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Review-Black Lightning S3:EP3 / The Book of Occupation (Chapter Three) – Agent Odell’s Pipe-Dream

Black Lightning S3:EP3 / The Book of Occupation (Chapter Three) – Agent Odell’s Pipe-Dream

Directed By: Benny Boom

Written By: Pat Charles

As implied by this episode’s title, the conniving Agent Odell (still brilliantly performed by Bill Duke) is the focal point this time around. To summate the entire episode, the soft-spoken yet devious Odell must contend with his loss of control in certain areas while strengthening it in others. On the negative side, a meta-human virus threatens to kill off his stock of meta-humans, forcing Dr Stewart (Christine Adams) in a race against the clock to find the cure. Elsewhere, between sadistically torturing a rapidly aging Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III), he is successful in coordinating and manipulating Jefferson, Jennifer and Khalil into taking out a Markovian insurgence camp. Admittedly, it was hard to suspend my disbelief in how easily and barely without question Jefferson and Jennifer leapt to assist Odell in his covert operation, even with the tantalizing carrot they were offered up front.

Fortunately, there is more to this episode than Agent Odell’s elaborate chess game. Khalil Payne (Jordan Calloway) gets some more time to shine and shows off his “bad boy” demeanor and physique. With the noted absence of Commander Williams (Christopher B Duncan), Khalil may be set up to be his replacement or rival in Odell’s inner circle hierarchy.

Meanwhile, Anissa’s shapeshifting enigmatic ex Grace Choi (Chantai Thuy) makes a rather surprising reappearance. With Grace’s powers and ambiguous backstory on the show not correlating to her comic book source material, it is more likely that the writers are drawing from a little-known Milestone comics character named “Masquerade”, who better represents this interpretation. With “her” shapeshifting powers, Grace is quite literally gender-fluid. This comes as an uneasy pill for the very lesbian Anissa to swallow, as Grace does not wholly identify as male or female, or human for that matter. This creates an interesting dilemma for their relationship, in that is their love purely based on (superficial) sexuality or something deeper? It is unknown how far the show will or is willing to explore this very unique development.

Also, Jennifer gets a little more screen time, giving a grand tour of Garfield High to a naive new male student. Given the inordinate amount of time devoted to their interplay, it would not be surprising if this “new student” winds up to be a new love-interest for our very single Jennifer. Then again, I could be reading too much into it.

Another interesting vignette this week is Chief Henderson (Damon Gupton) dealing with the loss of one of his own and the degradation of his community under this police state. While not officially a member of Team Lightning, his side stories remain noteworthy. Henderson struggles with his civic and law-abiding duties as a police officer (and mayoral candidate), and his moral obligation as a goodhearted citizen of Freeland. It is clear which side he will stand on when the line is draw, but he just hasn’t come to that impasse as yet.

I would also be remised if I did not bring up the unveiling of Black Lightning’s new suit, which is certainly more pleasing to the eyes than his overzealous neon cosplay suit in previous seasons. A lot of effort went into this re-design as it is highly detailed and streamlined. I dear say it’s now on par with, or even better than, the costumes of the other CW/DC heroes.

While “Agent Odell’s Pipe-Dream” ends on a positive note, it more so felt like a filler episode, with cobbled loose ends and new threads thrown together, albeit cohesively. And if one thinks hard enough, plot holes start to crop up that ruin the enjoyment of the show.

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