Black Lightning: 2.02: The Book of Consequences - Chapter Two: Black Jesus Blues
The previous episode of Black Lightning was very hit and miss, failing to both open strong and generate buzz for the coming season. Episode two thankfully better: it wasn't perfect and there was still much to criticise, there was still a lot of positive movements in both character and story. There is yet to be a clear understanding of where this season is heading, but it’s moving forward, even though at a slower pace than it perhaps should be.
Much like episode one, the story here is told in segments, which can become disjointing after a while. Additionally there’s little consistency in tone, music and the message it wants to get across. Struggling to keep focus on one area means that your mind may struggle to process the onslaught of random information thrown at you. It’s a shame because the segments individually show so much promise, but stitched together in one episode just didn’t work.
The episode opened with a an outstanding scene, where Tobias and Khalil played chess, discussing the death of Syonide. It generated a great deal of atmosphere and tension, once again proving why Tobias should stick around as the antagonist. His additional screen time this episode gave him the opportunity to continue his villainous behaviour, killing past acquaintances to tie loose ends with regards to the death of Jefferson’s father. I thought this story was wrapped up enough last season but this leaves me intrigued regardless.
The very next scene shows two of the pods holding Greenlight children open. Why? How? Who knows, but if this scene didn’t get your detective, theorising brain a-pumping then I doubt little will. It’s clear when the pods open, the subjects have little or no control over their powers, shown when one of them kills both himself and a guard accidentally (side note, the effects were fantastic); the other escapes using her wind powers (there's no better way to describe it!). The whole scenario was a breath of fresh air to an otherwise dull story. Although not much is delved into this time around, its again something intriguing that lures you in.
From here on out the episode is simply an amalgamation of random scenes. They follow the same narrative of relationships and hardships but it doesn’t serve the overall story very well, and even when it attempts to they're simply bizarre.
Firstly, the boy who was killed by the police but came back to life last episode is put in the hands of Lynn. She determines that he has the Meta gene and her first thought (bearing in mind she is a scientist and wife to a secretive lightning wielding superhero) is to take him home to her family for dinner. She knows nothing about this boy and is perfectly willing to put her family in potential danger; the scene is bizarre and serves only to let the audience know he has the power to get people to speak the truth, which frankly just raises more questions. Additionally, we see Anissa getting a new girlfriend; Jennifer speaks with her old flame Khalil, and Jefferson fights off Wendy, the wind lady. By no means are these bad sequences, just poorly stitched together, and not given enough screen time. The Metas alone could fill several episodes.
Jefferson continues to struggle with his real life, finding out he is to lose his job as principle at Garfield High due to the events of last season. The whole situation is a waste of time and the dialogue goes against everything I thought the show stood for. Jefferson going on a rant about the school hiring a white replacement was pitiful; he is supposed to be better than this. Stand up against racism and cultural appropriation, yes, but here he says it’s not ok for a predominantly black school to be run by a white male. The scene was pathetic, pointless and diminished his character. The idea was clearly to show his passion for his students and job, seen by the actually touching if somewhat unnecessary scene, with him addressing his pupils about the situation, but surely this could’ve been explained in a better way.
Overall, was the story good? Yes. Are the performances acceptable? Yes. Is there thought put into the dialogue? Yes. Is it better than last week? Oh hell yes. Pieces are coming together nicely, but it’s just that, pieces, nothing solid or concrete; it’s like a jigsaw with the edges complete. Now is the time to get into the middle and discover the overall picture. With lots of positives to take away this week, I wonder if the progression will continue as the season develops.