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Review-Black Lightning S3: EP10 / The Book of Markovia (Chapter One) – Blessings and Curses Reborn”

Directed By: Eric Laneuville

Written By: J Allen Brown

Going into the first episode post “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, “Black Lightning” thankfully comes out the other end wholly unscathed and unchanged – something that cannot really be said for the other CW/DC shows. Fret not, no catching up, re-acclimating or research required to jump right back into the foray after the mid-season break.

Taking place seemingly minutes, if not hours, “before” the last episode, Jefferson (Cress Williams) is still wrapping his head around his little multi-versal romp to check in on the family. Only Jefferson and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) are aware of the “past” continuity, but comically, Jefferson’s exuberance to share his zany (network obligatory) experience is quickly shot down so we can get back to business.

The first half of the episode occupies itself with the startling revelation made by both Jennifer and Jefferson of Lynn’s (Christine Adams) crippling addiction. She is now a broken and desperate woman, devolved from the smart, powerful and compassionate person she was originally. Christine’s powerful performance really sells how her dependence on the drugs has warped her perception of her family and dictate her woeful actions. The interplay especially between Cress and Christine certainly pulls no punches in its somberness. What’s more, Jefferson is caught between chasing after her or rallying with the resistance, leading to a tough decision that leaves Dr Stewart in the wind as appetizing fodder for further episodes.

The second half of the episode focuses on said resistance assault on the Green Light detainment center. Taking critical losses since his absence, evil Agent O’dell (Bill Duke) has opted to ship the imprisoned Green Lighters to his infamous black site. As superficial as this plot may seem, Brown utilizes it to its fullest in exploring the complicated relationship and friction between Jefferson and Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and their insecurities. Complimented by both Cress and Nafessa’s performance, their mutually respectful “disagreements” feel all the more organic and genuine.

It seems that the show’s writers have for all intents and purposes abandoned Anissa’s “Thunder” persona for their original “Black Bird” identity. Straying from established continuity of the source material isn’t anything new, just bitter sweet that we did not get to spend a long time with the father-daughter duo.

Interspersed between these two events is the re-introduction of Technocrat/Baron (Christopher Emmanuel), the deus ex machina from a few episodes ago. Fully utilizing his quirky “techno-pathy”, Baron tracks down Gambi and pretty much becomes his impromptu apprentice. Their interaction offers a not-so-subtle commentary on millennia addiction to technology and its (potential) effects on authentic human connections. I’m not too sure what this may entail for James Remar’s character in the foreseeable future, or how big of a role Christopher will eventually play. There have been a few promising additions to the tertiary cast in the series that have sadly fallen to the wayside.

Meanwhile, Jennifer finds herself teaming up with suave new love-interest geomancer Brandon (Jahking Guillory), as she plans to not only betray O’dell, but kill him at all costs. This goes as well as could be expected. The two still have a way to go if it’s going to be just as good, if not better than Khalil and Jennifer.

In summary, while from start to finish “Blessings and Curses Reborn” seems to be taking stock and doing a head count to make sure everything and everyone is where and who they’re supposed to be, I find J Allen Brown’s praiseworthy script to be opportunistic, in the sense that at every available moment something meaningful is added or explored rather than a simple stalling recap. Everyone gets to flex their acting chops, bringing their A-game. Chapter One of “Book of Markovia”, very light on the “Markovia”, is indeed packed, but not bloated, fast-paced but not breakneck. My only regret is the absence of Tobias, Khalil and Lala; but there are plenty of more episodes down the road.

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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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