Monday, March 2, 2020

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Jefferson Prepares for Battle as Anissa and Grace Commit to Each Other in 'The Book of War: Chapter Two'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 3.15 "The Book of War: Chapter Two: Freedom Ain't Free"

After learning that Gravedigger and the Markovians are coming to attack Freeland, the Pierce family prepares for war.

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 War: Chapter Two: Freedom Ain't Free" was written by Pat Charles and directed by Oz Scott

How well has this season escalated its stories? It has certainly done a better job than the second season did when there was simply too much going on making it particularly muddled by the end. The narrative is still full of a lot of developments that don't always compliment each other. In fact, those tangents can often be distracting. This episode doesn't have time for Anissa and Grace to free the Perdi after they were taken hostage by Gravedigger and the Markovians. And yet, it does have time for Agent Odell, Lala and Lady Eve making their plans for the future. That is just weird. Sure, there are some surprises that are actually earned and help ensure the conflict coming in the season finale. But it's also weird to see the show continue to use stalling techniques to prevent the action from happening too quickly. Again, some of those moments work incredibly well. The family gatherings have long been the strength of the show. Jefferson has a strict moral code. He has passed it along to the rest of his family. Anissa and Jennifer have struggled with it. Lynn may be tempted now as well. This is the most daunting threat to Freeland the Pierce family has had to contend with so far. They are unified in protecting their home. The American government has essentially moved out. Agent Odell is only around because he still wants the briefcase that can unlock all the secrets of the government and the organization he loyally serves. Of course, some of those government secrets are out in the open now. Lynn can even add to them with the reveal that Gravedigger is actually Jefferson's great uncle. This family has some powerful genes. Their specific genetic material has allowed the meta gene to flourish without any consequences. Lynn's expertise stems from that discovery. She is brilliant because she understands what makes her family special and powerful while extending that courtesy to others. Of course, that only further enhances Gravedigger's own abilities. Lynn has to contend with the thought that Gravedigger could indefinitely give himself any meta powers he wants. That is the luxury afforded to him because of his unique genetic structure. Jefferson probably operates in a similar way. That makes this conflict more personal. Jefferson is actually fighting against a member of his family who has become disillusioned about America. That divide of ideologies happened a long time ago. Gravedigger's eyes have long been opened to the depravity on display. He knows the Americans have manipulated and abused the world just to advance its own personal agenda. It did so on the backs of people of color who were just expected to take it and be grateful. Gravedigger views himself as being a man of profound moral character who respects his enemies no matter what. He may kill them in such brutal fashion. But he gives them proper burials. It's telling that the show is trying to cram all of this backstory of the main antagonist in at the last minute. That means there isn't enough time for Anissa and Grace to get married like they want. They express those wishes. They don't want to have any regrets should this be the end of their lives. Gravedigger leads a powerful army while the United States is ready to nuke the city should things not go their way. It's horrifying to think that that is the only option to best handle this situation. It makes it a personal responsibility for the Pierce family and their allies to fight and thrive afterwards. That makes it contentious when Khalil and Brandon are wild cards in this whole story whose personal motivations may unravel what everyone else is hoping to achieve. And yet, Jennifer almost dies because she recklessly flies off into battle with Gravedigger believing she is the most powerful asset in the fight against him. She survives but her actions may only welcome more despair into the city as Jefferson has to fight a member of his family who lost his way and may not be able to find redemption because he only sees the violence of binary choices now. That is an exciting cliffhanger. Again, expectations are set for the finale. Other elements are too focused on the future and keeping various plates spinning in the air. But when the show remains focused on the core values of the Pierce family and their struggle to survive together, it remains a powerful drama to watch.