Black Lightning returns for its third season tonight on The CW and the last time we saw the Pierce family they had just seen their world rocked when Agent Odell drafted them into the coming war with Markovia. Tonight, we catch up with the family a bit of time later and discover a very different Freeland -- and new heroes rising to help it. Full spoilers for "The Book of Occupation: Chapter One: The Birth of Blackbird" below.
The episode opens with a young Muslim woman in some sort of facility where she's asked her name, date of birth, and her "enhancement". She's being detained, denies having used Greenlight, and talks about how she was harassed for being Muslim -- and kids at her school put Greenlight in her food which resulted in her being put in a pod. Another young person, a man named Devonte Jones, is also interviewed in this facility. He claims to have no "enhancements". Then we get to Jefferson Pierce.
A bit of a montage shows that Jefferson is asked the questions over and over and that whatever is going on here, he's being held for a month -- 31 days -- before he is "emancipated". A news report reveals that Freeland has been quarantined by the federal government and that children suspected of having metahuman powers are being separated from their families until they can be cleared. People blame Black Lightning or think he's dead, but someone named Blackbird appears to have taken his place.
Anissa and some others are touring the facility where the kids are in literal cages when a metahuman whose face is obscured appears and makes quick work of the guards. His name is Ned Creegan and he calls himself Cyclotronic and then some soldiers show up. They fight, with the military commander, Carson Williams ultimately killing Ned then reports into Agent Odell who orders Freeland on lockdown with a curfew. At school. Jennifer struggles to control her powers. At the police station, the military commander tries to order Henderson to have a news conference and threatens to ruin his life if he refuses. He strikes back and is then forced into complying when the commander holds a gun to his head.
At the facility, Jefferson and Lynn are reunited but Agent Odell interrupts and says because of the Markovian attack at the detention facility, they can't leave after all, but Jefferson can take off his power dampening collar. Back in Freeland, the news conference happens. Jennifer and Anissa are driving and call Gambi to talk about what Anissa saw. Gambi is looking for weaknesses in the ASA perimeter around Freeland to get people out.
At her apartment, Anissa with the help of her high tech A.I. "Shonda" goes into a secret room to talk to Gambi with news that her parents aren't getting out. Gambi and Jennifer are trying to destabilize the ASA. Turns out Commander Williams is a meta who can mimic powers but needs a serum to stay healthy. Cyclotronic, however, may not have been Markovian as Williams claimed. He was at one time part of Williams' program. Gambi tells her about a bus of meta kids incoming and she suits up -- as Blackbird -- and goes to save them. Reverend Holt appears to be helping her protect the kids like a variation on the Underground Railroad.
In a warehouse, a young woman with electric powers similar to Jennifer's has fun playing with her skills. Back at the ASA facility, Lynn and Jefferson talk and Jefferson discovers Issa hidden deep within the facility. At Gambi's, there are reports of someone being eaten by a leopard, but it turns out it's a shapeshifter -- it's Grace. At a bar, reporter Jamila Olsen approaches Anissa to ask questions about the detention center. They hook up.
At the ASA facility, Jefferson also discovers Tobias deep in the facility and he's greatly aged. It turns out Jefferson has new powers that lets him use his powers without the Black Lightning suit. Out in Freeland, the girl from the warehouse is approached by a guy. She says her name is Jennifer and it turns out it is actually Jennifer wearing some sort of cloaking device that obscures her appearance. Jennifer explains to Anissa that she has to find ways to use her powers or else it hurts.
Deep in the facility, Issa talks with Tobias. Odell is using him to question Tobias as Issa's power is getting people to tell the truth. Odell wants to know what's in the briefcase from last season and where it is. Tobias reveals that Proctor wasn't a rogue agent. He was working for Odell, who takes orders from the president. Odell's orders are to obtain all metas, turn them into weapons, and cover their tracks. Odell poisons Issa. Lynn questions Odell about Issa, he lies and claims the Markovians hurt him. It looks like the Markovian threat is itself entirely a ruse for Odell’s real mission. Issa dies.
At the perimeter breach, Anissa as Blackbird gets a bunch of people out before they are ambushed, and Anissa ends up blown through the hole by one of the soldiers. Gambi and Jennifer vow to figure out how to save her. In a hotel somewhere in Freeland, Lala wakes up.
Black Lightning airs Mondays at 9/8c on The CW.