05th Apr2018

‘Black Lightning 1×11: The Book of Crucifixion’ Review

by Jason Brigger

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

BL-101-1

Leave it to the writers of Black Lightning to name the episode after Easter weekend The Book of Crucifixion and draw parallels to the Easter story in the Bible as Jefferson is unjustly arrested by people paid off by the government.

For the second week in a row, the episode begins with Black Lightning and Thunder taking down ASA soldiers as they continue investigating warehouses around the city as our heroes search for the missing meta-humans. They don’t find the victims but they do find a large amount of weapons the ASA is funneling to the unsavory characters of Freeland and Lightning decides to hurt ASA in the pocketbook by destroying the ASA arsenal.

Vice-principal Kara Fowdy is busy as well as she is moving the meta-humans around the city, which is easier when they are in state of suspended animation, to stay one-step ahead of Black Lightning. She is still struggling with the idea that Jefferson Pierce, her boss, is Black Lightning but under pressure by the ASA, Fowdy places a hit on Jefferson and recruits dirty cops in Freeland to complete the mission.

Instead of making Jefferson a martyr and assassinating him right away, Deputy Chief Cayman and his band of dirty cops frame Jefferson when they “find” the drug Greenlight in Jefferson’s car on school property. The ASA wants to discredit Jefferson arresting him in front of his students will give them the opportunity to stage his murder (possibly as a suicide) and blame it on the “stress” of being a drug dealer. It’s a well thought out plan made by Fowdy, the ASA and Cayman and makes the audience itching for the day when Black Lightning brings the pain down on the ASA.

The scene of Jefferson’s arrest at the school as he is led out in front of his students is well done and shows the affection his students have for their principal. Travon, a student Jefferson has taken under his wing, unites the student body in an attempt to stop the police from taking their principal but Jefferson, showing the respect he has on the students, talks the students down to avoid the situation from getting worse. Jefferson also advises his daughters to “remain calm” and fight another day, advice that solidifies the elder Pierce understanding of the importance of playing the long game in this battle and something his daughters may not always realize.

Black Lightning does an amazing job of paralleling real world issues in a fictional universe and as shown when Jefferson experiences the humiliation and abuse of being booked into the jail. A few extra pushes from the dirty cops, a few unnecessary body punches, and being forced to undress as the guard searches his body for contraband relays the emotionally draining experience of being arrested. Seriously, can we please hurry up to the season finale so the dirty cops can finally get their penance?

Gambi and Anissa form a plan to free Jefferson by setting out to prove to the ASA and the public that Jefferson is not Black Lightning. Gambi designs a program in which a hologram of Black Lightning is seen running the streets with Anissa, dressed as Thunder, and attempting to stop a holographic runaway van. The ploy works as the crowds that gathered on the streets have no idea it is not the real Black Lightning, and cheer on their heroes as the local television crews film the antics. Fowdy sees this on television and is now even more confused about Jefferson and her role with the ASA.

Henderson is not fully convinced Jefferson is innocent but feels something suspicious is definitely happening with the police force. Henderson links Jefferson to LaLa and wonders if the kidnapping of Anissa and Jennifer is a result of a drug deal gone wrong. After Jefferson advises Henderson the arrest is one big setup, Cayman stops the interrogation due to a government agency wanting to move Jefferson to an unknown location due to a matter of national security. Henderson knows Cayman is dirty but with Jefferson’s past affiliations, he is not fully convinced Jefferson is as innocent as he states.

Through local news reports, the audience learns the community is split on Jefferson’s guilt but one person that is not conflicted is his ex-wife, Lynn. Not only is she interviewing the best defense attorneys in town but also is the support system for her daughter, Jennifer. The differences between how Jennifer reacts to her father’s arrest, scared and emotional (which is perfectly understandable), and Anissa’s reaction, anger and ready to break into the police department, showcases that both sisters have not emotionally grasped the use of their powers.

Henderson is given the spotlight this week after he calls in a “lifetime of favors” and connects a dirty cop, Detective Glennon, to several bribes over the years. Henderson advises Glennon he isn’t interested in him but wants Cayman. Glennon, after being presented with the evidence, decides it is in the best interest of his family to start talking to Henderson. After Glennon admits to planting evidence, Jefferson is released from jail and is saved at the last minute from being taken to an unknown government site. The audience gets more satisfaction when Henderson finally has enough evidence to arrest Cayman and the look of anger on Cayman’s face is some nice satisfaction after an emotional episode.

One Good Thing;

  • Gambi is becoming a mentor to Anissa. The last few weeks has shown Anissa’s trust in Gambi grow and she now actively seeks out advice from Gambi. Gambi, still getting a cold shoulder from Jefferson, decides if he cannot help the elder Pierce family member, he will help the newest superhero in the family. I am enjoying the relationship between Anissa and Gambi and appreciate how the series is slowly building their trust. The series is not rushing her training and while she is suspicious of Gambi’s past, she trusts him enough to seek him out for assistance when Jefferson is arrested and what the next steps should be for the Pierce family.

One Bad Thing;

  • Nothing. We are now at two weeks in a row where I could not find a negative. My pessimistic nature is not sure how to handle all the positivity the last two weeks.

What We Learned:

  • Jefferson’s relationship with Gambi is strained but not broken. Anissa calls out Jefferson on the tension between Gambi and her father but at least Jefferson admits they can all work together. Their friendship may take a while to heal but after Gambi saves the day with his holographic Black Lightning stunt, Jefferson realizes Gambi has nothing but his best interests for the Pierce family.
  • Detective Henderson got a promotion. After arresting Cayman and exposing widespread corruption in the police force, Henderson was promoted to police chief. How this affects the relationship between Henderson and Black Lightning remains to be seen but it allows several different storylines for the future of the series.

This Episode’s Grade: A (Amazing)

This week’s episode of Black Lightning deviates from the rest of the season by focusing much of the attention on the reaction to the Pierce family when the patriarch is not around to lend his guidance. I enjoyed the interactions of Anissa and Gambi working together, Lynn being the support system for a struggling Jennifer and even Henderson is finally given more to do this week as he works to find out the truth about Jefferson and the dirty cops. Overall, another strong episode as we race to the season finale in two weeks.

Side note, Black Lightning has been renewed for a second season so it looks like I will be busy on Tuesdays for another year.
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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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