Black Lightning: 1:03 Lawanda: The Book of Burial
Black Lightning continues to amaze and outdo itself with its own brand of unique superhero content. Lawanda: Book of Burial proves that not all superhero shows need to be full of fast paced action and superpowers. Providing the characters and story are well developed, it’ll be just as entertaining to watch. This show proves that each person is on their own journey that interlinks with everybody else’s; it’s simply a case of when they collide.
Book of Burial begins at Lawanda’s funeral where Reverend Holt delivers a sermon letting out his frustration in sitting back while the 100 rule their community, murdering innocents and breaking the law without consequence. He urges any “god fearing” citizens to join him in a protest march to show the 100 they will not sit by in silence and that the community cares about one another. Shortly after, Jefferson and detective Henderson attempt to stop the reverend from organising the march for safety reasons. This leads to a very powerful verbal altercation between the detective and reverend about the corruption within the police department, also how the church allows for Holt to wear a $25k watch. This is a great scene with superb dialog, so I’ll leave it there and urge you to watch for yourself.
The episode then moves its focus (only slightly but just enough) onto Tobias Whale. As we know he’s the “leader” of the 100, so far one could assume it ends there, however we discover that he answers to Lady Eve, a feared mobster figure. The best comparison I could think of was Fish Mooney from Gotham. This opens up a whole world of corruption leading us to question who actually sits at the top, does she answer to somebody else?
As stated in the previous episode, Black Lightning is officially back; this time around we get to see more of Jefferson’s mentor and father figure, Peter Gambi. Jefferson explains the situation to Gambi and trains with his new equipment while strategizing their next move in relation to the march, using holographic technology to outline their plan. I’ve no idea why but this section of the episode I had the most trouble with. Perhaps it was all the technical mumbo jumbo, but I struggled to believe Gambi’s position. This could be lack of character knowledge and development or just that he reminds me of my dad when using technology, and he struggles. Unlike Cisco in Flash or Felicity in Arrow, Gambi, currently for me just doesn’t meld in very well.
Throughout, Anissa has been somewhat distant from her family; during the funeral she snuck into a junkyard to test her new superpowers, discovering what it all means. It would appear she has super-strength, kicking a washing machine across the yard with ease as she screeches with excitement. This is a really interesting development, her whole life is changing and she is clearly struggling to deal with the outcomes. She broke up with her girlfriend and is attempting to keep her secrets away from her family, that’s certainly a conversation I look forward to seeing.
Anissa may be stealing some of the limelight, but her sister Jennifer comes in with a whopper. Throughout she and her boyfriend Khalil are organising the loss of their virginities, which she nonchalantly tells her parents about over dinner. As weird, awkward and perhaps unrealistic as this scene was, it’s another moment that illustrates how the show is grounded in reality, providing additional moments for viewers to learn important lessons outside of “with great power comes great responsibilities”
The last 20 minutes or so is the cliché superhero “pow pow” moments (for the record done very well). Tobias has organised someone to replace Lala but in order to gain the position the newcomer must kill the reverend during the march to send a message. Before he can carry out the plan, Black lightning steps in to protect the protesters that include his girls and ex-wife. After the gunman flees the scene, the protestors all start singing Amazing Grace to Black Lightning, during the distraction Tobias and his Henchman pull up in a car and shoot the reverend. The bullet however went through and also hit Khalil, who may not walk again because of it.
Although the character of Gambi is somewhat disappointing, if nothing else there’s one sequence that develops him well. His decision to erase Tobias’s image from the shooting is interesting and makes me wonder why, with so many possibilities, is he protecting his friend, by avoiding a rampage? Or is he working for the enemy?
Three episodes in and Black Lightning continues to amaze, developing and introducing characters while providing interesting story. Lady Eve specifically, while only briefly seen, seems like a perfect villain. She has an ominous, calm presence about her (as most villains do) whose motivations stem from money and fear, stating “as long as the police are unable to effectively protect the people and businesses of Freeland we can make protection money”. I believe Black Lightning’s appeal lies in its realism (of course adjusting for the superhero element), it shows the darker side of heroism and tackles issues rarely seen in this genre, or at least done this effectively. Relatable to perhaps a wider audience, this show continues to grow in popularity and certainly my anticipation is forever growing.