Tuesday, May 18, 2021

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Jefferson and Tobias Return to Where It All Began in 'The Book of Resurrection: Chapter One'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 4.12 "The Book of Resurrection: Chapter One: Crossroads"

Jefferson realizes that sometimes, an admission of weakness can be a show of strength. Tobias is focusing on an end game.

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 Resurrection: Chapter One: Crossroads" was written by Brusta Brown & John Mitchell Todd and directed by Benny Boom

Jefferson declared that Black Lightning was dead at the start of this season. And now, Tobias declares that Jefferson Pierce is dead. It's clearly a framing device meant to invoke symmetry. Of course, Jefferson's statement at the beginning didn't last for too long. Sure, it probably lasted longer than it should because it didn't seem like a proportional response to Henderson's death. As such, the audience should probably be skeptical about Tobias succeeding in killing Jefferson. It's certainly possible. This is the penultimate episode of the entire series. Tobias threatened consequences should the Pierce family continue to stand in his way by serving as superheroes in Freeland. He terrifies Jennifer once more. Meanwhile, the show foreshadowed that this encounter with Tobias could turn lethal. Jefferson delivers his updated will to Lynn. He doesn't want to leave anything left unsaid between them. And yes, that is a sweet and genuine moment of affection. One that highlights how they have managed to come back together after a season of strife. It's not particularly earned. The show delighted more in the dysfunction of their dynamic instead of reasonably showcasing how they found their way back to each other once more. The family is united simply because they are all trapped in the same situation. Their powers have been taken away. As such, everyone fights to reverse that. Everyone has bright and inventive ways of doing so. But that also highlights how this episode tries hard to wrap up a lot of stories that have been important throughout this season. And yet, it doesn't come close to resolving all of the dangling threads that still exist. It's still messy overall. Anissa and Grace have a meaningful conversation about the morality of telling women that they have been the subject of medical experiments at the hands of a greedy and corrupt healthcare company. Anissa sees the power in this story being known to call out the injustices of the system. Meanwhile, Grace sees the personal horror the truth will inflict on all of these families. The effects will linger for the rest of their lives. Knowing the truth will do nothing to change what happened. The conversation is mostly kept short and concise. Grace convinces Anissa. They then go to destroy the facility where this conspiracy houses all of these secrets. It's a side adventure that really isn't connected to the main plot at all. Sure, it's part of the arsenal Tobias has built in his pursuit of dominating every sector of the city. And yet, it has already served its purpose for him. As such, it's easy to dispatch it now. The same applies to Looker. She is reluctant to testify in support of Jefferson. She agrees to do so because Tobias sends Ishmael to kill her. Painkiller doesn't allow that to happen. But it's mostly just an excuse for a cool fight scene. The show is reliable in providing those moments of action. Jennifer gets to strike back against Red as well. She is lucky in disarming the bracelet that grants him powers. Her strength is resilient despite the ongoing threat to all of her loved ones. Again, the show strives for personal symmetry in the way these stories are ending. The strain is apparent though. People can figure it out for themselves long before it happens. That's true of Lauren connecting the dots of why Gambi and the Pierce family are personally motivated by all of this. It's also true of Jefferson dying in the exact same position by the exact same man as his father. It highlights the generational cycle of trauma that so many communities of color are trapped within. Jefferson thought he had escaped and built a better life full of more opportunities for his girls. Tobias reduces him back down to these dark lows in the span of a season. It's chilling. The argument can be made for it being an effective final story. The justification for every step along the way is questionable at best. The series finale may frame all of this in a new way. This final season still had massive shortcomings that allowed character arcs to happen at an erratic pace. Nothing can be done to change that. But there are still many plots left dangling that need to be addressed in order for something resembling resolution to occur in the final episode of the series.