Sunday, December 8, 2019

Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 8 - The Book of Resistance: Chapter Three: The Battle of Franklin Terrace

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



Plot

Jefferson Pierce's days of playing nice with the ASA are officially over, leading to a stand-off when Black Lightning and the Resistance join forces to defend the Franklin Terrace apartment complex from the ASA and Painkiller being sent to take out Black Lightning. Meanwhile, Tobias Whale continues to manipulate Lynn from behind the scenes, Gambi and Anissa search for a way to deliver the truth of what is happening in Freeland to the outside world and Jennifer reconciles with Brandon and begins to explore her new power levels with the grounded boy.


Goofs

Why does Thunder leave in the middle of the siege to take Gambi the footage Jamilla Olsen gave her? Didn't she do that already earlier in the episode?


Performances

Marvin "Krondon" Jones III steals the show as Tobias, managing to be menacing even when he's strapped to a doctor's table.


Artistry

The balance between the action scenes and the music used to back them is fantastic.


Trivia

Tobias paraphrases Revelation 6:8 of the King James Bible when describing himself to the ASA agent interviewing him; And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.


Technobabble

Lynn is farming Tobias' blood for the antibodies containing the stabilization cure.

Brandon suggests that he's immune to Jennifer's powers because being an Earth-bender makes him naturally grounded.

A power flare is when a metahuman's powers surge out of control due to their emotions going out of control. In the case of Brandon, this results in a powerful localized earthquake.


Dialogue Triumphs

Tobias: I'm not a meta. I'm something different. I ride the pale horse and Hell follows with me.

Tobias: You know, Dr. Stewart, I'm jealous of you. Yes. Jealous because you're going to be famous.
(Lynn turns away from Tobias, pointedly ignoring him.)
Tobias: Come, come now. Don't be modest. I can see you on the cover of Ebony and Essence now. "Dr. Lynn Stewart, the strong, sexy, intelligent black woman who saved Freeland and the world by enslaving black youth. " Hmm.
Lynn: What're you rambling about?
Tobias: Fame, my dear. Fame for the cure.
Lynn: I asked you a question.
Tobias: Don't be naive, Dr. Stewart. You know exactly what the ASA is gonna do with those metas once you stabilize them. Just look at the roster you gave me. Super strength. Accelerated healing. And my favorite - camouflage! Seem like weapons to me.
Lynn: I've heard it all before.
Tobias: Oh, really? From who?
(Lynn doesn't answer, but that in itself is an answer given her expression.)
Tobias: Wait. You don't mean Black Lightning? How interesting. I guess he's smarter than I thought. Then again, that suit. Tell me. I've always been curious. Is he a big fan of Earth, Wind & Fire? Or is it Parliament? Perhaps Bootsy Collins.
Lynn: I'm not being naive. I know the ASA wants to use the metas as weapons and once they're stabilized, they might decide they want that too, but at least this way I'm giving them a choice.
Tobias: Hmm, is that what they're calling slavery these politically correct days? I've worked with the ASA for decades, with you about a month and some change. Does it look like these kids have a "choice" to make of their own? No, Dr. Stewart, the choice has already been made for them. Those kids will be weapons whether they like it or not. And not just them. But everyone in Freeland with the meta-gene. Now that the ASA knows what Green Light can do, they'll flood the city until they get as many metas as they can.
Lynn: It's not possible.
Tobias: (skeptically) Hmm.
Lynn: How would they even get that much Green Light?
Tobias: I don't know. But what I do know is, it'll be all because of you. (mockingly) The great, smart, talented, and beautiful Dr. Lynn Stewart.

Jefferson: Look, Mrs. Shepard-
Mrs. Shepard: Ah-ah-ah. I've lived here for 45 years. This is my home. I'm not going anywhere.
Jefferson: I understand that, but it's just an apartment. It's not worth it.
Mrs. Shepard: You disappoint me, Jefferson. You know better than anyone what this means, what this place means. Look. Come.
(Mrs. Shepard gestures to the window and points out it when Jefferson comes to look with her.) 
Mrs. Shepard:  You see that street down there? That's where we had the sit-in to get the right for colored folks to live here. You see that old hickory tree, the one you used to love to play under? That's where I met Obama when he came to Freeland. (laughs)  He was so tall. This is more than just an apartment. This is part of me. Part of our people. Have you forgotten that?
Jefferson: No, no. They're gonna throw you out. (sighs) They'll hurt you. Mrs. Shepard, please. This is not a wise decision.
Mrs. Shepard: I know that they hurt you. I saw the video. You chose not to fight back. This is my decision. I'm staying.
Jefferson: I hear you, I do. But I just-
Mrs. Shepard: Things don't always happen the way you want them to. Sometimes, you just have to do what you know is right. And trust that you're in God's hands.
Jefferson: Good-bye, Mrs. Shepard.

(Commander Williams' eyes glow blue, revealing he is now copying Black Lighting's powers. He approaches the porch of the apartment building, where Black Lighting is standing. Waiting.)
Commander Williams: This is your final warning. Step down, meta-freak.
Black Lightning: This building belongs to the people of Freeland. We ain't leaving.
Commander Williams: Fine. Then just die.
(Commander Williams shoots lighting out of his hands. Black Lighting holds the energy off with his own.)
Commander Williams: (strained) You don't wanna dance with me. I have your powers and the finest tactical training on Earth.
Black Lightning: (not even breaking a sweat) Yeah, right. The thing is, you've got a lot of electricity coursing through your nervous system right now. I've got this suit to protect me. You don't. Meta.
Commander Williams: (weakly) I see your point.
(Commander Williams collapses and has to be carried off by his commandos, as the crowd watching the fight from the street cheers.)


Continuity

Tobias Whale's date of birth is April 20, 1946. In Western Astrology, this makes him either am Aries or a Taurus. As befits a "cusp", both descriptions seem to suit Tobias Whale as they tend to reflect both signs depending on the time of day they were born. Aries tend to be ruled by their emotions, even if they are naturally inclined towards logic. They are also generally optimistic and giving towards their friends and family, but Heaven help you if you're an enemy who arouses their ire as they through everything into their passions. Taurus' are practical and pragmatic but equally territorial in regards to their family. All in all this fits Tobias' nature as a skillful planner who values those close to him but who gets emotional when he's been betrayed.

Anissa's powers appear to be back to normal. Gambi still advises her to take it easy.

Anissa still has a nasty-looking scar where Painkiller's dart hit her. It is, thankfully, clearing up as Anissa continues taking the antivenom Gambi gave her.

Gambi discovered through the ASA mainframe that the official cover-story the ASA is using to keep people out of Freeland is that there was a SARS outbreak. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, they government is trying to stop a disease from spreading.

Gambi's electronic equipment can only broadcast as far as South Freeland and he still needs something that shows the truth about what is happening in Freeland besides the video of Jefferson being beaten by ASA commandos.

Tobias points out to Lynn that all the metahumans the ASA is working to save have powers with combat applications and suggests that they are planning to turn Freeland into a farm for metahumans once they use him to stabilize the metagene.

Brandon reconciles with Jennifer.

Jennifer tests the theory that Brandon can't be hurt by her powers because he's naturally grounded.

Anissa approaches Jamilla Olsen as Blackbird and asks if she has any footage they can use to send a signal outside Freeland. Jamilla agrees to gather her best footage for a short, sweet video.

Major Grey was apparently injured in the battle between her forces and Black Lightning. This has made Commander Williams - the ASA soldier with the metahuman ability to copy other metahumans powers - the effective commander of the ASA forces in Freeland.

Henderson comes to Jefferson and tells him that the ASA is clearing out Franklin Terrace, Jefferson's old apartment complex when he was a kid, and forcing the residents out to turn the building into a barracks for more ASA soldiers. The only hold-out so far is their third-grade teacher, Mrs. Shephard.

Jefferson agrees to try and talk Mrs. Shephard out.

Jennifer lies to Brandon about how she got her powers, saying that some guy slipped Green Light into her drink at a party.

Brandon says that he got his powers naturally and that his mother was one of Dr. Jace's test subjects. One of Jace's assistants felt bad that a pregnant woman was being experimented on and helped her to escape captivity, but the damage was already done. Brandon says his mother slowly wasted away after he was born and she died two days before he turned 10. After that he was thrown into foster care.

Brandon ran away from home as soon as he figured out he could make diamonds with his powers.

Jennifer tells Brandon she found Jace's last known whereabouts.

Mrs. Shephard has a side business growing and selling weed out of her apartment.

Jefferson broke one of her windows as a kid and she was more upset that his ball knocked over one of her plants than about the broken glass.

Mrs. Shephard lived in Franklin Terrace for 45 years. She can point out the place where they held a sit-in to allow blacks to live there and the hickory tree Jefferson played around as a boy. She says she met President Barack Obama under that same tree and was surprised by how tall he was.

Mrs. Shephard's resolve inspires Jefferson to finally start fighting the ASA openly right there.

Gambi finds an abandoned radio tower in Baker Hills he thinks they can use to get around the ASA transmission blockade.

Anissa gives Gambi the footage Jamilla put together.

Franklin Terrace Apartments is located on the corner of 8th and Lewis.

Anissa dons her Thunder costume for the first time in months to help her father fight to defend Frankin Terrace. She also gathers some Resistance fighters, along with the police loyal to Henderson, to help with the siege.

Gambi discovers that the Baker Hills broadcast facility has been taken over by one of the escaped pod kids - a boy known only as Baron, but he came to call himself TC - short for Technocrat, which was what the ASA called him when he was put into suspended animation in the 1980s.

TC is a technopath who can communicate with and control machines. He fled to Baron Hills because the old machines there were a comfort to him and being in modern civilization was painful due to the sheer amount of "smart machines" most people carry with them now.

Lynn finally admits that she can't let the kids she's been healing become weapons and asks Tobias for help in saving them. He says the simplest way is to help him escape since, without his antibodies, there's no way to stabilize the metagene. Lynn says she doesn't have the security clearance to get him out but Tobias says there is another way - splicing the genes of the girl with camouflage powers and giving them to him so he can sneak himself out.

The ASA report on Dr. Jace which Jennifer gives Brandon says they lost track of her after she was kidnapped by the Markovians.

Brandon is revealed to have the ability to generate earthquakes after he has an anxiety attack thinking about being trapped in Freeland while his mother's killer is somewhere else he can't get to now.

Gambi persuades TC to help him prepare the machines to broadcast a signal out of Freeland.

Thunder fights Painkiller as the ASA sends him in to take out the Resistance. This time, because she is prepared, she is ready and is able to send Painkiller flying out a window.

Anissa recognizes Painkiller as Khalil after he is forced to remove his goggles during their fight.

TC is able to use his powers to make sure Jamilla's message goes through, fighting the ASA attempts to hack and trace their broadcast signal.

Gambi helps Lynn to escape from The Pit, as the deal between the ASA and the Pierce family is officially declared off now that Black Lightning and Thunder are fighting with the Resistance openly. 

Lynn is able to escape but loses the bag containing her Green Light based intelligence enhancement drugs.

Jefferson stands up to Commander Williamson and sends the ASA running from Franklin Terrace.

Henderson welcomes Black Lightning to the Resistance.


The Bottom Line

A solid episode, though the subplot with Tobias gaining a new power is left dangling and it's unclear if Lynn actually did as he suggested before she left The Pit. The subplots are pretty well balanced, though the introduction of TC sticks out a bit. It still seems a bit odd that Jennifer is running around doing her own thing and nobody in her family seems to have noticed her absence. Still, the individual scenes work well this week even if it does seem like there's four different shows contained within this single narrative.

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