TV Review: Black Lightning (Season 1, Episode 4)
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There’s a new threat to Black Lightning’s Freeland, and to his school: a designer drug ominously named ‘Green Light’, which Jefferson first encounters when one of his students Hulks out in the boy’s bathroom after taking just one pill. Whatever this drug is that The 100 have put into circulation, it took Jefferson shocking Bernard not once, but twice, just in order to stop him. This could foreshadow significant street violence if Green Light is to become more widely available in the community. ‘Black Jesus’, Black Lightning’s fourth episode, may be less well constructed than its predecessors, but nonetheless begins to put pieces into place that will undoubtedly prove crucial to the overarching narrative.
As with last week, the primary flaw in the episode’s pacing is the intercutting between the general plot and Anissa’s story. Of course, it’s likely that once she commits to vigilantism and encounters Black Lightning, the two arcs will weave themselves together more cohesively. Yet for now, the episode’s rhythm leaves something to be desired. Of particularly awkward placement is one scene in which Anissa, over family dinner, confronts Henderson over the police’s inaction, and over his condemnation of Black Lightning’s actions. It’s a very cliché argument about vigilantism versus law enforcement that really isn’t needed here. While it more concretely sets up Anissa’s intentions for the usage of her powers, there is no transition to or from the scene, which thereby feels artificially pasted into the middle of the episode. None of this can eclipse this week’s shining performance however, provided courtesy of Jennifer. As she tries to be everything for Khalil, she already begins to lose herself in the situation, while still being unable to save her boyfriend from the pain of a broken dream.
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