Black Lightning: 1:11 Black Jesus: The Book of Crucifixion
This week on Black Lightning, Jefferson gets arrested for possession of Greenlight, Detective Henderson finally gets his hands on a corrupt cop (and gets a promotion in the process) and we go further down the rabbit hole that is the ASA. All of this and yet it still failed to entertain. Undeniably, I enjoyed the episode but it was missing a certain flare; perhaps inside I’m still bitter that the villains aren’t great.
Last episode depicted the discovery that Jefferson’s vice principle, Kara, is the new ASA talent scout. Now that the ASA believes Jefferson is Black Lightning, Kara is ordered to orchestrate his arrest, after he and Thunder destroyed a bunch of ASA anti Black Lightning weaponry while looking for missing kids. Kara instructs corrupt Deputy Chief Cayman to plant Greenlight on Jefferson and arrest him. This takes us to arguably the most interesting, yet disappointing, segment of the episode.
From a dingy, gloomy alleyway, the scene transitions to an upbeat Jefferson greeting the children as they arrive for school (as any good principle should). During a lesson, a student notices a bunch of police come and raid Jefferson’s car, and we see Greenlight planted and discovered shortly after. The atmosphere and tension is automatically raised due to the realism of the scenario. While being escorted out in cuffs, the students form a human wall and refuse to let the police pass, as they just see another honest black man being taken by the police. Jeff implores his students to stay calm and that all will be fine. This, certainly feels dangerous territory, I believe in innocent until proven guilty, but obstructing the law can make matters worse. I appreciate the circumstances and enjoyed the thought it provoked nevertheless. Shortly after his arrest, a TV reel is played showing interviewed members of the community given their two pennies. There was an old white lady who said he should be locked up, and two black people saying he should be released which seemed a bit stereotypical and one sided.
Another interesting story arc that seems to have been forgotten is Jennifer’s control over her new powers. We know she doesn’t want to be a superhero, but understands she must control herself. Aside from Jeff urging his daughter to calm down, so as not to cause a scene during his arrest, Jennifer is a closed door, which is disappointing. Once again we’re baited into a scenario that will either be forgotten or not given the attention it deserves.
At the station, Detective Henderson’s convinced of Jeff’s innocence due to their friendship. He asks Cayman to see the warrant which is obviously legitimate. Knowing that Cayman is corrupt, having previously photographed him during strange arms deals, fuels his desire to free Jeff, so he digs further. While Jeff is processed into the system, the police seem to make it as humiliating as possible, hitting him, cuffing him and doing a full body search. I suppose this is standard procedure but it comes across as sleazy and spiteful. This whole sequence was unnecessary; it goes out of its way to paint everyone (aside from Henderson) with the same brush, forcing the narrative that all black people are just innocent pawns in the corrupt police force.
On the outside, Anissa wants to use force to get her dad out, but Gambi has another idea. Using a self-driving car and a hologram of Black Lightning, they can make the ASA believe that Jeff isn’t Black Lightning, loosening their grip on him. The plan is successful, even convincing Kara, who was shown throughout as having doubts, feeling she knew Jeff well enough to tell if he was Black Lightning (HA!).
Using his detective skills and calling in a number of favours, Henderson finally gets Cayman’s partner dead to rights for bribery and extortion. He admits to planting the evidence which, when mixed with the fact the ASA no longer want him, allows Jeff’s to go free. During his release, Cayman enters to protest. Henderson, using the same force used on Jeff and countless others, slams him against a wall and reads him his rights. This was highly satisfying to see a corrupt police officer go down, but this is just a small victory as there are countless others out there. This arrest gains Henderson a promotion to Deputy Chief and he promises an end to over-policing and corruption. Currently, Henderson is one of the most consistent characters of the show, his on screen presence is great and it’s a shame when he’s missing.
While not the worst episode of the season, it was swamped in politics and was once again all over the place in terms of story. It certainly had its moments, the performances portrayed emotion well and was all very believable. The one main action scene could’ve been refined but, again, it wasn’t terrible. There appears to be no consistency, characters who you once thought played a large role get fizzled out and forgotten, replaced with story that, although fits the continuing plot, seems bizarre and unnecessary. I hope the final two episodes are better.