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Review-Black Lightning S3: EP 9/The Book of Resistance: Chapter Four – Earth Crisis

Black Lightning -- "The Book of Resistance: Chapter Four: Earth Crisis" -- Image Number: BLK309a_0265r.jpg -- Pictured: China Anne McClain as Lightning -- Photo: Josh Stringer/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Book of Resistance: Chapter Four – Earth Crisis

Directed by: Tasha Smith

Written by: Lamont Magee

A loose tie-in to the epic “Arrowverse” crossover event titled “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, I was quite apprehensive as to how intrusive said event would be on “Black Lightning” given that it exists independent of the broader Arrowverse, and it has been going on a good stride so far with “Book of Resistance”. Fortunately, the poly-cosmic adventure against the Anti-Monitor and the survival of all reality was not as invasive as I had initially feared. Another welcomed surprise is that this entire episode is Jennifer-centric. It is as if Lamont Magee was overcompensating for all the negligence Jennifer has suffered this season. To Magee’s credit, the way Jennifer is tackled here, with “Crisis” operating as an all-too-convenient plot device, delivers one of the most emotionally impactful episodes this season. When under the right scribe China Anne McClain’s character certainly shines and even overshadows her peers sometimes, like the masterful Khalil eloping arc in season two.

With Freeland overcastted by an ominous crimson sky, Lightning’s powers “malfunction” for a lack of a better word. Already voicing her conflicting feelings and emotions towards Odell and her father, Jennifer is stuck in a limbo of whose path to follow as she continues to search for her own independent identity. In almost a Twilight Zone manner, Jennifer is gifted a glimpse of how her life could have turned out either way.

One is the angelic martyr “Gen” representing her compassionate side, and her desire to live a normal life. The other is the violently rebellious “Jinn”, who is an ASA zealot drunk on her own power. Both contrasting extremes are visually illustrated by the “light” and “dark” clothing schemes of the two versions. Regardless of which path “Jennifer” takes, the outcome is fundamentally the same, albeit via divergent causes. Jennifer sees the flaws in both narratives and calls both doppelgangers out on their failings. She thus learns a valuable lesson of how her life could turn out if she does not find her own balance. Again, props to McClain as she not only has a plethora of emotions to exhibit and convey – and masterfully so – but she also has to play two other similar, yet distinct characters in Gen and Jinn.

This week’s episode still makes allowances for other sub-plots, particularly Dr Stewart “breaking bad”. Jefferson is confronted with the gravity of a war; that being inevitable casualties, collateral damage, and killing the enemy that may come as the ASA preps retaliation on the Resistance. This episode also marks the return of the maniacally devious Agent Odell after his brief hiatus.

“Earth Crisis” could have easily been titled “Identity Crisis” given how much of it revolves around Jennifer evaluating herself and coming out better for it. It is certainly one of the best, if not the best season three episode thus far. On retrospect, it’s flawless in its overall execution. Outside of that, it is hard to grade this epoch with its now coagulating connect to the other Arrowverse shows. Depending on your familiarity or lack thereof with the ongoing crossover, you may be scratching your head over this strange out-of-the-blue “crimson skies” non-sense. The ambitious cliffhanger ending notwithstanding, “Earth Crisis” is not overwhelmingly convoluted with strange visitors from other (parallel) worlds and gives China the much needed attention her character deserves.

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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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