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Review-Black Lightning, S2, EP 15/ The Book of the Apocalypse (Chapter 1) – The Alpha

Black Lightning - "The Book of the Apocalypse: Chapter One: The Alpha" Photo: Bob Mahoney/The CW -© 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

Episode 15: The Book of the Apocalypse (Chapter 1) – The Alpha
Directed by: Salim Akil
Written by: Jan Nash

As the penultimate episode of season 2, “The Alpha” leaves much to be desired, especially when compared to its superior predecessor in season one. One of its major faux paus is the opening scene with “Cape Guy” (a tragic rendition of Damon Wayans’ “Blankman”). Going nowhere and being nothing more than background noise rather than a substantial sub-plot or avenue for social commentary, this moment is quickly forgotten by the second half without even a second thought. Its inclusion therefore begs justification, as it is so woefully unexploited, adding nothing of substance to the episode itself, and could have easily been the crux – or half crux – of an episode all to itself.

The introduction of three new Masters of Disaster is also underwhelming and underutilized. With only Joe / Heatstroke (Esteban Cueto) getting the spotlight and the lion’s share of screen time amongst his compatriots. The potential for the inevitable confrontation with Black Lightning could have been epic – on the level of Superman II where Superman had to go against Zod, Ursa and Non (a triple threat) on the streets of Metropolis, but with better writing – had all four MODs been allowed to flex their nefarious muscles and destructive powers.

“The Alpha” however is not without its pros. The interplay between Jefferson and Jennifer about superhero ethics shows the stark difference between Jen and Anissa; almost in a Dick Grayson (respectful partner/equal) / Jason Todd (angry/rebellious lone wolf) kind of way. There is a moment of bright fatherhood, juxtaposed to the fear of the road Jennifer is hell-bent on traveling that may see father and daughter come to verbal, and even physical, blows down the line. From beginning to end, this is the main thread of “The Alpha”.

The sub-plots are also worth mentioning in a positive light, as Cutter (Kearran Giovanni) has officially inherited her role as Whale’s right hand woman, again in the same vein as Syonide and Tori Whale before her. She has finally become a fleshed out character. To my surprise the seeds of a power struggle seem to been taking between her and Dr Helga Jace (Jennifer Riker) which is something of a unique and intriguing dynamic I won’t might seeing nurtured going forward – should both survive the finale.

Another minor sub-plot is again with pod kid Wendy Hernandez (Madison Bailey) aka “Windy”. Now “Windy” has been teased very early this season and has become more prominent as of late. Given her elemental power of aero-kinesis, it’s a safe bet she will have some role to play either with or against the other element-based Masters of Disaster. It is clear she is at a vulnerable stage in her development that she could go either way by the end of season two.

More unfortunately, the final few minutes left me feeling cheated. Opening up like a slasher/horror on Tobias’ hideout, this only brought back memories of the awesome takedown of the ASA secret headquarters by Tobias’ crew at the end of season one, and how disappointed I was at the incursion on the ASA research lab by Shakedown and Cutter a few episodes ago. Needless to say its cut short before it gets any good. And I won’t spoil the last shot that had me shaking my head at how they unveiled that long awaited moment.

“The Alpha” does not feel like a penultimate episode. Lacking in tangible, imminent stakes, it fails to measure up to season one’s tenser and action-packed second-last episode. It feels like a mundane step back rather than a progressive step forward for the season. The wasted moments also drag my enjoyment of this episode down further; and the haphazard and cobbled way players are drawn together for the final showdown next week is almost devoid of plausible cohesion. Here’s hoping “The Omega” goes big, if only to make up for “The Alpha”, before going home to recharge.

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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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