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Review-Black Lightning, S2, EP 13/ The Book of Secrets (Chapter 3) – Pillar of Fire

Black Lightning - "The Book of Secrets: Chapter Three: Pillar of Fire" - Photo: Bob Mahoney/The CW - 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Episode 13: The Book of Secrets (Chapter 3) – Pillar of Fire
Directed by: Robert Townsend
Written by: Lamont Magee

While “Pillar of Fire” does not technically leave much to be desired, I could not help but feel disappointed and underwhelmed. The episode busies itself with Jennifer honing her powers, Anissa’s search for current/missing girlfriend Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy), Dr Stewart’s reluctant return to the ASA to safeguard the pod kids, and Jefferson given the opportunity to get back his principal position at Garfield High. All this while Tobias Whale executes his long germinating master plan. The main premise enveloping this third chapter is that there is an international black market arms race on meta-humans – sadly a plot borrowed from, if not shared by, the latest season of  the animated series Young Justice (on the DC Nation service) and in DC comic’s current Doomsday Clock 12-issue series.

Touching on the Masters of Disaster (aka the “Suicide Squad”), writer Lamont Magee plays it smart by only giving us one member, Marcus Bishop/Shakedown (Hosea Chanchez) for now. With the loss of Khalil, the villains regress to B-movie shallow, generic caricatures befitting one-and-dones and not regulars. I dear say they’re too “comic book-y”. There is genuine effort to give Cutter (Kearran Giovanni) depth with her troubled history with Tobias, which is a step in the right direction. She may be his new leading lady the same way Lady Eve and Tori Whale served prior.

This episode isn’t without its shining moment, when we return, ever briefly, to the civil life of Jefferson Pierce. It asks a very legitimate question, one many well written relatable heroes have; can you find balance between your public identity and your secret one? If not, which needs to be sacrificed to be happy or for the greater good? Ironically, this is a question the show itself has to confront, as most of its time has been on the super-heroic and private lives of the Pierces (with the notable exception of Dr Stewart) and not at their jobs. It’s a tough call given how much Jefferson loves both roles, and that dilemma weighs heavily on his mind. This allows for a greater gamut of emotion and expression for Cress Williams; ones he isn’t always allowed to flex when gallivanting as Black Lightning or lecturing his daughters.

That aside, as the episode careens towards its anticlimactic conclusion, there is little sense of tension, suspense or surprising revelations. Another egregious sin is underwhelming action. There was so much potential to fill the third act with some more confrontations and fight scenes, even if the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless, after this very constructive prelude, the stage is set for the final chapter of “Book of Secrets”.

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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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