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Black Lightning S3:EP15 / The Book of War (Chapter Two) – Freedom Ain’t Free

Black Lightning -- "The Book of War: Chapter Two" -- Image Number: BLK315B_0312b.jpg -- Pictured: Wayne Brady as Gravedigger -- Photo: Nathan Bolster/The CW -- © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Directed By: Oz Scott

Written By: Pat Charles

It is sad to say that the penultimate episode of Black Lightning season three is an underwhelming one. It’s a lot of lackluster set up, ill-fitting parts and a lot of dialog between characters that barely serve to either reflect on recent matters or inch the story along.

Opening up with a more in-depth backstory and insight into our fresh arch-nemesis, Gravedigger (Wayne Brady), we get hues of “Big Boss” from the Metal Gear Solid videogame series, blended with the “Deadpool” program from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and a good heft of “Magneto’s” (X-Men) radical meta-human supremacist idealism thrown into the broth that is Tyson Sykes’ personality and motivations. It all congeals well to give our brand new self-righteous militant megalomaniac much needed breath and pathos in a very short space of time; all in all to rev up his showdown with our titular superhero.

Other segments include the rogue Khalil (Jordan Calloway) still literally wrestling with his inner demon alter ego; plus a Brandon (Jahking Guillory)/Dr Jace (Jennifer Riker) moment, and samples of Lady Eve and Lala/Tattooed Man. These parts felt very disconnected from the main story, as the inclusion of these vignettes seemed superfluous, adding nothing new to the table or stakes. They all feel like afterthoughts to pad the timing, which could have been better spent on the pretty much glossed over event that happens later on between Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Grace (Chantal Thuy).

With the pending invasion by Gravedigger and his meta-Markovian army moments away, the episode meanders to the point where someone does something reckless that throws all the heroes’ preparation out the window to give us some semblance of a cliffhanger.

Regrettably, “Freedom Ain’t Free” seems like a total wasted effort. The minute segments feel unconnected and the celebratory reunion underdeveloped. This also isn’t helped by the omission of key secondary and tertiary characters (Tobias Whale, Chief Bill Henderson, and the ASA lackey trio Major Sara Grey, Sergeant Gardner Grayle and Commander Carson Williams) and the Freeland Resistance. Even with its (big) plot twist reveal and the tease of the “Shadow Cabinet” from Milestone Comics, I struggle seeing myself giving this episode a passing grade. Here’s hoping that the finale delivers the kind of high-stakes, big battle we’ve come to expect from CW/Arrowverse to cap off another season.

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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.

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