DISCLAIMER: Only read this if you have seen the backdoor pilot to Painkiller as this article includes spoilers from Black Lightning Season 4, Episode 7.
The backdoor pilot for Painkiller, the potential Black Lightning spinoff series, brought a big familiar surprise at the very end. While Khalil and Painkiller have left Freeland, that doesn’t mean that his past is done with Calloway’s characters. In the backdoor pilot’s final scene, Sibongile Mlambo’s mysterious Maya gets revealed to be related to a very recognizable Black Lightning character.
Maya makes a call to someone only referred to as “Him,” and on the other line is Agent Odell! But this is where the twist comes into play as it gets established that Maya is, in fact, Odell’s daughter. Not only is she the primary villain for the possible spinoff, but Maya serves as a connection to Khalil and Painkiller’s nemesis after the events in Black Lightning season 3.
When DC TV Podcasts hosts Andy Behbakht and Nate Milton chatted with Calloway, this part had to get saved till after the episode’s airing. When Calloway got asked about Odell’s (or maybe more specifically the Odell family!) potential role in Painkiller and whether or not they’ll serve as the spinoff’s own Tobias Whale.
“You know, you could say that. You definitely could say that. But I mean, Brother Marvin [who plays Tobias Whale], who’s gonna do it better? [Laughs] You can’t, I mean, it’s Bill Duke and Marv. I mean, come on the two of them are great. I personally think that maybe for Painkiller, Odell is his Tobias Whale. But I would, I would die on this hill and say that for Khalil, Tobias is his Tobias. Tobias Whale is the one that influenced him, Tobias Whale is the one that got his claws in Khalil in the first place that took advantage of a kid that was vulnerable. A kid that lost everything, a kid that was on the right path, and Tobias saw an opportunity to get at Jefferson Pierce, and utilize him. He was a tool and Khalil didn’t realize that until after. So when we get to that and sadly, it was too late. Now you can apply that to a lot of kids, not just black kids, not just even in just boys, you know, to girls as well. You can apply that to the modern world where a lot of individuals are being manipulated and get manipulated without them even knowing until it’s too late. And for Khalil’s case, it was boom, his spine was ripped out and he was left on the street. He was reminded like ‘Oh, this is what I think of you’ by Tobias.
So that’s why I say Tobias is definitely the Tobias Whale to Khalil whereas Odell, he is that Tobias to Painkiller because he is just a soldier. And now in his infancy, Painkiller is finally having this freedom now, where he’s realizing he has a choice. But as a soldier coming back from war, all he’s known is war. All he knows is his profession. So he’s going on his own journey with the help of Khalil to figure out, ‘I have more to offer.’ And when we apply that to reality, how many of these kids that are being pulled out of gangs, being pulled out of drugs? Whatever it is, you can name it. A lot of these kids are now just finding their stride and seeing ‘Oh, I have more to offer than what somebody put on me.'”
“PAINKILLER – Khalil Payne (Jordan Calloway) is a young man ridden with the guilt of his troubled past from his former life in Freeland City, where, as a super-enhanced killing machine known as Painkiller, he was both a member of Tobias Whale’s gang and a weapon of Agent Odell and the shadowy ASA. After attempting to bury the darker, devastatingly lethal Painkiller part of his persona, Khalil has distanced himself away from everyone he knows and loves in a new city, Akashic Valley, in order to find peace… but peace never comes easy for men with pasts like Khalil Payne and Painkiller. As his violent, destructive history crashes his idyllic new beginning, Khalil is thrusted back into action with a new mission – bring justice where he once gave out punishment – but to do that, he will first have to deal with and harness his darker side, Painkiller. The episode was written and directed by Salim Akil.”