Review-Black Lightning, S2, EP 9/ The Book of Rebellion (Chapter 2) – Gift of the Magi

Written by Fabian Wood

December 11, 2018

Episode 9: The Book of Rebellion (Chapter 2) – Gift of the Magi
Directed by: Benny Boom
Written by: Adam Giaudrone

After the sub-par detourthat was Book of Blood, Book of Rebellion is shaping up to be my favorite“volume” of season two so far. Narrowly escaping both Tobias’ assassin, theknife-happy Cutter, and the dynamic duo of Black Lightning and Thunder,Jennifer and Khalil take a much needed respite from being on the lam.Absolutely no one gives a bad performance here. Even Kearran Giovanni who playsCutter is shaping up to fill Syonide’s shoes nicely, in her doggedTerminator-eqsue manhunt for the two love birds. The episode also has some niceclose calls to add to the tension of the chase.

We see Jefferson (CressWilliams) begin to unravel, as desperation sets in finding Jennifer. Thankfully he has Gambi and Anissa by his side. Meanwhile, Dr. Steward goes on a side-mission of her own, assuming a purpose and role in finding her daughter separate from the other Pierces. It is through this mini “side quest” that we learn more about Khalil and his family. His mother echoes a lot of the sentiments of other real world African-American mothers who have lost sons, daughters, and husbands to gang violence and drugs, and the emotional toll of self-loathing and resentment it takes on them. That’s what makes “Black Lightning” resonate so well, that in the midst of all the superhero fictional antics, it is talking about reality, Black reality. It would have been easy to have the Payne’s be a reverse Pierce family, but it gladly avoids that clichéin favor of this poignant message.

The episode also doubles down on that connection between disenfranchised Blacks and the allure of the gang culture with another sub-plot involving Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III). My prayers have been answered, and we actually see the cogs in Tobias’ schemes through devilish temptations and ensnaring appeal. Feigning empathy to seduce his victims in the same manner he caught Khalil, Whale’s sly, virtually flawless tactics gives credence to him as a respectable crime boss; a cut above his contemporaries. At the same time, this shows the consequences ofinstitutionalized racism, and how sophisticated gangs benefit and thrive off ofit. Not that these revelations are anything new or astonishing, but it’snevertheless appreciated that it is reverently portrayed in this medium withoutbeing shamelessly glorified or outright demonized.

Another highligh tcontinues to be China’s exemplary performance as Jennifer. Her resourcefulnessand devotion to Khalil shine through this episode, which consequently representher rejection of her own loving family. Her relationship with them may beirreconcilable by this point.

Focused and well-paced, with two enrapturing cupid-struck protagonists, “Gift of the Magi” also gives a tactful social message without being heavy-handed amidst the personal drama ofthe Pierces. Characters artfully carry the story and voice of awareness withoutham-fisted exposition or exaggerations. There is really nothing more that canbe said about Book of Rebellion, other than the hope it gives a satisfyingconclusion to the arc as newer, and perhaps even deadlier, trials andtribulations lie ahead as we approach the finale.


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.

Article Topics: Black Lightning

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