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TV Review: Black Lightning (Season 1, Episode 7)

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‘Equinox: The Book of Fate’ was all about the fallout from the previous episode.

Lynn, Jefferson and Anissa deal with the revelations that Anissa has powers and that her father is Black Lightning, while Gambi meets with Lady Eve about the attack on Lynn’s laboratory and ensures she sends ‘cleaners’ after the attackers.  

Black Lightning (2018)

Much of the episode is spent exploring how Jefferson deals with the idea of his eldest daughter having abilities and using them to fight crime and injustice. Refreshingly, and despite his initial condemnation of her actions, he makes the decision to help train her and teach her what he’s learned. The decision is made with Lynn, with respect for one another’s views and with respect for their child.

It’s wonderful to witness Black Lightning find yet another superhero trope to subvert, respecting the newcomer’s decision and motives rather than dismissing them, treating them as an equal rather than holding one’s experience and maturity over the other.

“Be better than me”, Jefferson tells Anissa. It may be basic social evolution, but it’s something few superhero shows or films have opted to explore, and it’s just one part of what makes this show a standout in its genre. It also demonstrates a self-awareness on Jefferson’s part that had been lacking in the last few weeks – that his vendetta against Tobias Whale led to Tori’s death shook him, allowing him to realise that if he continues down this path, there will be collateral damage.

He sees his mistakes, can own up to them, and can wish for his daughter not to continue into the cycle of violence he himself has succumbed to. Bringing Anissa into the fold also succeeded in resolving some of the pacing issues Black Lightning was having from intercutting the main action with her discovery and subsequent investigation into her abilities.

Now at the half-way point of the season, the events of ‘Equinox’ have transformed the landscape and set the scene for dramatic developments to occur. Two deaths in particular are bound to play large parts in the future of the show, those of two leading ladies, Tori Whale and Lady Eve.

Seeing both their deaths enacted in such anticlimactic manners, especially after witnessing the women’s power and intelligence, was disappointing and we must believe, not reflective of what this show can produce. I’m resentful of any woman’s death being used solely to spark sympathy for the man’s pain, and thus I am resentful of Tori’s sudden and pointless death.

Likewise, the loss of two black, female, villains in the space of one episode, one of whom was set to be a season-long antagonist, was particularly painful to watch. Already such a rarity on television, to have to lose them both so suddenly and out of nowhere, killed by men for their own gain, leaves a bitter taste. One can maybe hope that Lady Eve is brought back to life, somehow… weirder things have happened this episode.

The outcome of these deaths is bad news for Black Lightning’s status as Freeland’s hero. With the death of Lady Eve, to the community an example of black female excellence, being blamed on Black Lightning, in with Tobias gradually poisoning the Khalil’s mind to turn against the hero, things are about to change drastically for our titular character.

The strangest scene that ‘Equinox’ should have done away with, especially minutes after the two on-screen deaths, was the inexplicable resurrection of Lala, whom we’d not heard from in weeks. Even more bizarre (yes, more), is that he sees some spirit version of LaWanda, who then turns to white dust and tattoos herself onto his chest.

It was a solid episode, putting important pieces into place as the show transitions into its second half, from introducing and developing its characters into the thick of the action. And despite qualms with some turns of events, it was a well-written hour of entertainment that resolved important pacing issues and introduced a new dynamic between Anissa and Jefferson.

Black Lightning is available to watch on Netflix, with new episodes arriving weekly.




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