Wednesday, May 5, 2021

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Jefferson, Anissa and Jennifer Lose Their Powers in 'The Book of Reunification: Chapter One'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 4.10 "The Book of Reunification: Chapter One: Revelations"

Black Lightning sends Gambi an SOS. Meanwhile, Lynn finds herself in some serious trouble.

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 Reunification: Chapter One: Revelations" was written by Jamila Daniel and directed by Benny Boom

As expected, the members of the Pierce family all emerge from their seemingly dire situations from the conclusion of the last episode void of any life-threatening consequences. That was the expected storytelling development. It was exciting to picture them in these perilous positions without their powers. However, the overall story doesn't want to hinder any of them from being heroic in the conclusion of the series. That is a little disappointing. The show barely flirts with the idea of examining what these powers actually mean for this family. What does it mean for them to no longer have access to them? Grace is alarmed by just how desperate everyone else is to regain their powers. These abilities make up a significant amount of their overall identities. They believe these gifts are the only way they can serve as heroes for Freeland. This city needs their influence. Being able to tackle any threat thanks to these powers makes them valuable members of the community. They are still being hunted down though. Threats can come from anywhere. They don't always have all the answers. Yes, Grace and Anissa are married now. They get to celebrate some of that happiness. They can only do that to a certain extent though. Their lives always and quickly get overwhelmed by the dangerous stakes that are present in the world. They couldn't even enjoy a honeymoon without getting pulled into Khalil's drama. Of course, he wants to help the Pierce family as well. He seems to be making some progress in that endeavor. He is aided by the fact that his abilities don't come from the meta gene. He was modified. As such, his personality and role in this world don't change at all now that Tobias wields his power over Freeland. However, Tobias' motivation is still incredibly murky in that regard. He wants power. That's about as nuanced as the show aspires to be. Sure, it has also mentioned him trying to get vengeance for his sister after she was killed. But now, the show introduces an entirely new topic of him enacting this grand scheme in order to become a member of the Board - an organization that has had no real impact on the series to date. It's just so weird to see the show be so casual in discarding stories that were once important enough to center a great deal of time around. It was necessary for Destiny to defeat Lala in their gang war and recruit Ishmael to her cause. Now, she is dismissed because Tobias no longer sees any value in her. It's odd. It blatantly comes across as the show not having enough meaningful story to fill the required time. That's not true at all. Again, the show could delve deeper into these character identities and what it means to be a hero. It's one conversation here. The rest is Gambi trying to understand how Tobias has pulled this off. The audience already knows how though. And so, the viewer is operating ahead of the protagonists. That's an annoying plot hurdle that must be overcome. It also elongates the emotions that defined the final moment from the previous episode. That stunning level of accomplishment through manipulation doesn't carry the same weight when it dawns on others slowly and in agonizing detail. Gambi puts the pieces together. T.C. requires outside help in order to provide technical support. Anissa learns about another valuable project Tobias has been funding. And then, more relationship strife is introduced between Jefferson and Lynn solely because her ex-boyfriend is brought in as her lawyer. The show is barely putting in the effort to suggest this as something the viewer should be concerned about. A character mentions it. As such, it must be true. That's really hitting the basics with what the audience can accept at this point. It has the effect of making the viewer disengage with the subject altogether. At this point, it doesn't matter if Jefferson or Lynn stay together. It really doesn't. That's insane given all the earned work the show put in developing their love in the first place. So much has spiraled out of control. That's not even delving into Jennifer returning to the ionosphere to recharge herself. These abilities still exist within all of them. She has the spark that can start her up once again. It mostly proves that she is the same character who almost died earlier in the season. Not a lot of progress has been. Sure, she doesn't die here either. The story simply suggests more is happening up there. That could be intriguing. But again, the show has already been heavily teasing something more going on with Jennifer. It has failed to live up to that promise. It's simply hitting the same story notes over and over again hoping the audience still cares. Some residual feelings are still present. The show is simply stuck and unsure how to get out of it at this point behind creating a few visceral and engaging moments of action.