is based around rape and trauma, with the added bonus of it being used to give Anissa angst.
The Winick Factor
Grace was one of Judd Winick's pet characters who was entirely defined by a laundry list of traits (Chinese, ex-child sex slave, lesbian) rather than an actual personality. Thankfully, the show has taken steps to mitigate this, but it is still saddening they went back to her shock-based origin story.
The Bottom Line
A well-directed, well-acted episode which managed to get all of its subplots moving along a little bit. A fine episode to end with before going into a three week break.