Episode 11: The Book of Secrets (Chapter 1) – Prodigal Son
Directed by: Rob Hardy
Written by: Pat Charles
Functioning more as an epilogue to the previous episode, “Prodigal Son” opens with a lengthy monologue from Rev Jeremiah Holt (Clifton Powell) once again voicing his socio-religious rhetoric to his congregation about the need for a wholly self-reliant Freeland. What I found odd is that while he praises other historical African-America figures associated with progress and change, he denounces Black Lightning in the same breath; while all advocates of social reform were once demonized as criminals and inciting to sedition.
The emotional weight of Prodigal Son bears heavily on the segments surrounding the paralytic Khalil, as he suffers from the mortal injury endured in the closing moments of last week’s episode. Everyone puts in a great performance, Khalil (Jordan Calloway) included, with Jefferson reaffirming his quest to bring down Tobias Whale for all the lives he has taken (ala the Spider-man mantra with a twist); to Jennifer continuing to fully embracing her powers; and even Dr Stewart (Christine Adams) leveraging her expertise and connections to get Khalil the best treatment humanly possible, despite her tarnished professional record. Anissa (Nafessa Williams) however is sidelined for the vast majority of this episode, only making brief cameo appearances. It’s by no means an oversight or criticism of writer Pat Charles, only that it was noticeable given her prominence in previous “books” up until now.
It must be mentioned that once again the ethical dilemma of the vigilante is placed front and center, even if it does not go anywhere just yet. The glaring failings, shortcomings and corruption in the (real-world) judicial and legal system that allow criminals such as Tobias virtual amnesty necessitate vigilante behavior; and taken to the extreme, anti-hero measures of final, unapologetic justice to counterbalance the impotence of the institutions governing law and justice for its oppressed and downtrodden citizens. Superheroes have to do more than “dress-up” and must, by their actions or influence, facilitate the desired change they want, or that their city needs. Such is the crux of nearly every vigilante movie and TV series, from The Dark Knight, Arrow, and Daredevil to The Punisher – a veritable beginning, middle and end to the “never-ending battle”.
It was also pleasing to see Bill Henderson (Damon Gupton) formally rolled into the fold of Team Lightning as the trio of Jefferson, Henderson and Gambi plot to bring down Tobias in a legally grey way. This leads to an interesting first round of cat-and-mouse. Henderson is no Commissioner Gordon, which is good, but his inherent misgivings about Jefferson & Co’s methods needs to be ironed out if this alliance is to last and be trusted.
Concurrently, Tobias rallies his own team of dastardly cohorts, adding the aloof meta-geneticist Dr Helga Jace (Jennifer Riker) to his number alongside Todd Green and Cutter. And there numbers are set to grow with the teased M.O.D. (Masters of Disasters) metas in cold storage.
In spite of the lack of action, chapter one of “Book of Secrets” is well written and executed with ever-refining gravitas. The fact that “Prodigal Son” is bookended by tragedies – the latter greater than the former – may cause
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.