Black Lightning: 1:12 The Resurrection and the Light: The Book of Pain
For several episodes now, my main complaint has been the lack of convincing villains and dedication to story-lines. The penultimate episode is practically villain central and is actually quite enjoyable. Tobias finally returns alongside Khalil; they’re working with the ASA and, towards the end, there’s further depth on Lala. Garfield High once again plays a pivotal role for Jefferson as last episode saw him arrested there, and this instalment sees him die there.
Tobias’s return, although sudden, was hugely welcome and exciting; it felt as though he never left, which is a testament to the presence Marvin Jones III brings to the character. Like De Niro or Joe Pesci, he was born to play a bad guy. In terms of returns, Khalil certainly takes the spotlight, showing not only can be walk again, but he has a new look and attitude about him. His look is excellent, reminiscent of Eddy Gordo from Tekken. His character’s conflicting personalities were executed brilliantly, portraying his old law abiding, respectful self with a beaten down teen now loyal to Tobias. Again, both of these characters have been away far too long, but I greatly enjoyed their return and it gives me high hopes for the finale.
Jeff and Lynn rekindling their relationship was an inevitable development. Annoyingly, the scene transitions before and after were very jarring. This episode begins with Tobias killing one of his henchman, immediately followed by Lynn in a silk dress seducing Jefferson, and then onto something far more serious. I don’t hate the development but wow, these scenes need to be placed better.
Alongside returning villains, Jennifer also takes centre stage, not just because her ex-boyfriend is back in town, but the developments around her powers. Since the discovery, conversations have been horrible; I still believe this whole arc should’ve been left to another season. Jeff and Lynn continue to argue about what‘s best for their daughter; Lynn is looking into the Meta gene in hopes of supressing it, as requested by Jennifer, and Jeff disagrees, stating “it’s who she is”. This felt very contrived and didn’t match the loving parent persona that’s been played throughout this series. Surely you want whatever your children want, providing they have all the information to make an informed decision.
Something that’s been heavily elevated here is the action, which from episode one has been a bit hit and miss for me. Here we get, in my opinion, the best action scenes thus far. Anissa’s classroom fight with Tobias’s right hand woman Syonide was unexpectedly superb, brutal and fluent. The best non Meta opponents are the ones who can find weaknesses in their enemy during a fight; Syonide does just that, quickly realising that Anissa needs to hold her breath in order to use her powers. This allows you to feel like your heroes are genuinely in danger, elevating the stakes, which was done very well in this instance.
Black Lightning and Tobias also have a one on one that’s just as exciting, and something I’ve been anticipating for a while. In that respect it was a little anti-climactic, but enjoyable nevertheless. This scene is both powerful and emotional, as Tobias orders a supercharged Khalil to kill Black Lightning, which he does. The emotion and confliction on Khalil’s face is perfect and feels genuine. I feel as a penultimate episode, it would have worked better to leave Black Lightning dead on the floor until the finale. Ok, it would be pretty obvious that he would survive but it leaves an air of mystery as to how the show proceeds. Instead, Jennifer discovers she can be a human defibrillator and brings her father back, adding more depth to her abilities and character, as it’s what she wants to get rid of that saves her father. It nicely gets you thinking.
Ending with more information about Lala seemed like such a pointless move. I have been vocal about my lack of enthusiasm for Lala and this was the final straw. We’re ultimately left with a critical Black Lightning, a scared Pierce family and a villain that feels highly powerful and menacing. Up until this point, the finale in my head is just going to be fantastic. Then Tobias, confronted by a gun wielding Lala, utters the words “the devil deals the cards”, which acts as a mind control phrase (similar to Bucky in The Winter Soldier). I hated this development and it just leaves more that needs explanation.
Heading into the finale, Black Lightning has once again engaged my interest even though it has a lot of storylines and loose ends to tie up. Regardless of any issues I may have, if the excitement and action remain at these levels, then I’ve no doubt we will see an explosive finish.