Monday, March 8, 2021

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - The Family Must Keep Hope Alive Following Jennifer's Tragedy in 'The Book of Ruin: Chapter One'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 4.05 "The Book of Ruin: Chapter One: Picking Up the Pieces"

Gambi supports Black Lightning as he departs on a special mission. Meanwhile, Grace tries to persuade Anissa to let her guard down.

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 next episode of The CW's Black Lightning.

"The Book of Ruin: Chapter One: Picking Up the Pieces" was written by Adam Giaudrone and directed by Bille Woodruff

The Pierce family wants to believe in a world of possibilities. It's difficult for many of them to accept though because of their analytical minds. Sure, this is a fantastical world full of metahumans. The realm of what's possible is so much more than what they could have ever imagined previously. And yet, it seems like a daunting task to reassemble Jennifer's matter after she was torn apart in the ionosphere. That was such a visceral and shocking development. It was a form of addiction for her. It had a significant cost to it. And yet, this science fiction logic can be implemented to provide hope for the family. It drives the entire plot for the hour. The family never has to mourn Jennifer. This isn't necessarily the end for her. Of course, she could also be returning to a world where she is public enemy number one. She takes that mantle from the leaders of the various gangs whose war is still creating a lot of destruction on the streets of Freeland. Lightning is identified as a killer simply because a body has lightning strikes on it. Jefferson is responsible for that death. He was reckless with his identity and powers. And now, the entire family is dealing with those consequences. He isn't suddenly advocating for killing one's enemies. He knows that something more happened after he assaulted this man. He doesn't know the full story quite yet. His focus just remains on Jennifer. He suits up as Black Lightning once more because that is the only way he can potentially save her. It's an action that could easily kill him as well. He has never absorbed all of her power before. The narrative has always said that Jennifer can manifest more energy than anyone else on the planet. That has long been the scope of her powers. She could escape to a world that no one had ever experienced before. It was exhilarating and freeing. The ionosphere presented as an escape. Up there, she could receive nothing but warm comfort. It was dangerous though. Gambi and Lynn don't know if this procedure to reassemble her matter will work. Nor do they know how she will potentially return to the family. They acknowledge that it will be a slow process. And yet, it's not something that takes more than one episode to provide clarity on. By the end of this hour, a body emerges from the pod used for this scientific experiment. Jefferson refused to give up hope for his daughter. He could always feel her presence. He knew that she wasn't lost yet. He had the power to do something about that. He put everything he had into bringing her back to life. And then, the entire family is stunned by the reveal that the body that emerges doesn't look like the Jennifer they have always known. That may be the ultimate consequence of all of this. It provides the show with a convenient way to continue featuring the character even though China Anne McClain left. It's still a rather perfunctory explanation. It's not atypical for a science fiction driven show though. The show does its best to explain it all to the audience so that it can be believed and accepted. The power comes from the emotional reactions the entire family has throughout this experience. The awkwardness between Anissa and Grace is still strange. However, Anissa relies on the support from her wife in order to remain strong throughout this uncertainty. Meanwhile, Jefferson and Lynn continue to blame each other in heated exchanges over the destruction this family has endured. And yet, they also apologize for the secrets they've kept and how broken they've been for awhile. This trauma may bring the family back together. But it's also them stepping onto a new path. One where the world at large is more dangerous than ever before. The threat from Tobias and Lala remains constant. They refuse to die or leave the Pierce family alone. Moreover, Black Lightning returns as the symbol of hope Freeland has always needed. That has the potential to change everything once more. But metahumans are still being targeted by the police with such conviction. Their good actions may always carry extreme consequences to them. That may be the cost of their existence in this world. The season hopes to examine those ideals in depth. Jennifer may suffer in an acute way that others haven't so far. Hope remains that this family can remain whole. That has to provide a shining ray of light despite how dark and uncertain the world has increasingly become for the Pierce family.