Black Lightning: 1:04 Black Jesus
With regards to my excitement and progression thus far, I always knew of the inevitability in which an episode would be less than fantastic. Unfortunately, Black Jesus was that episode; it massively slowed the pace as it attempted to generate emotional conflict and deeper story. Instead, it generated boredom with an eagerness for something exciting or shocking to happen that just wasn’t delivered on. Whether it’s the blame of the direction, writing or performances I found this to be very unfulfilling in both action and story
Black Jesus begins by introducing a new drug, Greenlight, that’s been working its way through the streets and now into Garfield High. When one of Jefferson’s students, Bernard, takes it at school he begins to show symptoms that can only be described as Hulking out (I know, a Marvel reference in a DC show…so sue me). This forces Jefferson to use his powers as his only means to stop him.
This episode illustrates collateral damage, as Jefferson has stated on many occasions how he’s struggles with the issues caused by Black Lightning’s presence, such as the death of reverend Holt and paralysed state of Khalil. This is again demonstrated as Anissa begins to realise she could have a major impact on her town when she decides to stand up to a couple of drug dealers selling Greenlight by using her newfound powers. The only problem, in her inexperience she’s unaware of her potential and how to control her powers. She knocks the dealers out but calls an ambulance as they seem seriously hurt, which clearly bothers her.
During a dinner with Jefferson, Lyn, Detective Henderson, his wife and Anissa, the conversation of Black Lightning comes up. The detective sees him as a vigilante who should remain in the shadows and allow the police to do their jobs. Anissa believes that he’s doing a good job, while Lyn addresses his potential family. This conversation was interesting but fell flat; Black Lightning has only saved two girls (his own), apprehended Lala and stopped a gunman. Ok, this is far more than I’ll ever do in my lifetime but for a superhero seems miniscule.
Lady Eve returns to speak with Tobias, letting him know her frustration for his apparent lies (he said he killed Black Lightning) and how Black Lightning’s return has made her question his ability to lead the 100. This sequence was a mixed bag; on the one hand we learn that she may not be top dog as she speaks of her partner’s unhappiness. However during this deep chat she was performing liposuction on a conscious patient. Not only was this frustratingly clichéd but her presence, and threats unlike the previous episode, weren’t ominous or fearful.
Regardless of how it looked, Tobias clearly felt threatened as he brings in his sister Tori to devise a plan to get the people of Freeland to kill Black Lightning. They start with Khalil, who currently resides in hospital unable to walk. Tobias manipulates him to believe Black Lightning’s the cause of his ailment in the hope that he will rally the rest of the town, whose attention’s currently on him. This was yet another villainous scene that’s simply over the top and out of place.
The attention’s then brought to Jennifer who’s clearly struggling with her boyfriend being in hospital, while facing other life issues. She decides to quit track in order to spend more time with Khalil, which is clearly a cry for help that’s ignored by her overbearing parents. I guess the moral of this subplot was to illustrate how, like her father and sister, she cannot alleviate somebody else’s pain.
Now back to the issue at hand, the Greenlight drug epidemic. With the help of Gambi, Jefferson manages to track down other dealers and a potential manufacturing plant set to deliver a shipment. During Black lightning’s surveillance he hears loud explosions (we know them to be Anissa using her powers to take down more thugs) which he decides to investigate rather than remain with his current mission. When he arrives he sees only destruction. Gambi hacks into the security cameras and tells Jefferson there’s nothing to see and to return to his mission. What he failed to mention was that there was someone in the footage. It’s unclear whether he knows or suspects it to be Anissa but it’s yet another occasion he’s been deceitful to his supposed friend.
From episode one I have loved how this show tackles real life problems within a superhero show. However, the general concept is becoming boring and novelty. I’m all for addressing major issues providing they interlink with the main theme of the show. Black Jesus goes a tad too far, with one of the side stories being about Jefferson allowing Bernard to remain in school, when the school board wants to expel him for his actions. There’s then a power struggle as the board believes he is too soft. Ok this is real life, but wow was it dull; it’s irrelevant to the overall plot and taking up time that could better be used elsewhere.
Overall I just didn’t enjoy this episode; it felt like nobody cared, the action was below par with the choreography uninventive and lacklustre. Rather than addressing and giving due care and attention to previous unresolved and highly anticipated story elements, Black Jesus simply creates dozens more, several of which extend the runtime but decrease enjoyment. There’s plenty still to anticipate, let’s hope this was just a bump in the road as all shows have at some time or another.