Black Lightning: 2.10 Chapter Three - Angelitos Negros
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Black Lightning returns after its mid-season break with a rather sketchy episode. While there were some interesting and exciting elements, the overall writing was somewhat lazy, lacking logic and a consistent pace. Before the break, the focus surrounded Khalil and Jennifer running away from home and Tobias respectively. Reflecting on my previous review (here) this was an already exhausted story-arc that thankfully has now come to an end…after three chapters!
For the first half of this episode, the emphasis remained on the running away, which is where the majority of issues lie. Inconsistencies and conveniences were prevalent from the get-go, with Khalil suddenly realising he has a place hidden away from Tobias in an abandoned train car. Okay, granted it actually looked pretty cool, and the two of them being able to relax opened the opportunity for a heart to heart which was nice, but why on earth wasn’t this mentioned sooner?
Montaged sequences of Black Lightning, Thunder, Gambi and Lynn (who does more than mope about thankfully), searching suspected areas Jen and Khalil might be, were simply laughable. Running into abandoned buildings and darkened alleyways shouting “Jen are you here”, was incredibly lazy. Black Lightning can see through walls but shouting for his daughter, who clearly doesn’t want to return home, was silly.
Possibly the best performance was from Lynn, whose heartfelt plea for her daughter to come home was fuelled by passion and emotion; it’s just a shame that it wasn’t in a better situation. Shouting randomly while doing little psychical searching came across severely unrealistic. If you think your child is missing or in potential danger, surely no stone would go unturned. Lynn, it appears, runs into a location, gives a dramatic speech and hopes for the best. Really!
Khalil and Jennifer’s chemistry continues to evolve and it’s one of only a few elements keeping this show remotely watchable. Their adolescent behaviour is frustrating , instead deciding that now would be a good time to go home, they’re speaking of leaving the country without talk of money, passports etc. It has to be said that they are still teenagers who have little actual life experience, so I suppose that their actions are a reflection on themselves and the terrifying situation. Kudos there then.
This episode was missing action; there were plenty of occasions that would’ve been elevated by a well executed fight scene but all were, for whatever reason, squandered. Most notably was when Khalil is taken from the police van by Cutter. Not only was there opportunity for seeing her take down security guards, but it had perfect potential for a rematch between her and Thunder… but alas, no. Hopefully another time.
The writing this episode is rage-inducing. The lack of thought and logic from someone who we’re lead to believe is an intelligent man (Jefferson), is just lazy. He consistently makes poor and careless decisions that have clearly had little thought put into them. Khalil and Jennifer’s decision to return home was both brave and dangerous, but a natural progression nevertheless. Jefferson’s decision to hand Khalil over to the authorities, while understandable, wanting him to answer for his crimes, was dumb! Surely at the very least have Gambi lock him away safely, but to give him to the police, who you know are corrupt, shows a lapse in character.
Tobias once again is the saving grace for this episode, bringing presence and gravitas to an otherwise lifeless encounter. There’s certainly an argument that his actions crossed the line a tad with Khalil, but I say it was the perfect shock. Ripping out his mechanical spine, actually graphically depicting it, was akin to the Game of Thrones episode The Mountain and the Viper, although Khalil surviving seemed a bit farfetched. It’s almost as if two people are directing each episode, one the superhero stuff, the other the villain.
Chapter Three: Angelitos Negros should’ve been the mid-season finale episode. As flawed as it was, now the running away scenario has been dealt with, moving forward seems ever more promising. There’s plenty of story to play with but, as history suggests, Black Lightning often struggles to capitalise on the positives. It actually helps to not think about passed, forgotten story-arcs. Either way this felt like a small step in the right direction.