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TV Review: Black Lightning (Season 1, Episode 10)

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‘Sins of the Father: The Book of Redemption’ gives us a third wonderfully-executed episode in a row, a relief after a few shakier episodes. Black Lightning has found its groove, and it is a joy to witness.

The show swung between genres for a few weeks without hitting true, as though uncertain of its own identity. Where it began as an effectively gritty, urban crime series full of social commentary, it suddenly changed into a more fantastic show with unexplainable powers and people coming back from the dead.

Black Lightning (2018)

With the last few episodes, this week most of all, the writers have skilfully woven both aspects of the show into one cohesive style. While remaining close to the superhero action and costumes, ‘Sins of the Father’ also stays close to interpersonal relationships between its characters, sees Black Lightning struggle with his reputation in the neighbourhood, deal with the problems of Green Light on the streets and Jefferson being a mentor to his young student.

The ASA is closing in on Black Lightning, and if the preview to next week is any indication, things are about to go far south for Jefferson. When Anissa and Jefferson investigate Gambi’s tip about the warehouse full of the inanimate bodies of kids kidnapped thirty years ago, they walk right into an ambush, one that leads the ASA to realise Gambi is not only a traitor, but that he knows the identity of Black Lightning.

Another major development is that (spoiler!) Vice Principal Kara is the ASA’s ‘spotter’, the person identifying metahuman students and relaying the information to the organisation. Yes it’s surprising, but it doesn’t feel like an impactful betrayal since the audience barely knows anything about her beyond her job at the school. Plot-wise however, it does give the bad guys an incredible inside advantage, and it will be exciting to see what the writers do with this new player.

After a week of absence Lala is back with his weird plotline, this time with another ghost: Will, the cousin he murdered right at the start of the season. It’s weird, it doesn’t make sense, and it’s not getting cleared up, but somehow it still makes for some great content.

Most likely the reason his narrative is so intriguing, and enticing is thanks to William Catlett’s perfect and withdrawn performance. This episode does better with his story in turning away from his visions of Lawanda (was anyone else immensely irked by that shower scene?) and seeing him instead returning to the drug world and taking control of the One Hundred.

Speaking of, Tobias is still missing, as is Khalil, hence why Lala is getting so much attention. It’s been a little disappointing seeing both missing for so many episodes, considering how promising the idea of Tobias using Khalil as a weapon of propaganda against Black Lightning was. Nothing has so far come of that, though there may still be time.

One thing Black Lightning has definitely suffered from recently is the sheer number of villains. The reason Lala is so refreshing is because he works for himself, rather than being involved in an endless hierarchy of ‘big bads’. Between Lala, Tobias, Tori, Lady Eve, Proctor, and now Fowdy, it’s as though they’re on an endless rotation without leaving enough time for loose ends to be tied up. Please, no more introductions until next season.

On the Pierce’s side of things, Anissa and Jefferson keep improving as a team, Jefferson moves closer to forgiving Gambi’s lies, and Jennifer is still struggling to come to terms with her powers. Thankfully despite all that’s going on, the writers still include a moving talk between her and her father, in which he tells her that she is free to live the life she wants, so long as she learns to control her abilities. It was needed after the harsh words Anissa threw her way, and a valid practical point given the volatility of her powers.

This was another great instalment that cemented Black Lightning’s identity as a perfect balance between the superhero genre, family drama and a gritty urban crime show. As the season heads into its final three episodes, hopes are the writers begin to tie up loose ends and answer those questions that have been left hanging for some time. If it carries on the way it has, the scene is set for an amazing season finale.

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




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