Recap: Black Lightning Season 1 Episode 5 – “And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light”

“Daddy Issues” is what the episode should have been titled. The show delved into parental relationships and the effect of fathers (or lack thereof) on their children. This is a commonality whether you’re the hero or the villain. That is one of many things that this show does well is defining and exploring relationship dynamics between individuals.

Tonight, opened with some exciting moments as Black Lightning (Cress Williams) experimented with the new hover functions in his super suit…. He was flying. As he was zipping around, from rooftop to rooftop, he noticed police trying to arrest a young man strung out on the “Green Light” drug. This drug also gives the addict enhanced strength and exacerbates the emotions of primal rage. The young man flung the officers around and just as they pulled their guns…. Black Lightning arrived and saved the young man from being riddled with bullets. In a previous episode, we saw Black Lightning, as his alter ego, Principal, Jefferson Pierce, get attacked by a student also strung out on Green Light. Black Lightning even schooled the police officers by telling them to try Tasers first. The officers politely said, “Yes sir.” I’m sure this felt like a little retribution to Black Lightning after his previous run-ins with the police.

Gambi’s secrets bubbled to the surface when Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III), showed up at the Tailor Shoppe. An armed Gambi snapped “We had a deal, you’re supposed to be gone forever.” Tobias sarcastically replied, “I need a new suit.” The familiarity between these two was palpable. A lot of Tobias’ backstory was revealed in this scene. Evidently, Tobias and his sister, Tori (Edwina Findley Dickerson) were given a serum which keeps them from aging and obviously gives Tobias enhanced strength. My first thought was how is this cat? Gambi also eluded to Tobias that the people who gave them the drug didn’t tell them everything. Intriguing dialogue. I look forward to a payoff from that cryptic statement and for more clues about Tobias’ past to unfold. Also, Tobias didn’t come alone, at his side was his fabulously mute, henchwoman, Syonide (Charlbi Dean Kriek). She’s back, death-stare glam and all.

Evidently Tobias’ sister Tori is the only person that can calm him down and help him to see things rationally. She’s obviously there for strategy and I presume will be instrumental in a coup d’état to oust Lady Eve so that they can eventually rule the city. No surprise that Tobias and Tori come from a dysfunctional family with an abusive father. Although it’s a trope that we’ve seen with most villains, it definitely fits these characters. What didn’t fit for me was the flashback where present-day Tobias interacted with his abusive father in the past. I think it would have served the story better if it was just a straight flashback placed at a different moment in the storyline. Also, the reunion between Tobias, Tori and their elderly father Eldridge (Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson) lacked the impetus I was hoping for.

  

Eldridge was a reprehensible father and human being. He deserved to get his comeuppance for the prejudicial things he said to his albino son and the abuse of his daughter. When Tobias broke Eldridge’s back, I didn’t feel anything. Possibly it was the bad makeup job used to age T.C. Carson or maybe it was because Tobias came across very one-note in this scene. Either way, a touch of vulnerability from Tobias would have added a layer to this moment.

Anissa (Nafessa Williams) is on a journey of discovery about how and why she got powers. As she searches the dark web for conspiracy theories, her younger sister Jennifer (China Anne McClain), burst into the room, as little sisters do. Anissa said “What are doing? Get out.” Jennifer replied, “Why? Are you watching porn?” Great sibling banter between these two. They are believable and their natural chemistry is off the charts. Anissa has also chosen to move back home. I like that choice, we have all the Pierce’s under one super-charged roof. Anissa comes across a story that her grandfather, Alvin Pierce investigated in reference to Freeland children, with special abilities, that have all disappeared. Yes! The plot thickens and a new mystery unfolds.

Speaking of mysteries, who knew that Jennifer could go Bruce Lee on someone at the drop of a dime? She single-handedly took down two bullies in a roller-skating rink. Her kick-ass scene was the joint. It left me salivating for when her powers manifest. I wish I had those moves when I was her age, although fighting off bullies with combat boots was quite effective.

One of the highlights of the show came when Anissa goes to the Freeland Gazette, where her grandfather worked 40 years earlier. She set up a meeting with the editor. And guess who played the editor? None-other-than Antonio Fargas, “Huggy Bear” from Starksy & Hutch. It brought to mind a great Huggy Bear quote from the 70s, “I am not a snitch. I am an urban informer.” In a previous episode, Gambi even mentioned the name Huggy Bear. I never thought we’d get to see him. He may be a little older and little grayer but my man still has mad swagger.

How cool was Anissa’s shopping spree for a superhero costume? Fun, fun, fun. I loved when she chose one and showed up at a storage facility in a wig and full cosplay regalia. The choice of music was awesome as she strutted down the hallway, opened the door and jumped at the sight of a dead rat. She had to convince herself that superheroes aren’t afraid of dead rats…. No worries Anissa, I’m afraid of dead ones and live ones.

I love Lynn (Christine Adams) and Jefferson’s parenting skills but they felt too compliant when the mother and aunt of the girl Jennifer beat up, shows up at the Pierce household accusing Jennifer and demanding retribution. I thought it seemed a bit out of character for them to not at least have heard Jennifer’s side of the story. I do agree she deserved a good grounding for not telling them what happened, but I would have thought Lynn and Jefferson would have defended their daughter, even a little bit.

Jefferson’s aggression really hit a tipping tonight. Jefferson got into a heated discussion with Gambi about Joey Toledo (Eric Mendenhall), a henchman of Tobias Whale, still being in town. If you remember, it was Toledo who assisted Tobias in the fatal beatdown of a mortician in a previous episode. Jefferson put two-and-two together and realized Tobias is also still alive. Gambi tried to hide this fact. But we know at some point his house of secrets will crumble. Jefferson is starting to suspect something. Then he collapses from continual migraine-like headaches throughout the episode. This last migraine leaves him unconscious. Gambi enlists Lynn’s help in treating Black Lightning. Although Lynn and Gambi disagree on whether Jefferson should be Black Lightning more regularly, they do agree on Jefferson’s welfare. Lynn wasn’t able to find anything physically wrong with Jefferson, Gambi deduces it must be something faulty in the suit. Lynn convinces Jefferson to get some rest.

Does the man rest? Of course not. Black Lightning reaches out to Detective Henderson (Damon Gupta) to help him find Joey Toledo. What was strange about the scene is that Black Lightning didn’t have a mask or his costume but appeared to be in the shadows. The special effects and the way the scene was cut together was weak but what I liked is Black Lightning and Henderson working together. Black Lightning gave Henderson a cell phone so they could communicate (Batphone to Commissioner Gordon, anyone?). Henderson finds Toledo and relays his whereabouts to Black Lightning.

Gambi tries to convince Black Lightning to wait until he can adjust the suit to hopefully end the migraines but a determined Black Lightning wasn’t having it. Black Lightning threatens to fricassee Gambi if he doesn’t give him the last component of the super-suit immediately. WHAT-the-WHAT? Gambi quietly complies but we can see the devastation all over his face. Wait until Black Lightning learns that Gambi has been in communication with Tobias… it won’t be pretty. I like the mounting tension between these two.

Black Lightning finds Joey Toledo and demands Tobias’ whereabouts as he thrashes him before succumbing to another migraine. Black Lightning collapses and gets stomped by Toledo who cackles as he hobbles away. I can’t help but think a slight smile will cross Gambi’s face as he watches the surveillance video. I’m sure he will mentally (not verbally) tell Jefferson, “I told you so… fool.”  Pride comes before the fall; a lesson Black Lightning is now well acquainted with.

Although there were some uneven moments, the episode was entertaining.

Let me know your thoughts.

 

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Post Author: Aaron Coleman

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