Tuesday, May 11, 2021

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - The Pierce Family Begins to Disrupt Tobias' Plans in 'The Book of Reunification: Chapter Two'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 4.11 "The Book of Reunification: Chapter Two: Trial and Errors"

Jefferson takes Khalil up on his offer to help. Lynn finds herself wrestling with what could be the biggest decision of her life. Tobias follows through on a hunch.

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 Two: Trial and Errors" was written by Asheleigh O. Conley and directed by Bille Woodruff

The keen observer would have noticed Looker's picture amongst the profiles of people Khalil discovered were currently on Tobias' payroll. The even more observant person would have known that the special effects associated with her powers were also on display when FBI Agent Mason served a warrant to search the Pierce house. And now, the show is squarely in explanation mode for its final season. It wants to detail how Tobias made all of this happen. However, it's done with the specific purpose of this being a pivot in the tale. Each member of the Pierce family has already endured their lowest point. They are now building themselves back up again. The journey makes it seem like Tobias was so smart and effective in getting them to those breaking points. None of them saw it coming. But now, he is a little too aloof when ensuring that they don't continue to mess up his grand plans for the city. He doesn't know that his accountant has been targeted by Khalil until after the fact. He doesn't know that Lightning has stolen the meta genes he has been harvesting until after the fact. He probably doesn't even know that Looker has been defeated by Khalil as well. That comes with the assumption that she will prove Jefferson's entire case for him being framed. He and his family have been innocently targeted by a madman. That person just happens to now be in control of the city. He is giving the police chief even more weapons to use in her war against the metas. Tobias still doesn't present as an easy target to take down. That's why he has been a core antagonist for all four seasons. People try their best to stick to their codes. He always finds a way to survive even the most damaging and dire circumstances. He has done that so many times. And now, he is presented as a viable candidate for mayor. He wins that election. He receives praise. He essentially wants to take his victory lap. That allows the family time to understand how all of this happened and how they can stop him from destroying even more lives. But it's also strange that the show is also introducing completely new plot details as well. Gambi and Lauren learn that the entire city is essentially rigged with the radioactive material that fuels their emitter. That is a huge discovery for them. It doesn't immediately play in context for the threats that the audience currently understands. Anissa is certainly capable of using her recently procured evidence to convince Lauren to aid the family in this fight. Gambi no longer has any credibility in her eyes. But this still plays as aimless material meant to keep everyone busy. It showcases how Tobias' plans were for much more than taking down Jefferson and the Pierce family. Meanwhile, Jennifer's powers aren't as reliable as they used to be following her recharge. She is lucky to still have access to them. She still becomes a target. Uriah dies following their date. That's a strange development. It plays as this moment that will shape Jennifer's understanding of the responsibility of having these powers. In reality, it's the show cruelly taking this potential connection away from her after doing very little to develop it in the first place. It's still a maddening creative direction. And finally, the show seems to suggest that Tobias informs the entire dysfunction in Jefferson and Lynn's marriage. Once they are aware of his schemes and have the tools to combat them, then they are suddenly on a united front imaging a perfect life together once more as a happy couple. It's not all that genuine. The show was sincerely interested in examining this relationship with the two of them in therapy this season. That concept has mostly gone away at this point. And again, it's meant to be joyful when Jefferson and Lynn can celebrate once more. But the show has thrown them through so much meaningless drama. As such, it's difficult to be genuinely moved by this development. The same applies to Jefferson revealing himself as Black Lightning to Detective Shakur. That dynamic was informed at the start of the season by Henderson saying Jefferson could trust him. Near the end of the season that's still basically what defines the trust between them. Actions have certainly been done to cement an understanding between the two. It also doesn't compare to other moments where someone outside the family became aware of the powers they display and the heroism they embody. And so, the show continues to hit these plot beats as it inches towards the end. It's a slog. That's unfortunately what it has all become. Nothing can really change at this point.