18th Oct2018

‘Black Lightning 2×02: Black Jesus Blues’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, James Remar, Marvin Jones III, Damon Gupton | Developed by Salim Akil

black-lightning-season-2

Black Lightning’s second episode of the season starts with an intense game of Chess as Whale is blaming Painkiller for not protecting Syonide from her attack last week. Whale is in no mood for excuses and after every poor move, Painkiller is beaten. Needless to say whatever “moral compass” Syonide provided Whale, is now officially gone.

Meanwhile the victims of the Freeland experiments are beginning to wake up from the pods and are using their powers in attempts to free themselves from government control. Lynn attempts to calm the escaped victim but to no avail as the unknown female victim knocks down a brick wall and escapes to the streets. After reviewing the security footage, Gambi identifies the escaped victim as Wendy, a former nursing student enabled with the power of telekinesis.
Dr. Napier stops by the school to request Jefferson’s help in introducing and “accepting” his replacement, Mike Lowery, a white man that may not be accepted by the community. The school board is worried Jefferson will undermine the new principal and in return, the community and the parents will not accept the new principal in a primarily African-American school. Tensions rise as Napier reminds Jefferson it’s Jefferson’s fault that he wasn’t there to protect the school and now he has to make amends for it. Townsend, as Dr. Napier, provides another solid performance in this episode.

Later, Jefferson stays true to the world and announces his resignation to the faculty and offers his support to the new principal, much to the staff’s disapproval. Jefferson’s follow up speech to his students announcing his resignation doesn’t go over well either but all is not lost as Jefferson has agreed to stay at the school in a teaching role. In a touching tribute to their beloved principal, the students respond by reciting Jefferson’s famous mantra, “Where’s the future? Right here!”

Gambi, who hasn’t been seen much this season, is busy tracking meta-human Wendy in Freeland and discovers Wendy is visiting her old childhood locations, including the mall, the rec center, her grandparents’ house, and her childhood best friend’s apartment building. This leads to Jefferson and Anissa to suit up and patrol the city for Wendy. Jennifer receives a surprise appearance by her former boyfriend, Kahlil, aka Painkiller, and despite pushing him off the roof of her house, he returns and confesses his love for her. Jennifer refuses to admit she still have feelings for him and nearly unleashes her own powers on him but luckily stops them in time for Khalil not to notice.

Black Lightning and Thunder find the destruction left behind by Wendy and after Thunder saves a few citizens, she stops to take in the praise of the gathering crowd. After Black Lightning disciplines Thunder for soaking up the appreciation, Thunder tells her father to get with the times and being a superhero is just as much about community involvement as it is about stopping the villains.

Back at home, the Pierce family invites Issa over to dinner and leaves me wondering, why did Lynn think it was a good idea to invite an unstable meta-human for a family dinner? Issa’s powers to make the truth come out makes for some interesting dinner conversations as the Pierce family’s inner thoughts are played out over the kitchen table. After dinner, Issa joins Jennifer on the rooftop and as long as Issa doesn’t look at the person, his powers won’t affect them. The seeds are planted for a future relationship between the two, which should make for an interesting reaction from Khalil.

Black Lightning, with assistance from Gambi’s tracking skills, finds Wendy and after a brief confrontation, offers Wendy assistance with Lynn instead of jail. Wendy’s decision to rejoin the pod people begins another argument between Anissa and her father, resulting in her father getting upset about Anissa’s overconfidence in the field. The cracks are beginning to show in this superhero family.

One Good Thing:

  • Anissa is mentoring Jennifer. The dynamic between Jefferson and Lynn’s daughters has always been a fun aspect to the series and since Jennifer has discovered her powers, her older sister Anissa has begun to mentor her. The relationship between the sisters is very organic and their ups and downs has really made the sisters more realistic than most siblings on television. Jennifer is slowly starting to realize that her powers may be blessing and not a curse, thanks to her big sister’s advice.

One Bad Thing:

  • Whale kills his former assistant. Whale pays a visit to his former right-hand assistant, Marcellus, who is enjoying a comfortable lifestyle in an upscale retirement home. Whale informs Marcellus of the future of the crime business, meta-humans, and after a trip down memory lane focused on Jefferson’s father, Whale kills Marcellus, as all loose ends must be tied up. To be honest, the reason why Marcellus is a loose end is never fully explained as Marcellus is in a retirement home and is no longer active in the crime syndicate. The direction of the Whale character is a mystery this season and here’s hoping they stabilize the character soon as he was one of the best parts of the first season.

What We Learned:

  • Agent Odell is attempting to capture all the Greenlight Babies. Agent Odell has a new mission of finding all the Greenlight Babies, aka the overdose victims that have risen from the dead, and in a case of “be careful what you wish for”, Lynn, is placed in charge of the research. Lynn soon realizes the latest resurrection victim, Issa, has the power to cause people speak what they truly are thinking, something that scares his loved ones and isolates him more than he already was.
  • Anissa is secretly dating a popular musician named Zoe B. It’s nice to see Anissa have a personal side to her again as she has been consumed with her superhero side for far too long. Just like her prior relationships, Anissa is playing this one close to her vest and not even her sister knows about her musician friend. It will be interesting going forward if Anissa’s girlfriend will be the typical significant other in trouble troupe in most superhero scenarios or if the writers can make her girlfriend have a deeper role in Anissa’s life.
  • Issa is on borrowed time. Lynn discovers the Greenlight Babies, after being resurrected, are on borrowed time and if no cure is found, will die soon. Issa decides he rather spend the last days of his life with his family instead of being a guinea pig. Unknown to Issa though, he still is a guinea pig as Lynn actually let him go in order to study him in a natural environment rather than a laboratory.

This Episode’s Grade: C+ (Average)

The second episode of the new season continues to lay the seeds for a bigger story but unlike the first season, there really hasn’t been a “wow” moment yet.
The storyline of Issa has potential and the dynamic of the Pierce family is still going strong but after two episodes, we are no closer to seeing what the overall storyline will be this season. After Syonide’s death, Whale is deciding to go at it alone but there are no hints at what his plan really is and there is no urgency this season. I’m secure in stating this will all change soon as we are only two episodes into the season but as of now Black Lightning is just drifting without purpose.

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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