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TV REVIEWS: FTN Reviews Black Lightning Season 4 Episode 7: Painkiller

April 13th, 2021 by Todd Black Comments

One of the biggest blow if you will for Black Lightning Season 4 is a simple fact that this is the final season. For some reason (some say ratings, other say otherwise) they’re ending this groundbreaking show and apparently…a Painkiller spinoff is aiming to take its place. And the backdoor pilot that debuted in “Painkiller” does set the stage for a new spinoff…but one must ask at what cost.

For example, one of the things that made Black Lightning so special was that it was set in smalltown Freeland where the people were being oppressed by the police, the government, gangs and so on. A very believable and understand thing in this and time. But the Painkiller spinoff is apparently going to be set in the Akashic Valley, a brand new place (it’s not even in DC Comics lore) that looks like a mix between Wakanda and Tokyo.

By that I mean that the city is SUPER high-tech from self-driving cars, holograms of singers, cameras that can somehow “scan minds”, devices that can siphon brainpower for criminal reasons and so on. It’s a STARK contrast and it kind of shows a disconnect between the shows in that this one feels like more of an “action movie” than a “family drama”. Perhaps that’s what the CW wanted but that honestly isn’t a good thing because between the heavy use of CGI and other factors it just…doesn’t feel right if that makes sense.

Then there’s Kalil. Who apparently over the course of the last year (in this case the gap between season 3 & 4) found a former ASA “tech savior” and a marine who needed saving and worked together to make a bar of the future as well as “fix Kahlil.” Which sounds nice in practice…but they kind of forced things into a different direction than they were the last time they were here.

For example, Kahlil is now “full monk” if you will and Painkiller is played simply as his “darker side” versus the programmed killer that Odell made. They even try and make you feel sympathy for Painkiller when if you recall he had no problem killing people, including his own mother, and yet somehow he feels remorse now? Why?

How and why are actually two questions I asked a lot during the episode. For example, Kahlil says that Painkiller somehow lured Anissa and Grace to the city…how? And why just Anissa and not the full family of Pierces? Then there’s the “logic chip” that was apparently made to help Kahlil, how does that work exactly? How did that one guy have a camera that could “scan brains”? And on and on it goes.

Finally, the reveal that the mysterious “Maya” was the daughter of Odell was honestly an eye-roller. We knew that Odell was dirty, but now this? That’s just too much.

Could the show work? Sure, in its own way. But based on how they presented everything in this episode, it’s not going to be as emotional or impactful as Black Lightning and that’s sad because the best parts about Black Lightning aren’t the action, it’s the emotion and daring to be socially relevant and talking about real-world issues. It’s going to be hard to do that when you’re in a futuristic city with a genetically created killing machine trying to get his life back. Just saying.

Todd Black is reader of comics, a watch of TV (a LOT of TV), and a writer of many different mediums. He's written teleplays, fan-fictions, and currently writes a comic book called Guardians ( He dreams of working at Nintendo, writing a SHAZAM! TV series, and working on Guardians for a very long time!