Monday, February 8, 2021

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Jefferson Wallows in Grief After Henderson's Death in 'The Book of Reconstruction: Chapter One'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 4.01 "The Book of Reconstruction: Chapter One: Collateral Damage"

Jefferson Pierce is still mourning the death of his long-time friend Detective Henderson. Meanwhile, Gambi is presented with an interesting opportunity. Lastly, Lynn and Jefferson are still not able to see eye to eye.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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 premiere of The CW's Black Lightning.

"The Book of Reconstruction: Chapter One: Collateral Damage" was written by Salim Akil and directed by Salim Akil

Jefferson is in a dark headspace. It's almost as if he wants to get caught and punished for his actions as Black Lightning. He was celebrated as a hero alongside his daughters at the end of the third season because they exposed the corruption of the ASA and ended the war with Markovia. That was a huge victory. It didn't mean that the Pierce family would be able to come together once more. They had fractured apart because of the actions each of them took in pursuit of this goal. Henderson was killed in the war as well. Now, Jefferson's guilt over that is much more weighty and consequential than Henderson's presence ever was during the three seasons he was featured in. As such, the energy is a little mismatched and out-of-place. That is absolutely noticeable. It's clear that Jefferson has a big reaction. He is taking it out with near reckless abandon because that's seemingly the only way he can cope. The audience may struggle in connecting with that impulse. Again, Henderson wasn't that vital to the overall plot. He served his purpose on occasion. He wasn't necessary though. He represented a solid idea that was never explored in a meaningful way. In death, the show may hope to rectify the matter. People constantly tell Jefferson that he has been in this mindset before. He will eventually snap out of it and return to his life as a hero. He argues that this time is different. Black Lightning is dead. He can no longer wear the suit and present himself as a hero. He feels betrayed because his entire family doesn't respect him enough to honor his code of not killing their enemies. They are all furious when they discover that Tobias is still alive. He has returned to Freeland having successfully rebranded himself once more. The Pierce family knows his presence will only bring more pain to them personally. Tobias is seemingly playing the long game at the moment. He makes his presence known at Lynn's workplace. However, he plays along with a certain script to ensure no suspicions are raised. It's disarming and terrifying. Lynn genuinely fears for her life. She continues to pursue her experiments with isolating the meta gene. She is still making advancements. It's not perfect. Plus, she continues to experiment on herself. She is now one of the people running around at night in a mask trying to save lives. It's dangerous for her. She feels protected because she has access to these powers. She believes she is being proactive about the situation. She wants to arm herself for whatever threat may come next from some newcomer to this world or a villainous face from the past. That's what she has come to expect. She believes her family is at risk because Jefferson is choosing to wallow in his grief instead of supporting his daughters in their superhero pursuits. Jennifer and Anissa are trying to disrupt the sales of weapons and drugs in the city. They are an effective team. They make mistakes. Those can potentially carry consequences because the public knows about metahumans now and have started developing weapons against them. The new chief of police believes it's responsible to know the identity of every person with meta abilities. That registration is necessary to best prepare for the threats that could arrive on the horizon. Henderson didn't do that and ultimately gave his life to a war fought by metahumans. She refuses to make the same mistakes. That also means recognizing Jefferson is lying to her the moment he needs to start answering some serious questions. All of this basically means the Pierce family is more dysfunctional now than ever before. It's all because of Henderson. Again, that's just such a weird sentiment. One that doesn't really seem to define this final season with a ton of agency. It's the same situation and conflict happening again. The characters address that familiarity. It certainly needs to have a different evolution and conclusion. And yet, the audience is mostly left waiting for more to happen. This premiere establishes the pieces for the final season. Even then, it continues some stories that haven't been working - like everything having to do with Lala. That's not exactly encouraging. It's a thoughtful meditation on Black rage, grief and love. Those moments still set out to say something profound. That commentary has slowly been getting lost because of the inability to keep track of all the big metahuman developments that have occurred though. Shocking things have happened. However, it's impossible to know just how consequential anything will be because the show has the tendency of exploring the same situations and character conflicts over and over again.