Jefferson and his team return to Freeland with Lynn and Dr. Jace, but the war in Freeland is only beginning. Still, Jefferson's focus is on rebuilding things with his family, even as the cold war between Lady Eve and Lala heats up and Graverdigger prepares for an all-out invasion.
Various Outsiders comics (The interactions of the teen heroes.) and Captain America: The First Avenger (the sequence where Gravedigger gets his powers and fights during WWII.)
Jill Scott steals the show this week as Lady Eve.
The production values on the Gravedigger origin flashback sequence are solid and look more like a cinematic war movie than a flashback scene on a CW drama.
Lady Eve uses the Latin phrase Imperium in Imperio to restore Lala's control after incapacitating him with the code phrase E pluribus unum. "Imperium in Imperio" is a reference to a deep state - that is to say a governing body within another governing body, typically acting in secret. It is also the name of the first novel by Sutton E. Griggs, which discussed a Utopian secret African state hidden within the United States.
Jefferson: We came across an American meta in Markovia. Now, my intel says he's heading to Freeland, leading the Markovian invasion. Calls himself Gravedigger?
Agent Odell: I'm not familiar with that name but rest assured, I will perform the due diligence. Am I to assume I can count on you in the coming war?
Jefferson: No. Freeland can.
(Jefferson has just caught Lynn, who stumbled and fell while they were cooking dinner together.)
Jefferson: Baby... baby, you're sweating, but you're cold as ice.
Lynn: It's the withdrawals. I'm surprised it's taken this long to manifest.
Jefferson: Is there anything else I can do for you?
Lynn: Jeff... I'm an addict. I never truly knew, all those years, what it was like for you being Black Lightning. The weight of the world on your shoulders. Knowing you could fix it. I understand that lure and why you couldn't stop. I should've seen that I was forcing you to be something that you weren't, and I am sorry.
Jefferson: No, no, no. I'm sorry. If I'd gone after you instead of helping Henderson, then the Markovians wouldn't have gotten you.
(Lynn suddenly gags and grabs her mouth, before running for the bathroom.)
Lynn: Withdrawals. I'm sorry! I love you.!
Jefferson: I love you, too.
Lady Eve: I understand you have a certain briefcase in your possession. One you can't open.
Lala: I don't know nothin' about no briefcase.
Lady Eve: Oh, Lala you know these streets. They talk. And you know what a good listener I am.
Lala: If I had such a thing why would I hand it over to you?
Lady Eve: Because I can give you what you truly want.
Lala: That briefcase is the only thing that will bring Tobias Whale to me. And when he comes to collect, I'll have my revenge come hell or high water.
Lady Eve: (laughing) Oh. Oh, Lala what will you do when you catch the white whale? Oh, right. You can't harm him. Tobias programmed you.
Lala: How you know that?
Lady Eve: (purring) E pluribus unum.
(Suddenly, Lala begins to convulse, as he did when Tobias said that phrase during their last fight. Lady Eve, all smiles and softness before now, goes cold as ice and hard as steel.)
Lady Eve: Sit your ass down!
(Lala does so, but it's clear his body is moving against his mind.)
Lady Eve: You never worked for Tobias Whale. You worked for me. I ran the Shadow Board. Tobias used my technology to keep you on his leash. (sweetly) I can undo that for you, baby. Imperium in Imperio.
(Lala has one more violent convulsion, but suddenly he's breathing normally again. He looks up at Lady Eve and stands, truly shaken.)
Lady Eve: (chuckling) Now, does that sound like something the Godfather of Freeland would be interested in?
(Jennifer is sitting on the ledge outside her bedroom window. Khalil jumps up onto it. A spark is instantly in Jennifer's hand.)
Jennifer: Don't take another step.
Khalil: Yo, it's me, Jen. Khalil.
Jennifer: For how long? (lowers her hand) You know, my sister was right about you. I don't know how I was so blind.
Khalil: I came to apologize. Look, I... I'm not myself anymore. I don't know who I am. But I do know that Painkiller is a part of me and he's not going away. And I have to learn to live with him.
Jennifer: (coldly) I don't. I know you can't see him but when I look into Painkiller's eyes, there's nothin' there but death.
Khalil: Odell made me a weapon, but I know... I know deep down that I still have a soul, Jen. And I need you more than anyone to believe that.
Jennifer: What Odell did to you was evil. But I can't love a weapon that's pointed at my family. Even if it does have a soul.
(There is a long pause. Khalil nods, clearly heartbroken but understanding. He turns around and starts walking away.)
Jennifer: See you around, Khalil.
(Khalil stops. He doesn't turn around when he finally speaks.)
Khalil: No. You won't.
(Lady Eve enters into Gambi's shop, gun drawn. He is waiting for her with his own gun ready.)
Lady Eve: I received your message. You know, Gambi, an e-mail would've sufficed.
Gambi: An old friend like you deserves a personal touch.
Lady Eve: "An eye for an eye. " You're getting literal in your old age. Well, at least I can tell my twins apart now.
Gambi: Speak your piece, Evelyn. One way or another, our feud ends now.
Lady Eve: Okay. I did set a contract for your life, true. But after you took out Joey Toledo, Tobias had me killed. I got better, so bygones?
Gambi: What do you want?
Lady Eve: Same old Gambi. Don't fret. I come bearing gifts.
(Lady Eve raises her other hand and puts The Briefcase on the counter.)
Lady Eve: We both worked for the ASA, so I don't need to tell you what this is, do I?
Gambi: (stunned) Where did you get it?
Lady Eve: Let's say it fell off a truck. I can't open it. You always were more capable when it came to things like this.
Gambi: I taught you better than that, Evelyn. "Never give something for nothing."
Lady Eve: I was gonna get to that part. In my absence, the ASA shattered Freeland. Take this peace offering. Use it to burn down the ASA for what they did to my city. Or not. Either way, my quarrel with the Tailor is over.
Most of Anissa's dialogue in this episode sounds like it was lifted from various after-school specials. Particularly...
Annisa: You have nothing to be ashamed of. Addiction is a disease and it can happen to anybody. We're here to support you and we will get through this. You'll see.
40 years earlier, Gambi had an assignment to rescue or kill Dr. Jace from Markovia. He thinks now that had he killed her the war with Markovia might have been avoided.
Dr. Jace reveals that Gravedigger is the real power in Markovia and that he is out to get every metahuman the ASA have in custody.
Jefferson insists that Dr. Jace be granted her freedom along with all the members of his team.
Tobias Whale is said to have escaped the custody of the ASA and the Markovians.
Erica Moran is said to have been returned to her family.
Despite everything, Agent Odell agrees to honor the ASA agreement with Jefferson.
Agent Odell claims to have never heard of Gravedigger.
Anissa still doesn't trust Khalil. Jennifer believes he is in control of his Painkiller persona.
Lala is currently collecting 30% of Lady Eve's earnings.
Lady Eve offers Devonte his choice of her girls so he can report to Lala that she's delivering a quality product. This is a ploy to slip him a drugged drink and grill him for information. He chooses a girl named Shalon.
TC says that the firewall holding Painkiller in check in Khalil's head is holding up.
Gambi gets Khalil a sketchbook, saying Jennifer told him that Khalil was a good artist and that therapy would help him with his PTSD.
Gambi said that he took up tailoring to help him with his personal trauma.
Gambi also says that he'll contact Perenna, the telepathic therapist who helped Jennifer, once the war in Freeland is over.
Lynn is still fighting the withdrawal symptoms of Green Light addiction.
Jennifer tries to talk Brandon out of killing Dr. Jace. She is not successful.
Through Devonte's chat with Shalon, Lady Eve learns that Lala has the briefcase.
Grace is still resting after the mission in Markovia.
Lynn has a stash of Glimmer hidden in her bathroom.
Jefferson agrees to lead the defense of Freeland against the Markovians on behalf of the ASA and asks Jennifer and Anissa to help, saying they need to keep an eye the ASA.
Jefferson and Lynn agree to a clean slate and total honesty with the rest of the family from now on.
Lynn reveals the last of her drug stash. Jennifer destroys it with her powers.
Anissa tells the family she thinks Grace is the one.
Jennifer tells the family she thinks she killed some Markovian soldiers while working for the ASA in 303.
Jefferson tells his family about the Crisis on Infinite Earths and his role in saving all reality.
Lady Eve knows the code phrase to shut down Lala - E pluribus unum - which was revealed in 216.
Lady Eve knows another code phrase that restores Lala to normal- Imperium in Imperio.
Lady Eve offers to free Lala from the control phrases that were programmed into him forever in exchange for the briefcase.
The Perdi in South Freeland are overun by the Markovians and call Blackbird for help.
Brandon's mother's name was Helen.
Brandon crystallized his mother's ashes and uses the crystals as a weapon to try and kill Dr. Jace.
Dr. Jace reveals that she helped Brandon's mother to escape from Markovia. She also claims to have known Brandon's father and that he had earth-bending powers like Brandon.
The Markovians are said to have kidnapped Anaya and Thierry, though Jefferson and Anissa do manage to save most of The Perdi.
Gambi cuts the eye out of one of Lady Eve's twin bodyguards to send her a message.
Khalil draws Jennifer in her costume.
TC agrees to help Brandon find information on his dad and determine if Dr. Jace was telling the truth.
Painkiller is still determined to complete his last mission before being captured: kill the entire Pierce family.
Painkiller is able to take control of Khalil briefly and poisons Jennifer in the process.
Jennifer is able to burn Painkiller's poison out of her system.
Khalil visits Jennifer and tries to apologize for losing control.
Khalil leaves Jennifer, intending to put as much distance between them as possible.
Lady Eve offers Gambi the briefcase, on the off chance that he'll be able to hurt the ASA with it.
Lady Eve says her grudge with Gambi is settled.
TC is able to open the briefcase for Gambi.
Gambi discovers that the briefcase contains the genome for every metahuman the ASA ever encountered, as well as the secret history of the ASA.
The United States government secretly funded Markovia's metahuman development project
The only successful product of the first experiments to create metahumans during WWII was an African American soldier named Tyson Sykes. Sykes opted to become a test subject rather than face a dishonorable discharge for getting into a fight with some racist soldiers. The experiments triggered his metagene and he became history's first recorded metahuman.
Markovia is said to be close to Russia,which made it an ideal testing ground during the Cold War.
The ASA was established to recreate the formula that produced Painkiller, before they realized it was something in him that created the powers - not the formula itself.
Gambi reveals to Jefferson and Lynn that he had been sent to rescue or kill Dr. Jace, who had been the head doctor of the Markovian project. It was shortly after that the ASA was established.
Gravedigger was said to have led the coup against the Markovian government and kicked out the Americans while operating in secret.
Lynn reveals that she left her meta-booster research in Markovia. This means that, potentially, Gravedigger could be using it to give himself the powers of other metahumans.
The final scene of the episode confirms that Gravedigger has just given himself telekinesis and killed Colonel Mosin.
The Markovian government have surrounded Freeland while Jefferson and his team were away.
The Bottom Line
An enjoyable episode, despite being all over the place in terms of its story. Still, there were a lot of little subplots that did need addressing after all the action last week and this has the odd side-effect of pushing Jefferson into the background for most of the episode. Virtually the only subplot that isn't addressed, ironically enough, is the fate of the Freeland resistance even as we're told that the fighting is getting worse with the Markovians surrounding the city. Still, all the scenes are enjoyable, apart from Anissa being on her high-horse about everything.