Monday, March 9, 2020

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Black Lightning and Gravedigger Fight for the Soul of Freeland in 'The Book of War: Chapter Three'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 3.16 "The Book of War: Chapter Three: Liberation"

Black Lightning faces off against Gravedigger.

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 season finale of The CW's Black Lightning.

"The Book of War: Chapter Three: Liberation" was written by Charles D. Holland and directed by Salim Akil

Freeland was at a tipping point heading into this finale. The city was under siege by the Markovian forces led by Gravedigger. He was so powerful because of all the metahuman enhancements he had. What was a powerful scientific tool discovered by Lynn became a daunting weapon in the hands of someone who wished to bend the world to his will. Gravedigger continues to see himself in a righteous light. It doesn't matter that he strips people of the free will over their choices. He sees himself as a liberator. He frees the metahumans of America from their shackles. They don't have to be experimented on like he was. He found his freedom in Markovia. He forged a new path for himself. It was one still defined by the nefarious and covert antics of the American government. This presents as the only valid choice for him to make in order to topple the power structures of the world that have allowed all this suffering in the first place. Jennifer stands as a symbol of hope. Sure, she is reckless in flying off to battle without any backup or a solid strategy. She becomes a prisoner here. That doesn't last long because she has the love and support of her team. This finale proves to be quite destructive. And yet, it forces the main characters to make firm choices about where they stand. Jennifer knows that the world isn't perfect. And yet, she has to celebrate the progress made while also constantly fighting to make it better. Holding people accountable for their actions is what brings about change in an effective way. This world runs the risk of complete destruction and anarchy because people have these incredible abilities now. Gravedigger feels like he can radically change the world by himself. And yes, he probably can. That just means he isn't beholden to anyone but himself. He can't be persuaded either. Jefferson doesn't believe his adversary is beyond redemption though. He will fight to save and possibly redeem his great uncle no matter what. Tyson Sykes may have lost his way a long time ago. He has lived a long life. That is seemingly a great side effect of these abilities. However, he has become jaded about the world. But Jefferson's underlying message of hope and justice is ultimately proven to be true here. He stops Gravedigger. He saves lives. He also exposes the actions of the ASA that have funded this metahuman research and experimentation for decades. Lives were lost along the way. Those deaths can certainly ring hollow because the audience doesn't really have a grand connection to them. Henderson dies protecting Black Lightning and Lightning. Jace is killed as Agent Odell hopes to silence all classified information from getting out. Commander Williams dies because Lynn has once again given herself a metahuman booster. She too runs the risk of growing too used to the simplicity of the power she now wields. She doesn't know her own strength in this moment. She isn't ready to deal with those consequences. But she also advocates for Jefferson to leave Gravedigger behind when the Pit is going to self destruct. That doesn't kill him as the final twist reveals. But it does ensure that Lynn returns to using green light. That will have consequences for the Pierce family. Grace is in a coma following this battle as well. All of this personal drama remains without any certainty that their lives will be resolved in a rewarding and fulfilling way. But again, they have to get right back to fighting for justice in this world. It's their responsibility to ensure their personal agency matters and they are taken seriously. They can't be tortured and abused by the dangerous forces of this world. Killing Odell isn't the answer. It just feels good out of a sense of revenge. Khalil can win over control of his body once more. It's an exhausting battle though. In the end, he still has to make that choice to provide the justice this city needs right now. The truth gets out. How Freeland bounces back from all of this will be based on whatever the people in charge decide immediately afterwards. Trauma and tragedy are tough. The noble cause led by Black Lightning though can ensure a bright path forward. The heroes will be tested. Gambi's shop is destroyed. Tobias, Lala, Lady Eve and Gravedigger are still alive and will remain unpredictable figures in the criminal world of Freeland. But the Pierce family has the strength to rally behind one another and find the right way to survive in a world that continues to grow more erratic. That resilience is a strong beacon of hope and redemption.