Black Lightning's third season is officially in full swing, and it's established a pretty significant foe for the Pierce family and Freeland as a whole. In addition to the ever-growing threat from Markovia, Agent Odell (Bill Duke) clearly has more sinister plans than audiences had initially expected -- and that took a tragic and surprising turn in this week's installment, with the return of one fan-favorite character. Obviously, spoilers for this week's episode of Black Lightning, "The Book of Occupation: Chapter Two" below! Only look if you want to know!
The episode dove more into the goings-on of Odell and the ASA, as they continued to groom and inspect the various metahumans they had in custody. This culminated in the "activation" of Khalil Payne (Jordan Calloway), who had been put into a pod and reconditioned following his gruesome death by Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III). Odell and Agent Williams (Christopher B. Duncan) discussed Khalil's new prime directive, which was to eliminate his own mother. Williams questioned if that was the right call, as reuniting with someone so close to him would theoretically break his conditioning.
Later on in the episode, Khalil returned to his mother's apartment, where she quickly embraced him. He claimed that he didn't know who she was, before quickly infecting her with poison and killing her instantly.
Granted, the fact that Khalil is alive was hinted at in Black Lightning's Season 2 finale, when it was revealed that he was hiding in one of Odell's pods. But the when and where surrounding his potential return remained a bit of a mystery up to this point. The fact that he's returned as Odell's pawn certainly has some interesting and heartbreaking connotations surrounding it, considering the fact that he was similarly under the thumb of Tobias (albeit, not in this extreme Manchurian Candidate sort of way) earlier on in the show's run.
There's also the nature of Khalil's relationship with Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain), as the pair were essentially star-crossed metahuman lovers prior to his death.
"You have Jennifer where she's just trying to figure herself out," Calloway told ComicBook.com in an interview last year. "Both of them are starting with identity crisis. They're high schoolers. They going through the teen angst. Except now you're going to go ahead and throw in special abilities into that. That's a whole nother world."
"Here you have Jennifer where she doesn't even understand her powers," Calloway continued. "She doesn't even understand what she's capable of. She just sees the reaction of that, which is destruction which hurts people. Whereas with Khalil, he's realizing these special abilities, where he's reacting with rage and it's also damaged other people. But he's also realizing the situation, his surroundings, with Tobias as well. Where it's like, "Crap now I gotta be careful because I don't want to be anyone else into that."
What do you think of the way Khalil returned on Black Lightning? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Black Lightning airs Mondays at 9/8c on The CW.