Three episodes in, and Black Lightning already has a compelling mystery on its hands: Just what is Gambi’s deal?
Minor spoilers for Black Lightning ahead.
In “Lawanda: The Book of Burial,” the second part to the “Lawanda” two-parter, the city holds a memorial march that Black Lightning/Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) takes upon himself to protect. But Tobias Whale (Krondon), the kingpin of the One Hundred, forcefully puts an end to it by opening fire, the sniper bullet penetrating through the reverend and into the spine of promising high school athlete and Jennifer’s boyfriend Khalil (Jordan Calloway).
That’s not the hard part, though. Unaware of a security camera above, Tobias is caught committing the crime, but Gambi (James Remar) —Pierce’s father figure, mentor, costumer of Black Lightning, and hacker, apparently — erases the evidence. There’s unseen history between Tobias and Jefferson Pierce, as in the past Pierce’s father took down Tobias, a one-time corrupt government official. Tobias also thinks Black Lightning is dead, despite clear evidence to the contrary. But by erasing the footage, what does that mean for Gambi’s play? Is he working for Tobias Whale behind Black Lightning’s back? Or is Gambi playing chess, arranging the pieces for some unknown endgame?
Meanwhile, everyone in the Pierce family are dealing with personal changes: Anissa (Nafessa Williams) starts to fully inhabit her newfound powers, as well as a new girlfriend who just barely breaks the fourth wall with her fandom of actual DC comic books. Jennifer, the youngest Pierce, is ready to have sex, a fact she uncomfortably tells her parents. It’s a conversation that no teenager has willingly engaged with their parents, but Jennifer is no ordinary teenager.
Sadly, Jennifer’s boo Khalil now lies in the hospital, severely injured, and potentially without the use of his legs. It’s a devastating development that would have made Black Lightning’s war with Tobias Whale personal, but Gambi’s erasure of the security footage put an early stop to that. It remains to be seen what Gambi’s true purpose in Black Lightning’s resurrection is. In hindsight, Gambi was all too eager to get Black Lightning back in the game — after all, who just makes an upgraded costume lying around waiting to be used? This convenient superhero trope may be more revealing than it seemed.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern on The CW.