Episode 10: The Book of Rebellion (Chapter 3) – Angelitos Negros
Directed by: Salim Akil
Written by: Jan Nash & J Allen Brown
While the end of “Book of Rebellion” was inevitable, it was still a curiosity as to how effectively it would wrap up the arc, while setting progressive groundwork for the latter half of Black Lightning Season 2. Happily, it succeeds in spades on both fronts. The only drawback is that the hiatus between episodes due to the mid-season break has caused a loss of emotional momentum built up in the first two chapters.
The Pierce family, and Cutter (Kearran Giovanni), continue their desperate manhunt to find Khalil (Jordan Calloway) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain). The inescapable futility of their ill-fated eloping weighs on both of Rebellion’s main stars. Fortunately enough, I have to give writers Jan Nash and J Allen Brown props for maintaining the chastity of our two star-crossed protagonists. It’s a rarity to find such reservation from characters in similar circumstances, in other shows and movies, and it was done with such sincerity that did not betray who the characters themselves were.
Khalil’s emotional arc since season one evolves further as the road to his redemption is paved through a genuine change of heart that finds an uneasy alliance with the super-powered Pierces. Leveraging the knowledge he has accumulated over the course of the season, Khalil has effectively become a “magic bullet”, capable of crumbling Tobias’ empire and devastating the Pierce family if what he knows becomes public. Alternatively, Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams) finds it in himself to give the repentant villain his shot at absolution, in spite of recent developments and his own personal dealings with Khalil in the past. The moral maturity expressed by both former adversaries is uplifting.
Meanwhile, not to be forgotten, Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) begins his grooming of his newest apprentice, Todd Green (RJ Cyler). Todd comes off as a cartoonishly enthusiastic geek, who is more than happy to help Tobias despite all the overt red flags. His lack of conflict and unquestioning compliance marked with over-eagerness – bordering on sycophantic – does not serve him well in making him appealing as a character. It was nevertheless nice to see the mysterious briefcase come back into play and the revelations of its ties to the former ASA administration and beyond.
The third act of this episode goes as well as could be expected, as Khalil martyrs himself with a hefty body count in tow. The final shot of Khalil after the gruesome Mortal Kombat-esque scene is a much earned conclusion to “Rebellion” that does not seem cheap, but instead sublime.
The ramifications of “Book of Rebellion” are long and deep, but may be overshadowed by what has been teased for coming episodes. These events may very well be the catalyst to push Jennifer to become “Lightning” (as teased in recent promotional material). “Book of Rebellion/ Chapter 3” would have been better served if it were executed as the punctuation between 2018 and 2019. Regardless, this is unequivocally one of, if not the strongest “Book” of Black Lightning/ Season 2 to date, in no small measure due to series developer Salim Akil at the director’s helm. I can only hope the pathos Akil continues to invoke is echoed in future episodes to come.
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.