Tuesday, February 11, 2020

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Jefferson Leads a Team to Rescue Lynn From Markovia in 'The Book of Markovia: Chapter Four'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 3.13 "The Book of Markovia: Chapter Four: Grab the Strap"

Black Lightning and his team descend upon Markovia on a mission to rescue Lynn who finds herself in even more trouble when she meets Gravedigger, a metahuman on the Markovian side.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 Markovia: Chapter Four: Grab the Strap" was written by Charles D. Holland & Asheleigh O. Conley and directed by Salim Akil

A team has assembled to rescue Lynn and Tobias from Markovia. And yet, the first half of this episode details just how dysfunctional they are. Jefferson trusts each member of this team. Major Grey simply sees it as a disaster that could tip the scales of this war against the ASA's interests. She wants the best trained unit to storm the compound with Black Lightning leading the charge. She doesn't get that. Instead, it's dysfunction on full display that requires the audience to be keenly aware of the emotional journeys all of the characters have been on this season. It does feel climatic in a way. Lynn has a ton of agency as well. She isn't the helpless victim who needs to be saved by a team of superheroes. Instead, her medical expertise allows her to break out on her own while never having to fully trust Dr. Jace. But again, it's clear that the priorities for the story are to create chaos in this situation. It's hard to understand all of the plot beats that occur here and how this moment has been built up. Major Grey programmed a kill order in Erica's head. That was the order given to Sergeant Grayle as well but he still has free will. That concern is mostly tossed aside though with TC explaining that he did something when it seemed like he was nothing more than a creep. Meanwhile, Khalil is seriously considering leaving Freeland for good because he no longer trusts himself. He fears the monster that is locked away inside his mind. He doesn't know if he can be good to anyone in his life. That may be a false premise though because it's always a guarantee that he will end up on this mission. He proves to be invaluable in the field as well. This episode serves as the big introduction of Wayne Brady as Gravedigger. He will become the new public face of Markovia and the interests of that nation. Right now, it's been difficult to engage with this conflict because it has been so impersonal. And now, Gravedigger presents as a powerful individual who can immediately get results when he pushes people. That is just one of his abilities. He can incept people's minds and order them to do what he wants. He also has speed and agility. But again, this is his introduction to the story. As such, it makes it a little lackluster when it is all building to the moment where it seems as if he has killed Jefferson and tries to coerce the rest of the team into letting Lynn go because he doesn't believe in killing his enemies. There is no real sense of what the audience should believe. Stories have been told about Markovia. That could create a situation ripe for expectations to change and myths to be debunked. It's rousing when Jefferson springs back to life and takes Gravedigger out as a threat. That serves as a potentially grave warning for the lines he is willing to cross to save those he loves. Tobias knows that Jefferson is Black Lightning. There is no hiding the strong connections he has to the Pierce family. Moreover, the episode starts with Jefferson drinking and lamenting to Gambi that he will do anything to get Lynn back. Her addiction never stands in her way as it pertains to this rescue mission. But the ongoing consequences of that will likely be destructive. This episode plays as a victory. But there are compromising decisions made as well. Brandon is starting to come across in a very one-note way where he is willing to walk away from the mission entirely just to enact his own personal vendetta against Jace. That's all that he seemingly cares about. Jennifer understands that but has her own concerns to worry about on the battlefield. Similarly, time is wasted with Jefferson, Anissa and Erica trying to blast through a door. It's clear this hour wanted to showcase all of these powers and individuals being useful in the fight. It just runs the risk of being crowded and chaotic too. By the end, it's unclear what exactly has come of Tobias. Jefferson had freed him from his confinement. And yet, he was dropped entirely once Gravedigger presented himself to the famous superhero he has heard so much about. Jefferson may not view himself as such. But others stand in awe of what he has done and what he symbolizes throughout the world. That is uplifting even in an overall muddled episode.