Episode 12: The Resurrection and the Light: The Book of Pain
Directed by: Oz Scott
Written by: Jan Nash & Adam Giaudrone
In my last review I didn’t give the writers of Black Lightning enough credit to neatly bind all the loose threads that were left over as the series progressed and went in a new direction, with just two episodes remaining this season. The competence of Nash and Giaudrone’s script exceed expectations and have silenced any doubt.
With the clandestine government agency ASA firmly established as this season’s insidious prime mover, the episode very quickly gives you a sense of where all the seamlessly interconnected antagonists lie on the totem pole of villains, as one devil hierarchically lays sway over the other; from heavy-hitters Tobias Whale (portrayed by Marvin Jones III) and pragmatically racist mastermind Martin Proctor (played by Gregg Henry), to second tier baddies Lala (portrayed by William Catlett) and Khalil Payne (played by Jordan Calloway).
Time away from the show was well spent, as Jordan Calloway impressively went through a physical transformation for his new role as a bitter Black Samson. Khalil’s return to Freeland marked a bad omen for Jefferson and his family that isn’t realized until it is too late. Khalil’s warped perspective of his victimization fuels his resentment and anger towards the Pierce family, but there lies glimmers of the more morally astute man he once was. Although, that part of him may only be undergoing his death pangs before his “Hyde” side takes complete control. That conflict flows naturally through his very emotionally unstable state at this point. As such, Jordan gives a standout performance.
The episode also takes time to focus on Jennifer’s consistent reluctance and how she has gravitated towards her mother Lynn (as Anissa does with Jefferson). There is a brief debate about a “cure” which is a substitute for the eternal ethical debate of genetic identity and socially/culturally construed “illnesses” or “defects”. But they digress from this issue to the main event.
The tag-team showdown at Garfield High was appropriate and satisfying, even if Tobias and his crew were technically handicapped. It was enthralling to see Thunder take on Syonide (played by Charlbi Dean) even though Whale’s personal henchwoman remains a personality-less caricature. While the reluctant and dismissive Jennifer’s hand is forced by the end, it was inevitable as the inescapable burden of good people with extraordinary powers.
Looking back, even with all the miraculous resurrections of some characters, Black Lightning finds a way to make this superhero trope intriguing rather than stale, leaving room for others, like maybe Lady Eve or Tori Whale to come back later on. I am certainly excited for the grand finale of season one of Black Lightning, eagerly anticipating how matters will ultimately play out, and what consequences and casualties (if any) will be left in its wake for both the Pierces and Freeland.
Hailing from the eastern-most Caribbean island of Barbados, Fabian Wood has long since been fascinated by the power of storytelling to inspire and invoke emotions – whether in film, comics or video games. No longer content to be just an avid comic book reader and video gamer, he’s eager to exercise his literary acumen as an aspiring writer and reviewer.