Black Lightning: 1:13 Shadow of Death – The Book of War
Well, that was different! Aside from a few annoyances and nit-picks, I actually enjoyed this episode. The trouble was, it didn’t feel like the season finale; instead it felt like the halfway point of the season. Generally, a finale has a shocking moment at the end that tests your emotions, a death or major plot development. Everything here was left feeling hunky dory which was a bit bizarre. At least there’s plenty of story that comes together nicely, as we learn more about Jefferson’s childhood and relationship with his deceased father, as well as more about Tobias and the ASA.
Last episode ended with Jefferson unconscious and near death which meant the first half was without the main protagonist. The space was filled with flashbacks of Jefferson’s past, his upbringing and the discovery of his powers. These scenes were powerful, emotional and informative, although I don’t think the whole black and white setting made much difference to me. The unconscious Jefferson finally gets a chance to speak with his father. The interaction was electric; Jeff asking if his father’s life sacrifice was worth it, and subsequently if his sacrifices are just as worth it too. It was the calmest, most exciting and respectful argument I’ve ever seen.
Hilariously, Jeff awakens, pumped and ready to go, only to find his powers stripped away. As silly as it would’ve been to continue the episode without a super-powered Jeff, I feel it could’ve delivered some much needed characterisation and growth. He would have to rely on his family and friends for help, potentially rallying together the community that he so cares about, and that the show places at the forefront. Rather than being purely about the Pierce family, Black Lightning could’ve been the embodiment of togetherness and unity. Instead, the girl who didn’t want her powers jumpstarts her father’s abilities; I didn't hate it but I would’ve like to have seen both arcs given individual attention, rather than shoehorn them into an already busy finale.
This resulted in another high-stakes action sequence, involving possibly the most useless Navy Seals in the world. Once again, I take issue with the music, the second the fight begins, the background noise is turned practically to zero and replaced by music; that made the scene feel more comedic in tone when it really shouldn’t have been. Otherwise, the action was fine, and even captured Lynn getting a chance to protect her family. On a side note- just because somebody can cock a gun, doesn’t mean others should assume you know how to use it; I hate that cliché so much.
The extremely small amount of time we get with Tobias and crew was excellent. He continues to be my favourite character, and honestly, I would love to see a Sopranos-like mini-series with Tobias and crew. His arc progresses further, but because he thinks Black Lightning is dead; the villain role is instead handed over to Martin Proctor of the ASA. This character just isn’t that great; he’s not menacing and the time spent with him serves only to force the narrative that he is based on Donald Trump, shouting the slogan, “Make America Great Again” on several occasions. Gambi shoots him as it is explained that this was all a rogue operation that the ASA are unaware of. This just seemed stupid, why bother setting up an ominous organisation just to throw it away *cough* Shadow Board *cough*.
Lala’s development, surprisingly, continues to baffle me; Tobias spent “a cool mil” re-animating him, as far as I can tell to have an indestructible suicide bomber, but why? Does it really matter? *groan*. I guess this is just another thing set-up for the next season.
Speaking of Season two, there’s a lot set-up for that very event. To start with, the four stable, kidnapped subjects Proctor alludes to could shake things up nicely, setting up potential foes or allies. Additionally, Tobias gets his hands on a briefcase supposedly filled with Greenlight, for even more potential shenanigans. I would like to think that the aforementioned Shadow Board plays a more significant role in Season two, possibly bringing back the conversation at least surrounding Lady Eve’s murder.
As I mentioned above, the biggest issue I have with the finale is that it doesn’t feel like an ending; it doesn’t even have a decent cliff-hanger that’ll keep you excited. It abruptly closes and makes me believe that there will be another episode next week. There is no consistent villain, making the final standoff extremely lacklustre. Although there’s a lot I would change, there’s still plenty of excellent story and character development over the course of the entire season, all aspects progressing nicely throughout. Now the introductions are well and truly over, season two will hopefully offer more. Either way, well done to everybody who worked on Black Lightning and here’s to the next season.