Jefferson Pierce is already fighting a war on two fronts, at work and in his free time, against The 100 again on Black Lightning but a third might be added soon. Jefferson’s home life might be under attack too, if the cliffhanger to the episode “Black Jesus” can be believed. After being paralyzed by a stray bullet, Jennifer’s boyfriend, Khalil Payne, was visited by Black Lightning’s main villain, Tobias Whale. It was all in an attempt to turn the youth against the series’ hero, with offer to join forces. It’s an offer that Khalil seems perfectly poised to take.
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Fall from Grace into the Dark Side
Anyone with a basic understanding of dramatic structure should’ve realized that Khalil was in for a rough road when he showed up in episode 2 being as sweet and innocent as it’s possible to be for a 17-year-old boy. Khalil was so instantly likable and just removed from the main cast enough that it was obviously going to go bad for him, very quickly. Even so, Black Lightning didn’t waste much time in making Khalil as miserable as possible and having Tobias swoop in with an easy “fix.”
The pitch that Tobias made to Khalil at the end of “Black Jesus” about taking away his pain, offering him loads of money and giving him a sense of power, would be tempting to anyone. It’s pretty much irresistible to a kid whose forever the lost the one thing he was great at and could’ve helped him get to a better life, his athleticism. Khalil is at the lowest point in his life and Tobias whispers so many sweet promises, even if he’s telling half truths it’s tempting.
Even though Tobias just seems to want to use Khalil to turn the public against Black Lightning, it probably won’t stop there. Khalil is desperate enough and Tobias heartless enough that the gangster will continue to corrupt Khalil until he joins The 100 in full. As tragic and potentially heartbreaking as that story sounds, it’s also one that Black Lightning really should tell.
The Face of The 100
Black Lightning has just started but it already has a lot of sympathy for its villains, at least those belonging on a smaller stage. It was mentioned that LaLa (before he turned into a gangster and got his neck crushed) was a former student of Jefferson’s and otherwise decent person. Black Lightning let Two Bits go free, even though he was a drug dealer, because he was trying to support his family. It’s even been established that Tobias Whale turned to a life of crime after a failed political career and presumed prejudice over him being an albino.
Although there are superpowers and characters like Lady Eve, embalming people who aren’t entirely dead, Black Lightning does have a very realistic and grounded look at crime and gang life. The gangsters of Black Lightning aren’t one-dimensional evil thugs, they’re people. People who may be a little morally ambiguous, brutal and violent but people all the same. This is the chief reason why it would be in Black Lightning‘s best interest to take Khalil’s relationship with Tobias to its natural conclusion and have Khalil join The 100.
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As much as Black Lightning has tried to make individual characters have their own stories and motivations, The 100, as an entity, seems like a wild and untamed beast. The closest representation of the average The 100 member was Will in the pilot and he left a lot to be desired, being the stereotype of every idiotic and overly aggressive young gangster. As upsetting as it would be see Khalil turn from the shy kid who was afraid to admit he was a virgin to Jennifer to a hardcore member of The 100, it would also be fascinating.
Jefferson’s mission is all about saving his community as Black Lightning. For that goal to have any kind of resonance Black Lightning needs to convince the audience that the people of Freeland are worth saving, including the members of The 100. Every resident of Freeland should be worthy of redemption and salvation, not just those aligned with Jefferson. By charting Khalil’s journey to becoming a member of The 100, Black Lightning could put a face to every member of the gang and make them seem more than a teeming horde.
But what do you think will happen to Khalil? Will he join The 100? Should he join The 100? Does Tobias have more plans for him than using him to turn the public against Black Lightning?
Black Lightning season 1 airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Black Lightning Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of The CW)