Tuesday, May 25, 2021

REVIEW: 'Black Lightning' - Chaos Ultimately Defines the Story's Final Chapter in 'The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two'

The CW's Black Lightning - Episode 4.13 "The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two: Closure"

After four seasons, the game-changing, relevant and electrifying series comes to an end.

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 series finale of The CW's Black Lightning.

"The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two: Closure" was written by Charles D. Holland and directed by Salim Akil

This drama stopped being a searing examination of what it means to be Black and a superhero in America a long time ago. Sure, it still had moments of powerful exploration that spoke to a much deeper issue. But that's all that they were: a few fleeting moments. The show instead opted to broaden its world and create as many superheroic plot complications as possible. As such, the audience probably went into this series finale with certain expectations of what was going to occur based on everything that was set up previously. Of course, the season leading up to this point was a complete mess. It was a pure example of chaotic storytelling. It no longer had the purpose and poignancy it once did. The Pierce family was divided seemingly only because the creative team thought that made things more interesting. Everyone was off pursuing their own quests to seemingly save the world. Those threats never really built on one another in a way that further informed the entire narrative. Instead, it was just a heap of story constructs meant to distract and keep everyone busy. The series eventually builds to Tobias' death. That offers some narrative symmetry as he was always presented as the central antagonist who has defined Jefferson's life as Black Lightning. All hope seemed lost at several points in the last few episodes. Hope would be regained only for it to be tragically snuffed out again. That took the audience on quite the emotional ride. But again, there was no significant attachment to any of these twists and turns. It was simply the show delaying the inevitable. It needed Tobias to fulfill his promise of taking everything away from Jefferson. That mostly just meant his family and his powers. Those were the only things through which he processed the rest of the world. He determined his sense of self based on the standing of his powers and his family. That was his self-worth ultimately. As such, it should be thrilling to watch as Jefferson regains his powers when he is on the brink of death. It mostly just highlights how Tobias was also incapable of killing Jefferson throughout this long and arduous journey. He was instead amused by the poetry of having him be buried alive. He teased the family that Jefferson was dead. And then, Jefferson just shows up in the sky once more asking for information. It's such emotional manipulation with no respect to the ride it sends everyone on. It's just something that is suppose to be accepted. The same applies to Jennifer's sudden return as her true self. That comes with the revelation that another being from the ionosphere took over her place in this world. It means her big story resolution is reuniting with her family. It's hard to see that as a satisfying conclusion given the audience only realizes we should be rooting for that in this final episode. Sure, teases have been given that something isn't adding up with JJ. Jefferson and Lynn have had their suspicions based on test results or her overall personality. That never truly rose up to something resembling doubt and worry. Instead, Jennifer just magically reappears. T.C. gets the stunned reaction. Meanwhile, the family just accepts it as commonplace that she is amongst them once more. It's a gesture meant to infer deeper meaning. Lala is given the last word of the series as he is brought back to life only to see Tobias' impaled body. That suggests that so much of this world is circular in nature. The same stories happen over and over again. Jefferson is passing his legacy down to his children. Gambi is also opting to retire. The kids can handle protecting Freeland from the various threats. There will be plenty of those as well. But again, it frames this whole journey as one defined by Tobias and the threat he specifically posed. With him gone, Jefferson no longer has any reason to be Black Lightning. Their fates were connected in that way. That wasn't necessary true. But the show also figured Jennifer needed a final confrontation with Chief Lopez instead of having a sendoff with Khalil. The show asked the viewer to care about these characters. Over time, they have reflected on the importance of moving on from the past in order to embrace the future. At the end of the day though, the show got too bogged down by ideas that never came out fully formed. As such, a series full of promise mostly goes out without making a statement whatsoever.