Monday, February 11, 2019

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Tobias Makes His Move for the Pod Kids in 'The Book of Secrets: Chapter Three: Pillar of Fire'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 2.13 "The Book of Secrets: Chapter Three: Pillar of Fire"

Lynn works on one of the pod kids in a segregated safe room. Jennifer plots revenge. Jefferson receives some interesting news. Anissa makes a shocking discovery.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's Black Lightning.

"The Book of Secrets: Chapter Three: Pillar of Fire" was written by Lamont Magee and directed by Robert Townsend

It still feels like the season is mostly just moving the pieces around in order to set up something dramatic that will happen. As such, it's difficult to get a clear thematic through-line for the episode as a whole. The pod kids have especially become just a bargaining chip that can be spread around for whatever is narratively convenient. This has always been a frustrating story. It has had its moments from Lynn worrying about the new morality of her job while working with some seriously unethical people. She never wanted anything to compromise her values. But she became the public face of this program and had to provide answers for the sudden deaths of some of the kids. And now, it's mostly just become the center of the action for the show. The threat from the Markovians is mainly on the sidelines right now. Tobias continues to present himself as the true villain. That has always been true. He's the main antagonist that the Pierce family has been fighting against for a long time. They are still trying to get justice for their loved ones who have died because of him. He keeps emerging with more power though. Of course, it's also fascinating how the briefcase was a plot device that has already served its limited purpose. That's a little disappointing just because of how crucial Tobias getting it in the first place was during the first season finale. It just gave him information in order to obtain the pod kids. But Gambi also makes it sound as if all of that information was already available to people who knew exactly where to look. He also knows about the program that turned convicted criminals into metahumans. He is even brought in on the investigation as to what was stolen in that mysterious location. Sure, he doesn't know exactly what's going on. But the audience sure does. It's a war over people who are so impersonal at the moment. They have been that way for the entire season. Only now are a few of them starting to wake up. Dr. Jace has the formula to do so as well. The criminals Tobias has are even programmed with a device in their brain stem that can knock them out and be obedient. That proves that someone was smart when recruiting the worst humanity has to offer for this program all those years ago. But the season is only now explaining that Tobias hopes to become even more wealthy by becoming the leading providor of metahumans on the black market. It's already clear that they are valuable and a war is being fought over them. It just remains impersonal because so much has also been happening that distracts from the core focus. The show is much more interested in the action that comes from Jennifer becoming a vigilante and Lynn needing to be rescued by Jefferson and Anissa. Meanwhile, Anissa is only learning a few mysterious details about Grace's past after she has just disappeared. That too presents as a mystery that should be gaining more traction but remains purely in wheel-spinning mode. Moreover, Jennifer learns that she is more powerful than a nuclear bomb but her instability at the moment could cause her to literally explode. That would be dangerous to the entire city and not just her family. That's a huge burden for her. One that she must carry while still wanting justice for Khalil's death. All of this also makes Jefferson seem perfectly rational for refusing to become principal at Garfield again. He has enough on his plate. The show is essentially saying that as well. That's disappointing because Jefferson was so passionate about shaping young minds as both an educator and vigilante in the first season. But now, that public side of his life has essentially disappeared this season.