Black Lightning lovers, welcome back to the land of the free! We’re now ten weeks deep into season one, and there’s something that’s been bugging me for the last few episodes. It started off as a small thing, but now? I’m fully engaged with it, and I’m not sure it’s a thing I can shake. So, what’s on my mind? Gambi! I think…I think I hate Gambi. And I need to talk about it. But before I get into that, let’s get into what happened on the latest episode of Black Lightning. Like always, I’ll try not to spoil everything in the show, but you’ve been warned, there will be spoilers.
The show starts off with Anissa following up on a lead Gambi gave her. The clues trail off at some kind of creepy warehouse. The creep factor starts flirting with ten levels when we learn that the entire warehouse is filled with teenagers sleeping in cold storage. When Anissa tells her father about what she discovered, Jefferson tells her those are probably the same kids that were abducted from Freeland almost thirty years earlier. It turns out that the ASA has been in the business of collecting the children in Freeland that have powers, and now that the ASA has started moving Green Light through town, business has really picked up.
We then return to Club 100, where we learn that Lala’s all the way back from the dead now and has been spending the majority of his time trying to reboot his career in the drug game. I’m not completely sure what’s happening to this man, but with each appearance his personality seems to get more reckless and unstable. He’s still talking to living embodiments of the people tattooed on his chest, and just like before, only he can see them. He faces a little static from his new goons (and consignment associates) around trying to move “good old-fashioned, regular drugs,” but thanks to a little gun violence (Lala style), he is able to quickly assuage the worries of said new business partners and get back to the business of selling vices.
Next, Gambi gets kidnapped by the ASA. And, after a round of intense (read: blood-soaked) interrogation, they realize they won’t get much information out of Gambi. So, they send for Jefferson (while he’s still at school doing his principal thing) as a way to force Gambi’s hand. Jefferson shows up where they are holding Gambi and sees that he’s just barely clinging to life (the ASA really did a number on him). They’ve been questioning Gambi to find out who and where Black Lightning is. And little did they know, they walked the man right into their front door!
Jefferson uses his powers to kill the lights in the warehouse and Gambi kills every ASA agent in the room. After their escape, Jefferson gets Gambi back to the shop basement to get some rest and recovery. But before he passes out, Gambi reveals to Jefferson that if the ASA is collecting children again, then they must have a scout. Someone who covertly goes into the community and finds targets for the agency. And that if he wants to stop the ASA, he has to stop their scout. An easy enough task (yea, right), until we learn that the ASA’s undercover scout is...Jefferson Pierce’s assistant principal, Kara Fowdy!
Now, Let’s Talk About Gambi
So, who is this man, really? Yes, he’s the adoptive father of Jefferson…but I think, as far as greater themes go, he’s supposed to represent the fallen father. Here is this guy, who upon first meeting, you think is this upstanding member of society. He’s out in the streets, adopting orphans, keeping himself heavily draped in fancy Italian clothing, and secretly backing up the biggest hero in Freeland. Only later we discover, that while, yes, he is currently all of those things, he’s also a past (can you even leave the ASA?) operative of a covert (and actively racist) government organization that has terrorized his community and him personally his whole life.
The latest episode of Black Lightning really pushed us as viewers into a space where we have to question what redemption truly is, and who may or not be worthy of it. And honestly, I find Gambi to still be lacking. I really felt Jefferson when he was speaking to Anissa about Gambi’s past, and how “some things you can’t make right.” Because Jefferson is right. At least in my humble opinion, that’s the way I see it. Trust and forgiveness are two things not easily given in this life. And once either is lost? Gaining them both again can be almost impossible.
Gambi once worked as a high level operative in a secret human trafficking organization that preyed on minorities in Freeland as their modus operandi. He is literally the reason Jefferson’s actual father was murdered, and he’s been helping to hide said murderer and his murdering/drug-dealing associates from the long arm of the law for almost thirty years now. All that and Jefferson is supposed to get over it just because the man sewed together a couple of flashy costumes? Nah. I don’t think so. And yes, I know Gambi has done more than that. And yes, I know Gambi has been a stand-in father figure/male role model for Jefferson and his children, but…the part where he kept this secret the entire time and only spilled the beans after they were literally pried from his heavily-mustachioed lips? That just doesn’t get my “maybe-we-should-forgive-Gambi” motor started.
I realize family relations are difficult, and sometimes folks are offered forgiveness after decades of bad behavior. I’m just saying that right now, if it were up to me, I’d sound like Jefferson at the beginning of this episode right up until the series finale. To crib from Seinfeld, no forgiveness for you!
- I loved how the lyrics in Mick Jenkins “Drowning” played off of how Thunder holds her breath
- I died laughing at Black Lightning trying to help Two Bits to stay off the weed-duh
- Jennifer asking Jefferson how he uses the bathroom in his suit? Hilarious.
- Jefferson telling Marquis that everyone else was “behind that preposition”
- That entire scene with Two Bits and the two air conditioners
- These Black Lightning and Thunder tag team moves are getting pretty impressive!
That’s everything I have for this week’s episode of Black Lightning! Feel free to start a conversation about it in the comments below, or, if you really want to say a thing to me, I’m always available on Twitter at @RegularEtCetera.
Regular Et Cetera covers Black Lightning as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. Look for him on Twitter at @RegularEtCetera. Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on The CW.