Monday, October 7, 2019

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Freeland Becomes a Military State in 'The Book of Occupation: Chapter One: Birth of Blackbird'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 3.01 "The Book of Occupation: Chapter One: Birth of Blackbird"

Agent Odell tightens his grip on the Pierce family, leaving Jennifer abandoned and Freeland without Black Lightning and Thunder. But Anissa secretly defies Odell in her alter ego as Blackbird with the able tactical and technical support of Gambi.

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 season premiere of The CW's Black Lightning.

"The Book of Occupation: Chapter One: Birth of Blackbird" was written by Salim Akil and directed by Salim Akil

The political allegory has always been apt and searing throughout this drama. This show understands the exact nature of the world these characters live in and the parallels they have to real-life politics. At times, it can be too blatant and blunt. Here, it's clear to see what the parallel is. The city of Freeland is under government quarantine with the military creating detention centers for anyone suspected of having powers. It's all under the guise that war is coming from the Markovians. However, it's mostly used as a way to utilize those with powers in order to strengthen the American army and its tools for war. It's horrifying because it means the military and ASA are running the city. They walk around with a pompous energy feeling as if their word is law. If anyone decides to speak out against them, then they will be forced into submission. Henderson doesn't want to impose a curfew on the town. However, the lead agent and his goons force him through violence. The threat is severe from both inside and outside this world. Agent Odell wants everyone to constantly fear the Markovians and what they are capable of. He is expertly able to exploit the situation to his benefit though. People are locked away in cages separated from their families with no telling if they'll ever be returned. There is a lockdown on the city to prevent anyone with powers from operating. Jefferson has acquiesced to Odell's demands in order to protect his family. However, Lynn is still in confinement with him because she is simply too valuable to the American government. And yet, this government is lying to its citizens. It's contorting reality to ensure that no one has the necessary oversight to prevent abuses from happening. They have the justification of this being an uncertain time with the city on the brink of war. Some citizens may be relieved to know they no longer have to fear gang recruitment or violence. And yet, they can still be arrested at any moment in time even if they don't have powers. This confinement can be so devastating to the community. Anissa is still acting out and trying to make a difference. She will hijack a bus full of detainees just to smuggle them outside of the new perimeters guarding the city. It's easy for Gambi to find a way through this system. But it's still a perilous mission for Anissa. One that does leave her susceptible to harm and being caught on the either side of the barrier. That too can be terrifying. Jefferson and Lynn hope that their family is safe. That they are taking all precautionary measures when using their powers. However, Anissa and Jennifer are constantly pushing the boundaries to see how far they can go in this new world order. For Jennifer, she needs to use her powers because the buildup can cause her pain. For Anissa, she is fighting for justice even though she also seems culpable as one of the few people let inside the detention centers. She sees the abuses currently going on. She doesn't even have the full truth yet. She is just working to get as much information as she can to ensure that this reality doesn't become commonplace to those with powers. It's a constant fight for survival. And now, the true cost of war is plain to see. Issa has a useful ability that Odell can exploit. The ASA is still searching for the briefcase full of information. That just happens to include information that can compromise the organization and the entire government. Tobias knows that. He may not be doing well in this containment. But he is still alive. Issa no longer is. Odell kills him because of what he comes to know. Death may never be a certainty in this world as Lala, Khalil and even Issa can attest. However, it's a stark way of starting the new season that shows just how powerful the ASA has become even though they still can't be trusted. The system may constantly be working against the people who have been labeled as "other." In this situation though, those people also happen to have powers that can advance the various agendas working throughout the geopolitical landscape. But the humanity always needs to be seen and cared about. Right now, Odell can kill Issa like it means nothing because it allows him to remain in control. Lynn may have her doubts but this is a system she and Jefferson are now trapped within.