Steven Slatter reviews the latest episode of Black Lightning.
It would seem the formula for the past few episodes has been to release one exciting, fast paced entertaining instalment, and then dramatically slow the paced, for the following two or three. Although the previous episode was slow, it had good reason: the story was informative, revealing and filled the majority of the run-time. The Book of Little Black lies is slow, but with no real substance or engaging entertainment; the action is cheesy and frankly incredibly lacklustre.
The main concentration for this episode is Jennifer’s revelation that, not only does she have superpowers, but her family have been keeping information from her this whole time. Honestly this was the most interesting aspect of the entire episode; unfortunately it was side-lined for less engaging and less entertaining plot developments.
When Anissa discovered her powers, she learned what her powers were, got herself a costume and began fighting crime (well sort of), all with a smile on her face. Jennifer however, acted the polar opposite to her sister. Rather than seeing her powers as a “gift from god” (as Anissa put it), she sees them as a hindrance to her leading a normal life. This sparked my curiosity because it’s rare to see a story involving super powers with this scenario.
The biggest issue for me was that the most interesting aspect was overlooked. So much of Jennifer’s character development was brushed aside the moment she mentioned she had no desire to be a superhero. Her character, certainly in this episode, had a story arc special and unique to offer which would have elevated the show to a whole new level. I have mentioned before how everything feels a little rushed, and this just proves it. We are only scratching the surface as to what we know about Jefferson and Anissa’s powers and given the short amount of time left, I can’t help but feel Jennifer’s arc should be brought to the mix in a new season and given more attention.
Rushing stories through seems to be what Black Lightning is all about at the moment, not giving one storyline the time and attention it needs or deserves. We’re consistently pulled in by intriguing developments, only to be left disappointed by either the lack of screen time or the fact that it’s forgotten. To name a few examples: Lady Eve and Tori were murdered two episodes ago; Then, Eve was made out to be high on the criminal food chain and a positive member of the community, but since her death her name has barely been mentioned. Tori; Tobias’ sister, meant a lot to him and he’s been absent for two episodes, so when they finally get around to his emotional stance, I doubt anyone will care or even remember. There’s also the question of what happened with Khalil and Tobias’ relationship which hasn’t been mentioned for who knows how long. And don’t get me started on Lala, who’s suddenly disappeared. Perhaps I’m having villain withdrawals.
The main character who seems to be getting their due attention is Gambi; he’s been at the forefront throughout and his development has continued to spark intrigue. Since his betrayal was revealed last episode, he’s doing whatever he can in order to gain Jefferson’s trust back. This includes carrying out his own investigation to clear Black Lightning’s name, using his ASA skills to track people down and gain information. One major expansion is how Gambi reaches out to Anissa in order to give her the suit he made, which honestly I didn’t like too much, and thought her identity was better disguised with her homemade suit.
Lynn is another character who I would like to see more of; her story arc is again very different. Think about it, she has gone from divorce due to Jefferson’s powers, to discovering her two children are in the same boat. The parental aspect has been a recurring theme but when it seems to get remotely interesting or challenging, it’s put to one side. The remaining story surrounded Black Lightning and Thunder (Anissa) as they destroy a greenlight factory; this was complete with a clichéd, slo-mo walk away from a perfectly timed explosion. This story seemed pointless to me, they go to such efforts to blow up the factory but, come on, was nothing learned from Breaking Bad? The drugs can be made anywhere, this wasn’t helpful.
Overall, this was a very subpar episode. It left me disappointed and perplexed as to the show’s pathway to the finale, in four episodes time. The story elements were rushed and in some cases overlooked, it’s as if so much is being crammed into a single season through fear of not getting another one. They need to re-establish their focus and concentrate on developing one or two stories at a time. Last episode was a perfect example of this, and all I would say is, include a little worthwhile action. I still have hope this show can deliver but this was a real bummer.
Guessed the spoiler? Are modern audiences too savvy for TV show twists?
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum