With Black Lightning coming to a close, The CW has shut the book on one great story. But Khalil Payne / Painkiller (Jordan Calloway) has further to go in his journey, with or without Black Lightning. From anti-hero to villain to anti-hero again, Khalil has been through a lot. And in the Black Lightning series finale ‘The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two: Closure’, Painkiller takes an important step forward, setting up a possible spinoff.
**SPOILERS for Black Lightning Season 4 Episode 13 ‘The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two: Closure’**
Leading up to the finale, there was some doubt about whether it would be Khalil or Jefferson Pierce / Black Lightning (Cress Williams) who would finally take out Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III). As it turns out, that honor went to Jefferson, which is understandable since this is his story after all.
But Khalil makes an important decision that will change his life forever. TC (Christopher Ammanuel) goes into Khalil / Painkiller’s mind and offers them a choice: TC can remove the kill order that’s been pushing Painkiller to kill the Pierces but it would mean that Khalil would lose his memories of the family.
It’s a terrible choice but in the end, Khalil chooses to forget Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain), the woman he loves, so that he can keep her and her family safe from Painkiller. And so, as Black Lightning ends his story with the series finale, Painkiller begins a new one.
Painkiller Spinoff Show
The CW had previously announced that a Painkiller spinoff show was in the works and dropped a backdoor pilot in Black Lightning Season 4 Episode 7. Unfortunately, the network has since passed on the project. That said, The Hollywood Reporter writes that the show is being shopped around and notes that it may end up on HBO Max. That would be welcome news for fans as Painkiller has further to go than the Black Lightning finale.
“This project has been nothing less than a blessing,” Calloway said. “I can’t put into words how grateful I am from the experiences that I’ve learned from, the relationships that I’ve made. It has been a blast. It has been phenomenal. So, as we lay this character to rest and we move on to the next chapter, I just wanted to say thank you guys, you are amazing.”
Why Khalil / Painkiller Deserves More
Right from the beginning of the series, Khalil has been one of the most layered characters on the show. He is equal parts deadly and kind, something that becomes more sharply defined after he develops the split personality of Painkiller.
While shows like Superman & Lois continue the grander super-heroics, the Painkiller spinoff could have added an interesting perspective to The CW’s slate of Arrowverse shows. Showrunner Salim Akil has also described the character as being a representation of the “duality” that many African-American men experience.
He recently spoke with ComicBook, saying the following:
Well, with Khalil, I think I take myself a little bit too seriously, but what I’m trying to explore is the duality of a lot of African-American men. And I mean, W.E.B. Du Bois talked about it. In one regard, you want to be the American dream. You want to be that participant in American culture, but at the same time, you’re always seen as the other. Within yourself, what you’re trying to do is become whole. You’re trying to become a whole person, and there’s always something that separates you from the whole. There’s always a reminder of what separates you from the, be it police brutality, the lack of jobs, lack of concern about the violence in your community.”
He continued with the following:
So the idea behind him becoming a sort of a mirror image or the bad side, Painkiller being the bad side of him, it was just this idea that I just talked about with Lala, is that you have a lot of young men out there who are trying to become whole, and there are so many. A lot of young African American men, Latin men, Asian men, any other gay men who are trying to become whole. And I’m specifically talking about men only because we were talking about Khalil and Painkiller. That they’re always reminded that they’re the other.”
That metaphorical depth would be enough to prove that the character is one we ought to see more of. But he’s also so very cool!
Painkiller is a master assassin, a perfect killing machine. And tempered by Khalil’s more kindly aspects, the composite character could be a very interesting force for good. If the spinoff had been picked up by The CW, it would have followed Khalil as he moved to a new city, Akashic Valley, to bury Painkiller once and for all and find some peace. But of course, he wouldn’t really get the chance as his past comes back to destroy his future.
Getting released by HBO Max could be just what the show needs to fully shine. After all, that would give the creators more allowances for darker storylines and some intense action. Plus, the service is already home to quite a few DC projects so the show would fit right in.
Whether the spinoff takes off or not, Painkiller has more stories to go through even after the Black Lightning finale. On his own show or as a new addition to one of the existing Arrowverse shows (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, perhaps?), Khalil deserves a chance to complete his new journey.
What do you think of the Black Lightning series finale? Do you think The CW should have picked up Painkiller or would you prefer an HBO Max release for the series? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Black Lightning Season 4 Episode 13 ‘The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two: Closure’ premiered on May 24 on The CW.