TV Review: Black Lightning (Season 1, Episode 6)
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After such a powerful start, it seems that during the last few weeks, Black Lightning has fallen into a kind of slumber. What was a show full of politically and culturally acute commentary, original perspectives on an older superhero, and fantastic character work has unfortunately become weighed down with clichés and overused tropes. Every storyline and theme that had been beautifully and subtly set up, like Jefferson’s struggle against his own ageing body, Khalil’s personal journey after seeing his dreams shattered, Tobias’ plan to turn Freeland against Black Lightning, Anissa’s marrying of her newfound powers and her activism, even the impact of Green Light on a black neighbourhood, these were all themes with immense potential. A proper handling of these would mean a masterful execution of the superhero genre in a way that DC television shows have so far failed to do. ‘Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder’ ignored, botched, or rushed each and every one of these. As we move into the second act of the season, Jefferson makes the decision, upon finding out that Tobias Whale has been secretly operating on the streets of Freeland right under his nose, that he is going to kill Tobias to avenge his father’s murder. What could have been an interesting start to a conversation about morality and principle in the superhero frame falls into something far overdone. We are handed the typical and urgent speech by a close friend convincing the hero not to cross the line, warning that “there’s no coming back from this”, the love interest telling the hero that she “can’t do this anymore”, et cetera, all of which we have seen many, many times before. Audiences want to see new takes on classic content, not the same recycled stories!
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