16th Mar2018

‘Black Lightning 1×08: Equinox: Book of Revelations’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams | Developed by Salim Akil

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It took eight episodes but we finally found out Gambi’s dirty secrets and Jefferson Pierce is not happy. The writers did not hold back in Black Lightning’s latest episode as the focus shifted away from action and more about everyone’s secrets, some as far back as 30 years, coming to light this week. Let’s dig into this week’s revelations.

Anissa is “all in” on becoming a superhero and Jefferson has accepted his role as her mentor as we watch them train together. Anissa may be more powerful than her father but she has not mastered control over her powers like him. Jefferson is training Anissa for difficult situations by including hologram civilians, and is attempting to teach her by using her weaknesses as her strengths. Anissa may not realize the importance of this type of training yet, but in the end, it will make her a better superhero. The interaction between Jefferson and his daughter training together again shows how tight of a bond this family has with each other and allows for a fun dynamic when they will eventually team-up to fight crime.

If you thought Freeland would be happy with Lady Eve’s death, you could not be further from the truth. Citizens are upset regarding the death of the “Queen of Freeland” and are now resentful of the man framed for her murder, Black Lightning. Lady Eve may have been the leader of the criminal enterprise of Freeland but either the citizens did not know or they felt her contributions to the community were more important than her crimes. It is an interesting take on the death of a villain as audiences usually only see a villain as the criminal and not someone helping the community through personal endeavors.

Gambi meets with one of his past associates from the government agency, ASA, and we learn a bounty has been placed on Black Lightning because of Lady Eve’s death. Gambi has been protecting Lightning for years, a fact that the government agent, Martin Proctor, is unaware of and something Gambi wants to keep hidden. Proctor puts Gambi in charge of finding Lightning and killing him and if you thought Gambi was in a difficult situation before, this new task will make it even more difficult.

Since Black Lightning has a bounty on him, Jefferson and Anissa make like the Scooby Doo gang and begin to investigate who was actually responsible for Lady Eve’s death in their everyday disguises. Anissa confirms the burn marks on the bodies at the morgue do not match the burn marks that would be made by a true lightning strike, thus confirming Black Lightning did not kill Lady Eve. After a little more detective work, Jefferson and Anissa end up in the woods, discovering the body of the true murderer of Lady Eve and the nuclear gun used to murder her. Yep, he had a gun using nuclear power.

Jefferson calls Detective Henderson to report the find and clear Black Lightning’s name but instead of the police showing up, an unknown dirty cop shows up to get rid of the evidence. Jefferson quietly moves in to get a closer look at the dirty cop and at least Anissa has the good sense nothing good can come from the cop playing with a nuclear gun. Anissa pushes Jefferson out of the way just before the gun explodes, evaporating the unknown red shirt. After his near-death experience, Jefferson realizes that Anissa’s training is paying off and he may actually need a partner to keep him more focused. I enjoyed the scenes between Anissa and her father this week and appreciated watching them use their intelligence this week as opposed their superpowers to solve the mystery of Lady Eve’s murderer.

In the weird segments of the week, LaLa, like the audience, is still trying to grasp how he cheated death and not even a visit to his old club helps with the answers. This version of the LaLa character is much different from the previous incarnation as he is thinking more and reacting less. No longer is LaLa murdering his henchmen for talking out of turn; instead, he is seeking their assistance on learning what is actually happening to him. On a side note, it may not be the best choice moving forward for LaLa to talk to an unseen Lawanda in the back of the car while being driven home by his henchmen. I’ll forgive him this time though as LaLa has been through a lot recently.

Lynn, after discovering the connection between Jefferson’s father, Greenlight and the Freeland Experiments, confronts Gambi about his secretive past. Gambi can no longer hide behind his poker face and Lynn realizes the truth about Gambi and his reason for moving to Freeland 30 years ago. It is an emotional scene, as Lynn knows this will wreck Jefferson, as Gambi has been his father figure ever since Jefferson’s father, Alvin, passed away.

Once Jefferson learns the truth from Gambi, he feels his last 30 years have been nothing but deception from Gambi and as a result, advises Gambi to never contact him. Who know what this means going forward but it should provide for some interesting developments in Freeland.

One Good Thing:

  • James Remar is outstanding in this episode. The writers slowly expanded the influence Gambi has over the Lightning universe with each passing episode and actor James Remar is a huge part of why the character, along with Lynn, is the emotional centerpiece of the series. The emotional baggage weighing down Gambi shines through with Remar’s facial expressions, his quiet reserve and his appearance at the church this week allows the audience to hate Gambi for his past but also understand him for the cross he bears taking care of the Pierce family.



One Bad Thing:

  • No Whale. Tobias Whale is a complex villain and this week’s episode suffered with his absence. Marvin Jones III commands the screen and has become one of the best parts of the series. Without Whale causing havoc this week, the episode felt it was missing something that makes the show “must watch” television.

What We Learned:

  • Lynn may be accepting of her superhero family but she is still struggling. I appreciate Lynn is supportive of her ex-husband training their daughter but that does not make it easy for Lynn to listen to Jefferson and Anissa’s superhero stories. Lynn is worried about Anissa, despite knowing she is safe with Jefferson and it is going to be even more difficult once Lynn learns Jennifer has powers too! The show will soon have a chance to dig into Lynn’s emotions, as how would you react if you were the only person in your family not to have superpowers?
  • Lady Eve was responsible for the Freeland Experiments. Proctor and Gambi’s discussion provided evidence 30 years ago, the government wanted to “calm” aka “control” the city of Freeland from civil unrest and began to administer the experiments that Anissa learned about a few weeks ago. The side effect of the experiments caused meta-humans to form and as a result, Lady Eve and Gambi remained in Freeland to clean up the mess and monitor any situation that may arise from the experiments. We now have confirmation the government was responsible for the drug that would eventually evolve into Greenlight, and is now becoming an epidemic in Freeland.
  • Jennifer realizes she has powers. Jennifer has been pushed to the back of the line in the Pierce family lately as Jefferson and Anissa have been training and Lynn is working on research regarding the Freeland Experiments but that is going to change soon. Jennifer, after a heightened emotional state, burns her phone and the papers she is holding and begins to realize she might be a meta-human. Jennifer spends the rest of the episode trying to make sense of her powers before finally confiding in her best friend and sister, Anissa. I am picturing next season as Lynn being the intelligence officer of Team Pierce as Jefferson, Anissa and Jennifer are out fighting crime. Who needs the Fantastic Four, as the Pierce family will be the first superhero family on television!

Some Questions:

  • What is going on with LaLa? So is Lawanda a spirit, a figment of LaLa’s imagination or a meta-human because at this point, I have no idea what is going on. This much is true; no one can see Lawanda except LaLa as evident by LaLa’s conversation in the car ride to his house. LaLa’s henchmen think LaLa is going crazy despite LaLa thinking Lawanda is reaching out to him and holding deep conversations about his psyche. Even more confusion is added at the end of the episode when LaLa is kissing Lawanda in the shower until she turns to dust and returns to the tattoo of herself on LaLa’s chest. Seriously, what is going on?
  • How will Jefferson and Lynn ever truly trust Gambi? After all the secrets and lies from the last 30 years, how will Jefferson and Lynn ever believe anything Gambi says again? I am hoping Gambi does not make the ultimate sacrifice at the end of the season and rides off into the sunset but at this point, I’m not sure how the series will resolve the trust issue with Gambi and Jefferson. Heck, Peter Gambi is not even his real name; it is Peter Esposito.

This Episode’s Grade: B+ (Very Good)

Black Lightning delivers an episode with nearly no action and the episode is still one of the better of the series so far. The only thing weighing this episode down is the LaLa situation. It is not a jab at the actor William Catlett; my concern is the introduction of mystical elements in a street-level superhero show. Don’t believe me? Check out Daredevil season two with the introduction of Elektra and the Hand. Besides LaLa’s journey, this episode reveals the majority of the answers to the questions the audience has been asking and sets the foundation for season two.
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You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here.
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