Black Lightning: 1:05 And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: the Book of Greenlight.
After the last episode’s disappointment I had high expectations coming into this one. Thankfully it didn’t disappoint and although perhaps not back to its best, it definitely brings back the passion that was missing from Black Jesus. Not directly following the events of the previous instalment, this episode focuses its efforts on expanding the superhero lore and filling character development for the main cast. Although interesting due to the amount of information, there were many occasions where the tone suddenly shifted, making the overall outcome somewhat disjointed.
The episode begins with Black Lightning on a roof top attempting to track down the drug Greenlight. Gambi mentions that he’s modified the suit for flight capabilities, to which we witness Black Lightning flying like Iron Man (yep that’s two Marvel References in two weeks). Noticing a kid showing the superhuman strength of Greenlight about to be shot by police, Black Lightning jumps off the roof, protects the kid, uses his powers to immobilize him and shouts at the police, “try using a taser next time”. The overall message of this scene was superb; gun violence is unnecessary and should only be used as a last resort. More importantly this scene brings to light a few questions regarding Jefferson’s powers.What exactly does the suit do? We’ve seen him use his powers without it so its definitely genetic; presumably the suit enhances his powers somehow. The modification gives Jeff a headache throughout the episode, at one point rendering him unconscious.
The plot thickens when Tobias enters Gambi’s shop attempting to determine the identity of Black Lightning. This triggers excitement as it could be where we finally discover what Gambi’s been hiding from Jefferson. Not only does this scene provide us with those answers (turns out they had an agreement of some kind but Tobias doesn’t know he works with Black Lightning), but it injects further development and mystery as Gambi talks about a serum running through Tobias’s veins, presumably giving him some form of power or strength. These two clearly have a past as Tobias seems afraid to kill Gambi, not even threatening him; I look forward to seeing this unfold further.
Speaking of Tobias, we get even more development with him, his sister and his rough upbringing. As he sits brooding in his home, under “ominous lighting” (according to his sister), we see a flashback of Tobias and his sister being abused by their father due to his albinism. This leads to them paying him a visit present day and killing him by breaking his back. I understand the purpose of the scene and appreciate the character development but this episode had far more interesting aspects and focused too heavily on this section.
There was also a fair amount of focus on Jefferson’s girls. Jennifer once again shows her capabilities in defending herself as she fights two girls, breaking one of their wrists. I love her empowerment and at this point hope she just remains a bad-ass and not a future superhero; I feel that would be too much. Anissa on the other hand seems to have a handle on her powers and puts them to good use, tracking down her grandfathers censored work on nine missing teenagers, who demonstrated enhanced abilities many years ago. This sub plot also gifts a retro montage of Anissa creating (buying) her “superhero” costume, which although out of place and a tonal shift, was cheesy and put a smile on my face.
And then the devil brought the plague: the book of green light essentially provides a series of short stories that I assume will be interwoven throughout the remaining season. Rather than continue on the main storyline we get development from all angles, all of which interesting, if somewhat disjointed. The action, dialog and atmosphere were far superior from the previous episode. We even get, for the first time, interaction with Black Lightning and detective Henderson, showing the apparent rough history but respect for one other. This scene also provides some much needed comedy as Black Lightning gives a phone to the detective saying “let’s call it the Black Phone”. Not going to lie, that made me chuckle.
Overall, this episode did a fantastic job of furthering the superhero world and developing characters, while keeping it engaging and entertaining. It’s once again spiked my interest and excitement. I would like to get a little more explanation on Jeff’s powers and how perhaps he acted nine years ago, it’s been teased on several occasions that his powers change his personality, not necessarily for the better (to be fair, we are beginning to witness this). Also, how his suit changes or enhances his abilities; we see him unable to use the suit without some kind of chip, however using it seems to have negative effects on him (headaches). The most nerve raking park is it looks like we’ll be getting a few more “supers” entering the show when we finally discover who these nine teens are/were.