Tuesday, April 20, 2021

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Tobias Attacks Jefferson's Legacy in Freeland With Disinformation in 'The Book of Ruin: Chapter Three'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 4.08 "The Book of Ruin: Chapter Three: Things Fall Apart"

The FBI pays Jefferson a visit. Anissa surprises Grace.

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 Three: Things Fall Apart" was written by Andre Edmonds and directed by Bille Woodruff

A lot of plot is currently happening in this season. The characters are all incredibly busy. At times, it can be difficult to track what exactly each reveal means because the narrative is so fast-paced. Sometimes, moments are allowed to breathe and develop in a more fulfilling way. However, it's unclear how the many disparate plot threads of this season are actually coming together. It's mostly presenting as a chaotic mess. Yes, the central idea is Tobias aiming to ruin Jefferson's entire life. And yet, that's not the motivation for every single action being taken. One would assume that Anissa and Grace come under attack when researching some miracle cure from Monovista would be connected to Tobias in some way. It's not. It's about the other criminal element happening in Freeland. A hitman has been hired to eliminate her from the equation so that these criminal enterprises can expand even further. Grace and Anissa make a compelling team in the field. They are more united than ever before. That remains an infectious quality. Their investigation may eventually link back to what Gambi is doing at the moment. He is working undercover at Monovista trying to help create a new sustainable power source. His innovation could revolutionize the world. But that's almost an afterthought. It's more important for him to take the resource that can do severe damage to the Pierce family should the upgraded weapons hit the street. He will do whatever it takes to protect his family. Grace is welcomed fully into it as well. It's not a big surprise when Grace and Anissa announce their marriage. In fact, it's something Anissa already told her family so that they could prepare a surprise party. That mostly makes the secrecy of it all in the recent episodes fall flat. It didn't really serve a purpose. Moreover, the party doesn't last long before the FBI comes in to completely tear the house apart. It's clear that Tobias has recruited certain metahumans to his cause and is using their powers to attack Jefferson's life in a specific way. Not even T.C. understands how Tobias has framed Jefferson for embezzlement. All of this hopes to reveal Tobias as some master manipulator. In reality, he comes across as a person who causes frustration all the time because people hold themselves to a higher moral standing. It's ridiculous that he is being treated as a serious candidate for public office. But that is told solely through the frame of Tobias trying to take away Jefferson's precious city. He wants to transform the place so that Jefferson can no longer recognize all that once had meaning to him. His father's house and his legacy at the high school can disappear in an instance. There is nothing he can do about that. He has moments of being enraged. And then, he just brushes off some other developments. He trusts that his family won't let any of this happen. It won't escalate in a way that truly threatens their lives or dramatically changes them. That seems to dampen the overall ambitions of the season though. None of this is coming together in a satisfying way. Sure, Lynn may now suspect that there truly is something off with Jennifer now that she has transformed to JJ. But the teenager is still mostly interested in her latest crush and trying to maintain the balance in her life. People care about her. She is still a little too careless. Nothing has truly changed. Of course, there are also moments where the audience is suppose to suspect something else is going on. That leaves the action feeling relatively empty though. It's all the threat of something more significant. Lynn's sobriety operates in the same way. Gambi is given the latest booster so that it's a surprise later on when Val's powers are revealed to be nullifying. That is potentially a big deal. It's just lost in the overall chaos that also dictates the core story. Jefferson is more interested in exposing who truly killed the mayor. He was pursuing Val insofar as she was a possible suspect. Once it's confirmed to be Red, that's suddenly where all the interest lies. It's weird. The story jumps from one action to the next. It follows characters who have solid emotional foundations in this world. It's just all rather empty and aimless now. The final season hasn't particularly kicked into high gear. It may never achieve more than what it currently is. That's disappointing for a show that has always had such admirable ambitions. The wonky execution is at least familiar from past stories though.