01st Nov2018

‘Black Lightning 2×04: Translucent Freak’ 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

After the first “good” episode of the season last week, Black Lightning returns this week with another solid episode… The Pierce family is enjoying a nice, normal event in the life of their daughter, Jennifer’s homecoming dance. The tranquility is interrupted by Khalil/Painkiller, invades the Pierce residence and after Khalil subdues the entire Pierce family, minus Jennifer, a fight breaks out with Jennifer holding her own against him. Unfortunately the whole scene is nothing more than an imaginary training exercise from Perenna in an attempt to get Jennifer to control her emotions and her powers. That’s a shame too because I liked the idea of Khalil taking the fight to the Pierce family.

After being arrested last week, Tobias Whale finds himself being interrogated at the Freeland police station by Detective Henderson. Whale is cool and relaxed while Henderson attempts to break him and the frustration that seeps through in Henderson’s questioning just encourages the arrogance of Whale. Henderson understands there is little evidence linking Whale to the murder of the dirty cop a few episodes ago and without a confession, Henderson will eventually have to let Whale walk away.
Gambi lets Jefferson in on Anissa’s extracurricular activities of robbing mobsters in order to assist Reverend Holt in keeping the clinic open and helping the community. Anissa’s Robin Hood plan does not sit well with her father and after an argument involving Jefferson stating the “my house, my rules” cliché, Anissa decides to move in with Gambi and do the superhero thing her way.

Detective Henderson provides an update on Whale, who is released at the end of the episode, to Jefferson and not wanting Whale to be freed, Jefferson pleads with Henderson to charge Whale with the murder of Jefferson’s father. Jefferson lets the secret out that as a child, he witnessed Whale snap his father’s neck. Henderson is shocked Jefferson has another secret that he didn’t know about but Henderson refuses to charge Whale as not only would it be Jefferson’s word versus Whale’s word, Henderson doesn’t want the identity of Black Lightning being released to the world. It took four episodes but Gambi finally has something to do! Gambi is secretly taking care of ASA agent (and meta-human) Kara Fowdy. Gambi took Fowdy in last episode as she showed up at his door, knowing Gambi is the only one that could help after she took a harpoon spear to the stomach. The anger Fowdy has towards Gambi feels a little forced and is the one storyline that did not flow this week.

Times are changing at Garfield High School and not for the better. Jefferson breaks up a fist fight between two students and after a traditional Jefferson speech, the two students shake hands and apologize. Unfortunately Principal Lowry learns of the fight and expels the student who threw the first punch while suspending the second student, a discipline that is much different than the old regime. Its apparent Principal Lowry is running the school differently than Jefferson did and the “zero tolerance” rule doesn’t sit well with Jefferson or the students.

Whale is visited in jail by Steve Conners (Joshua Mikel), a drug kingpin who was the robbery victim of Anissa’s Robin Hood antics and is looking for revenge. Conners understands Freeland is Whale’s city and asks for, and receives, permission from Whale to wage a war on superheroes of the city. If Anissa thought her carefree robbing wouldn’t have consequences, she was vastly mistaken. I appreciate the subtle things in Black Lightning, including the respect Whale receives from fellow criminals asking if they can do business in his city.

After a tough day at school and after Jennifer is upset at her father for Anissa moving out, Jefferson seeks comfort in Lynn. Unfortunately Lynn is having a rough day as well after losing another patient but she still has the energy to motivate Jefferson in taking back his school from Principal Lowry. Gambi receives a tip that Conners recruited a hired gun to attack the clinic Anissa saved with the drug money. Anissa asks for her father’s help and after a little heart to heart talk, and maybe because Jefferson just needed a “win” that day, he agrees to help her protect the clinic. After noticing a woman that was once pregnant heading into the clinic is no longer pregnant when she exits the building, Black Lightning and Thunder search the clinic and locate and defuse the bombs, thus saving the day and giving Jefferson a much needed win.

There’s something fun about watching the father/daughter duo of Black Lightning and Thunder working together and how the series incorporates great background music, in this case We Want the Funk, while still producing quality action scenes. The other positive is that Gambi actually gets to show off his fighting skills in an attempt to take down the hired gun and as discussed earlier, the more Gambi, the better! The season continues the trend of surprising deaths as Kara Fowdy passes away from her wounds but not before telling Gambi the location of Proctor’s secretive case that everyone is looking for this season. The character of Fowdy was solid last season but it feels the character was not given enough time to show her true potential.

The episode ends with a “why would you do that?” as Jennifer meets in secret with Khalil while across town, Whale throws himself a party and declares himself back in control as the 100 gang cheers his name.

One Good Thing:

  • Whale’s in control. My favorite scene of the episode is the interrogation between Detective Henderson and Whale, a scene played masterfully by actor Marvin Jones III. The hard edge taken by Henderson seems to have no effect on Whale and Whale’s quick-witted responses to the interrogation questions make for a very enjoyable exchange between two characters we don’t see interact much on the series. The arrogance and smugness Jones delivers makes Whale one of the highlights each week.

One Bad Thing:

  • Not enough Perenna. After introducing Perenna last week as Jennifer’s mentor, the idea that Perenna would have a major role this season. Outside of the opening scene, Perenna is not seen again in the episode. I’m hoping Perenna is given more of a prominent role as the season continues as the training aspect could be an interesting storyline.

What We Learned:

  • Anissa finds out Jennifer is still in contact with Khalil. Anissa warns Jennifer to stay away from Khalil as whatever mental issues Jennifer is going through at this time, Khalil is not the answer. Jennifer agrees as stated above, that promise is broken quickly. If Khalil can sway Jennifer to his side, it will be interesting to see the repercussions that decision makes on the Pierce family going forward.
  • Doctor Jace has no moral compass. We start to learn that Lynn’s new assistant/criminal/doctor is willing to sacrifice the pod people in order to gain more data. After “waking up” a pod person, their power is maxed out, resulting in death of the pod person. When Jace is questioned by Lynn, Jace reacts coldly and states “Now we have more data.” While Lynn may bring the empathy and hope to her patients, Jace is only about the results and I’m really enjoying the differences in their philosophies.

This Episode’s Grade: B (Good)

The fourth episode is another strong episode and despite the personas of Black Lightning and Thunder only having three minutes of screen time in the episode, Black Lightning as a series really shines with the family dynamic. The writers continue to make this more than a “superhero” television show and with this episode, the series is back on track after struggling in the first two episodes of the season.

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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