Spoilers for the Feb. 13 episode. Since the show first premiered, Jefferson Pierce has struggled with the decision to re-suit up as Black Lightning or to continue on with his “normal” life as a high school principal. But finally in Episode 5, he seems 100 percent committed to being Black Lightning again. Although, something is threatening his return to superhero status — and this time around it’s not Lynn or Tobias. But what’s wrong with Jefferson on Black Lightning? He's obviously in pain, though the cause isn't clear just yet.
Out of nowhere Jefferson begins to experience random fits of pain and spasms, with or without the suit on. One spasm is so bad that Jefferson appears to pass out mid argument. When he awakes, Gambi has called in Lynn to examine him, though no solution is found. Later Gambi suggests that the condition could be caused by a glitch in the suit, but he’s unable to keep Jefferson out of it. Instead Jefferson threatens to shock Gambi if he’s not given the control piece to the suit in order to go out and confront Tobias’ right-hand man, Joey Toledo.
This exchange between Jefferson and Gambi is just one of the many moments throughout the episode when Jefferson’s typically charismatic, patient, and kind persona is skewed. In addition to the spasms, he becomes quickly agitated each time he’s confronted with a difficult situation or person — so agitated and violent that it’s almost as if he’s doped on Freeland’s infamous street drug Green Light.
Jefferson's attitude and threats toward Gambi don't exactly bode well for the superhero right now, especially when pieces of Tobias' tumultuous childhood start to come to life. As a child Tobias was subjected to years of verbal and emotional abuse by his father simply for being albino.
As the episode progresses and Jefferson becomes angrier, the softer side of Tobias is shown — it's clear his childhood has messed him up pretty badly — quickly blurring the lines between who is good and who is evil on Black Lightning.
If not a malfunction in his suit's armor, Jefferson's spasms could be caused by an increase in stress — sort of how like when there are too many programs running on your computer and its begins to heat up and slow down. Ever since he put the suit back on, Jefferson's been racking his brain day and night to stop the 100 gang and restore order in Freeland. He's also dealing dealing with Lynn's lack of support and his daughters running wild around the city. Maybe the stress has officially gotten to Jefferson and he needs to cool down for a bit.
Another plausible explanation for this condition could be found in the conspiracy video Anissa is watching. Now determined to become a superhero herself, Anissa is doing everything she can to find out more about her sudden super strength. While searching the web for possible explanations she comes across a video that talks about a bizarre occurrence in Freeland 30 years prior.
According to the man speaking, roughly 30 years ago nine kids displayed enhanced abilities and then suddenly disappeared. Then Freeland Gazette editor Davide Poe cancelled a series of articles that would expose the source of those enhanced abilities. And here's where things get interesting: the reporter who wrote those stories was Alvin Oierce — Jefferson's father— who was murdered a week later.
Now given what fans know about Gambi from the comics, he murdered Alvin while working as a hitman for the mob, though it's not explicitly made clear who ordered the hit or why. It's also not made entirely clear that one of the nine kids who disappeared was Jefferson, but given his superhero abilities he more than likely is one of them. So maybe whatever thing produced these electrical abilities in Jefferson is wearing off leading to the spasms and bursts of rage.
We'll just have to wait and see to learn what's really going on with Jefferson But fingers crossed that this is all just a glitch. Otherwise things won't end well for the residents of Freeland or the Pierce family.