Sunday, November 3, 2019

Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 4 - The Book of the Occupation: Chapter Four: Lynn's Ouroborus

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.




Plot

Returned to a drastically different Freeland, Jefferson faces new challenges in his civilian identity as Lynn feels the pressure to find a cure for the metahuman plague and turns to drastic measures. Meanwhile, Jennifer has her confidence shaken, as Anissa continues her secret work as Blackbird while rebuilding her relationship with Grace.


Influences

The Judd Winick run of Outsiders (Grace and Anissa's romance)


Goofs

Granting that the ASA is your typical stupid evil government organization, you'd think any plan that involves getting your chief scientist and the only person capable of saving your investment hooked on a drug would be a phenomenally stupid idea.


Performances

Jordan Calloway has developed Painkiller into the kind of villain you love to hate yet feel sorry for and his new smiling, earnest yet ruthless persona is one of the best things about the new season.


Artistry

It's a subtle note in the script, but it's pleasantly surprising to see Principal Lowery trying to stand up for the students and resist the ASA, even if it was likely born of his refusing to have anyone question his authority rather than any personal interest in student welfare.

The effects work for the final scene with Jennifer in orbit is some of the best the show has seen. In fact, it's better than the similar effects for Jean Grey's fire in Dark Phoenix.


Trivia

The note about Grace being trafficked as a sex slave as a child is taken directly from her background in the comics.


Technobabble

The metahuman virus has properties similar to Ebola.

The chemical structure of the metahuman virus is similar to a chemical compound found in both Green Light and the ASA vaccines.

Without exception, Green Light users develop a notable boost in brain activity.

Lynn theorizes that by removing the psychoactive properties of Green Light, she can make it safe for consumption and use the drug to enhance her intelligence. The process is similar to the one used to extract the THC from from marijuana. The end result is that Lynn developed a drug that left her with increased focus and an enhanced ability to process information.

Gambi created a mobile Faraday cage disguised as a coffee tumbler. It can be used to block the signal of any electronic device placed in it.

Gambi also created a device to mimic the signal of the tracking device they think is implanted in Jefferson's new costume watch.

Gambi coated the tires of several ASA vehicles with a radioactive resin, leaving a trail he could use to find The Pit.

According to Gambi, Jefferson's new suit is far better than anything he ever made in his life. He says it would have taken him $30 billion and ten guys working around the clock to equal it. The costume is based around next-gen nanotech, and has an increased conductivity threshold that allows Jefferson to generate 20-30% more electricity without any risk of damaging his nervous system.

According to Agent Odell, the active ingredient of Green Light is the most addictive substance on Earth.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Jefferson and Jennifer are moving past the line of students waiting to be tested for the metagene.)
Jefferson: To think, once upon a time I was worried about metal detectors.
Jennifer: It's not about corner boys now. If a war breaks out, we're gonna be really happy the ASA is here.
Jefferson: (stunnded) Wait, what? Jen. (quietly) Jen, you saw what happened at that checkpoint. They pointed guns at us!
Jennifer: Didn't you just let the ASA experiment on you? 'Cause I'm pretty sure you did. Why would you do that if you thought the ASA was no good, Dad?
Jefferson: To protect you.
Jennifer: (bitterly) That's always the reason, isn't it?

(Brandon, Jennifer and Kiesha are talking about Tavon's arrest while smoking in a bathroom.)
Brandon: So they're just gonna lock him up and wait till the results come in?
Jennifer: There's no way in hell Tavon's a meta.
Brandon: I heard someone dropped a "see something, say something" dime on him. Got some beef over a girl.
Kiesha: (To Jennifer) You really believe that peacekeeping stuff - about the ASA helping?
Jennifer: Look, I don't know. Okay? But what I do know is, Markovia's dangerous. I've been hearing some crazy stuff about them, like war-crime stuff.
Brandon: That's dumb as hell. How could you judge an entire country based off of rumors? (scoffs) Y'all don't even know what the hell y'all talking about, man.
Jennifer: Oh, and you do?
Brandon: I'm just saying. History is written by whoever wins. So unless we experience things firsthand, how do we know it's true?
Jennifer: Well, if it was up to my mom, I would never experience anything. I really hate how they say that they want us to be better than them. 'Cause in reality, they never do.


Dialogue Disasters

Major Grey: Anything dealing with that rebel scum, including their dietary needs, is an ASA matter and well beyond your current mandates.


Continuity

At this episode opens, it has been six days since Lynn began trying to cure the metahuman plague.

Lynn develops an intelligence-enhancing drug based on Green Light, which she begins taking in a desperate bid to develop a cure for the metahuman virus faster.

Since Jefferson was locked up by the ASA, traffic-stop check-points have been established around Freeland.

People who have been cleared as non-metahumans are given special ID cards to get them through the check points.

Agent Odell has given all of the Pierces fake cards declaring them to be non-metas.

A group of Resistance members armed with energy weapons attack the checkpoint as Jefferson is taking Jennifer to school.

Gambi goes to work on blocking the tracking device in Jefferson's new costume.

Gambi has an ex-wife he refuses to talk about, but he sympathizes with Jefferson not seeing eye-to-eye with Lynn on how much they should work with the ASA.

Gambi says he'll also figure out how to locate The Pit and let Jefferson focus on saving his marriage.

Agent Odell continues to check up on Jennifer. When she asks how she can be sure the Markovians are a threat when the ASA is controlling the Internet in and out of Freeland, he offers to send her a link to an ASA intel video regarding Markovia's operations around the world.

The 100 are hijacking ASA trucks carrying weapons and supplies.

Agent Odell sends Painkiller out to find out who is responsible for his missing trucks.

Jamillah Olsen is reporting on how now students are being forced to submit to metagene testing.

Brandon already has an ASA non-meta pass, despite the students at Garfield High just now being tested and given individual IDs.

Jefferson sees video footage of Anissa (as Blackbird) throwing a tank at ASA agents.

Jefferson's class roster was permanently assigned to another teacher, per ASA orders. They also apparently arranged for him to get a pay-raise, a nicer office, less work and reassigned him to be Garfield High's guidance counselor, all over the objections of Principal Lowery.

Jefferson directly voices his displeasure over Freeland being under martial law to Agent Odell. As with Jennifer, Agent Odell says this is necessary because Markovian agents killed his people and will turn Freeland into a war-zone if not countered. He further threatens Jefferson with putting Anissa and Jennifer in The Pit if he doesn't keep cooperating.

The ASA commandeer Freeland PD HQ as another facility for holding metahumans, over Henderson's objections.

Agent Odell sends Jennifer a video on the Markovian invasion of Sudan which leaves her in tears. Markvoia has been accused of all manner of war-crimes, but the UN has yet to be able to get into Sudan to access the damage.

One of Lynn's patients is a bus driver named Richard who has lived in Freeland all his life. He's been married 38 years and been working the same job one month longer than he's been married. He has two sons and one daughter named Olivia, plus an undetermined number of grandchildren. His daughter is about to get married to a man he likes (though he'd never admit it.)

Blackbird stops several members of the Resistance from buying weapons from the 100. She says that she won't have her symbol or name being used to shoot-up ASA checkpoints.

Jefferson goes to speak to Anissa and finds Grace at her apartment.

Jefferson and Anissa argue about Grace being aware of her secret identity. This causes Grace to have an anxiety attack, and she shape-shifts into a young girl.

Anissa reveals that she knows Grace's real name is Shay Li Wylde and that she was trafficked as a sex slave as a young girl.

Lynn is revealed to be practically living in her lab now, stopping back at the Pierce house only to get a few things before going back to continue synthesizing a vaccine.

Painkiller tracks four of the missing trucks to two ASA guards. They confess that they were paid for a delivery schedule by Sinzell - the 100 drug dealer who is running the black market in Freeland.

Jennifer's class discusses government sponsored genocide in comparison to the situation in Freeland. Jennifer is the only student in favor of government occupation of a territory in order to prevent violence - an approach which Brandon points out didn't work in Rawanda.

Tavon Singley, one of Jefferson's favorite students, is taken into custody by the ASA.

Principal Lowery tries to stop this, and is beaten by the ASA soldiers for his efforts.

Lynn gets her vaccine for the meta-virus to work on Richard.

Henderson tells Jefferson about Tavon being held in the FPD HQ.

Anissa tells Jefferson about the Freeland Resistance and the effort to get metahumans out of Freeland through an Underground Railroad. She says it is made up of herself, Reverend Holt and a handful of other people.

Anissa is stunned when Jefferson approves of what she's done with The Resistance and the Underground Railroad out of Freeland.. He even laughs at the irony of her nickname of Harriet - a reference to Harriet Tubman.

Jefferson, Gambi, Henderson and Anissa organize a raid on the FPD HQ that frees all the imprisoned Resistance members as well as Tavon.

Painkiller tracks down Sinzell and kills him.

Tavon flees to South Freeland along with the freed metahumans.

The Resistance members all elect to stay in Freeland and keep fighting, even though the ASA has identified them now.

Agent Odell tells Jefferson he knows that he was involved in the attack on the police station and that was his last chance.

Gambi tracks down the location of The Pit.

It is revealed that the ASA was already aware of the effects of the alternate Green Light formula that Lynn is now taking and that they have been using subliminal messages on their computers to encourage her to keep taking the formula she thought she had devised on her own.

Agent Odell gives Jennifer a new suit and an ear-piece. He then instructs her to change and fly straight up until she hears beeping. She moves up high enough to see the curvature of the Earth and a corona of energy springs up around her, making her eyes glow - a sensation that is apparently pleasing based on Jennifer's reaction.


The Fridge Factor

Jennifer's IQ has dropped about 50 points, with the cynical young woman who didn't believe much of anything suddenly becoming a member of the ASA Hitler Youth, so to speak.


The Winick Factor

Jefferson's sudden freak-out over Jennifer wanting to be famous over video footage shot while she was fleeing the ASA doesn't ring true.


The Bottom Line

Uneven in the extreme, with minor characters from the past season suddenly reintroduced with little rhyme or reason. Tavon's exodus and Lowery's humbling might have meant more if either of them had been a major presence in the show. For every magical moment that works (most of the Painkiller scenes, Jennifer's discovering the extent of her power, Jefferson telling Anissa how proud he is, the raid on the Freeland PD HQ) there are just as many terrible moments where the melodrama doesn't work (Anything involving Major Grey, Lynn's scenes with Richard, and everything involving Lynn's newfound drug addiction.). Quite probably the worst episode of the series to date.

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