TV Review: Black Lightning (Season 1, Episode 5)
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This week’s episode, forebodingly titled ‘And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light’, found Jefferson and Tobias Whale, our hero and villain, pursuing one another more urgently, as their history begins to unravel, and motivations become understood. Those same unveilings of their past are also understood to inform each man’s values and drive, bringing complexity to the black-and-white dynamic (notice the interesting parallel in Jefferson being African-American and Tobias being a black albino).
I’ve complained about unevenness in tone in the past, but with no episode thus far has this problem been as evident as in episode five. ‘And Then the Devil Brought the Plague’ teased much information that the audience needed to better understand the world of Black Lightning, but the disparate plotlines were once again a pitfall for an otherwise fantastic show. ‘Black Jesus’ had set up many plot threads that this week would have benefited from exploring: Jennifer’s reasons for quitting track, Tobias and Tori’s plan to manipulate Khalil and Freeland against Black Lightning, or a more thorough exploration of the Green Light drug epidemic and its impact on the community. The writers decided that instead of picking up threads that had been set up last week, at the cost of the show’s rhythm, they would introduce new problems. Jefferson struggles with sudden and acute migraines, Jennifer gets into a fight with two mean girls, Anissa plays detective and discovers new information about her grandfather’s work and murder, and Whale goes through his own personal trial.
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