Black Lightning: 2.15 The Book of Apocalypse: Chapter One - The Alpha

Season two of Black Lightning has been largely inconsistent. Story arcs such as Principle Lowry’s takeover, the Greenlight babies, and Perenna have either been side-lined or rarely mentioned. Others such as the Sange/Perdi, and Anissa’s Robin Hood antics, only served to dampen the flow and take away screen-time from more interesting plot points. The Alpha showed what the show is capable of when everything lines up; no one feels segregated and the story is much more entertaining. It’s such a shame they only produced it at the penultimate episode.

The most memorable element to come from this episode was the Pierce’s bonding over the ethics of being a superhero, as Jefferson lays down three rules: no telling, no going it alone and no killing. The back and forth between the whole family, with discussions taking place throughout the entire episode, was excellent and amplified the connection Jefferson has with his daughters. What made this extra special was the counter arguments, exploring different angles, like Anissa saying, “I’m a grown ass woman” and Jefferson’s response, “I can’t stop you going around in a hoodie but I can in a super powered suit acting like a hero”. This was some of the best writing this season.

Speaking of, there was a significant improvement in all of the writing in this episode, focusing on situations in more detail, giving it a more cohesive feel. The whole Lala segment for example, was better expanded on, giving us more of an understanding of the why, and who keeps bringing him back to life. Additionally, while Anissa’s search for Grace served as one of the more disappointing arcs this episode – which had nothing to do with the writing – logic prevailed, with Anissa finally realising the Asian man she fought was in fact a metamorphosed Grace.

Lynn has been a character I’ve failed to connect with in the past due to silly choices and poor character development. While she only had a small role in this episode, it was impactful, protecting “Windy” Wendy from Agent Odell as if she were her own daughter. It was nice to see her finally bring her experience of having a family of Meta’s into her work. It would be interesting if Black Lightning delved more into the horror and loneliness of not only being in a coma for 30 years, but also having powers. It was slightly touched on but they could’ve done more.

Thankfully Tobias has a more prominent role in this episode, continuing to show the impact he has and the gravitas he brings in such a small amount of time. It’s refreshing to finally witness his plans unfolding. For too long they were a frustrating mystery, and luckily the payoff was worth the wait. His actions to gather interest in his Meta humans fit his character beautifully. His chemistry with Cutter and Dr Jace was excellent as was their dialogue. It was also a nice change of pace to see his frustration elevatled at always losing to Black Lightning rather than some silly drug deal gone wrong.

Given that this is a two-parter, it’s no surprise that elements such as Odell spying on the Pierce family, and Jennifer’s unsuccessful run-in with Tobias, were left hanging until the finale next week. While I understand Jennifer’s decisions and desire to kill Tobias, I can’t wrap my head around the amount of trust she gets, given her understandable mental state. Why would Gambi and Jefferson leave her alone with access to her unfinished suit, telling her that Tobias is at it again, and not expect her to do something reckless?

Considering what has been produced the past few episodes, The Alpha was a significant improvement; it was focused and felt part of a season rather than singular standalone instalment. The finale next week should be the culmination of major plot threads, and while the writing and overall execution was better here, there is still a lot to wrap up in 45 minutes. Hopefully Black Lightning can end on a high and tease a decent season three.

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