31st Jan2019

‘Black Lightning 2×11: Prodigal Son’ 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

The episode opens with a long, passionate speech by Reverend Holt speaking to his congregation about sacrifice and asking for prayers for fellow church member, Khalil. Holt wants the congregation to rise up and take back their community from the “devils” running the city. Unfortunately Holt’s passion for Freeland comes with a price…Cutter has poisoned Holt’s handkerchief, resulting in Holt collapsing and dying in his own church. If you thought Holt dying was the only surprise in this episode, just wait. Meanwhile Khalil is paralyzed and in the hospital as a result of Whale ripping the robotic spine out of Khalil’s back last episode. An infection is beginning to spread throughout Khalil’s body and the doctors cannot cure or stop the infection from spreading. The doctors refuse to accept Lynn’s help as her techniques are experimental and not authorized by the hospital.

The majority of this episode takes place at the hospital and revolves around Jennifer and her family monitoring Khalil’s condition. Jennifer is in full-on “flame mode” as her whole body is on fire as a result of dealing with the possible death of Khalil. Jefferson calls in Jedi-master Perenna to assist Jennifer in calming down and controlling her powers and she succeeds by teaching Jennifer how to meditate.

Jennifer finds a new power, seeing the energy inside of humans (sure, that seems logical), and after examining Khalil, knows he is slowly dying. Jennifer pleas with her mother to save Khalil and Lynn agrees to by calling in a favor to the ASA in an attempt to move Khalil to ASA’s lab and putting him in a state of sleep, similar to the Pod People, until they can figure out a cure for him. The hospital is against this but Khalil’s mother agrees to it and the ASA, a government agency, arrives to take Khalil. Not sure how legal this is but again, let’s go with it. Jefferson realizes he has to start letting more people into his world (this is always a bad idea with superheroes) and invites Detective Henderson to join him at Gambi’s shop. Jefferson shows Henderson the secret Lightning Cave, yeah I’m naming it, and Henderson is not only surprised by all of Lightning’s gadgets, but also Gambi being alive and well. Jefferson and Gambi offer Henderson a spot on Team Lightning and the good detective agrees to join them. The new team decides they can no longer attempt to arrest Whale on just one murder charge, they need to catch Whale on a series of crimes in order for the charges to stick.

Whale continues to build his army by sending computer-whiz Todd to the prison to free convicted criminal, and Lynn’s ex-partner, Dr. Jace. We learn Dr. Jace was the creator of the drug that causes Whale not to age as well as other secret experiments on meta-humans. Whale recruits Dr. Jace to find the meta-humans the ASA are holding and Whale’s version of the Legion of Doom continues to grow. I enjoy this slow build of Whale’s and Jefferson’s armies and hopefully the payoff at the end of the season doesn’t disappoint.

Henderson decides to pay a visit to Whale at his posh penthouse with one of Gambi’s gadgets attached to his tie, a secret camera. Whale admits his disappointment in Khalil but denies hurting Khalil and passes the blame to the drug dealers in the 100 Gang. Henderson discovers a secret safe, hoping it holds the stolen ASA briefcase, and warns Whale that he’ll be back. Unfortunately for Team Lightning, Whale is smart and the safe is determined to be empty and makes the scene pretty pointless. The ASA and Lynn attempt to move Khalil but the infection and the inability to sedate Khalil makes not only moving but saving Khalil, impossible. Jennifer, in her final goodbye to Khalil, uses her power and transports him to a safe space in her mind, their prom. One final kiss goodbye and Khalil’s redemption is complete. In the most powerful scene of the whole series, we are witness to the whole Pierce family and Khalil’s mother watching Khalil slowly pass away. No big superhero sendoff, just a raw and heartbreaking scene.

One Good Thing:

  • Black Lightning shakes things up again! Unlike other television series, the writers of Black Lightning are not afraid to kill characters off in the series, which allows the audience to never fully feel safe in their favorite characters. Reverend Holt was a good supporting character and his demise was not only surprising, since I felt we were only touching the potential of the character, but will have ramifications on the city of Freeland as the city lost the “voice” of the community.
  • The other death, Khalil, is even more surprising. Khalil has truly redeemed himself this season and his story arc from season one to his death is a testament to the strength of the writers. The series doesn’t give Khalil a big superhero redeeming death but rather focused on a more realistic end to one of my favorite characters of the series. It’s these little touches that make the audience feel for the characters and become emotionally attached to them. Farewell Khalil.

One Bad Thing:

  • Jennifer setting a car on fire. Jennifer is unjustly accused of attempting to steal a car from a stereotypical high-society woman in the hospital parking lot, resulting in the woman calling the police. Jennifer, already pushed to the brink due to Khalil’s condition, uses her powers and sets the car on fire, explaining to the woman that lightning struck it. I understand the reason for the scene, Jennifer is stressed and we needed to get Perenna to the hospital, but it came off as hokey and not realistic. The woman was a stereotypical, out of touch, wealthy person that felt like something out of a sketch comedy series rather than a superhero drama. It didn’t help that computer graphics for the fire and the car exploding looked rather cheap too.

What We Learned:

  • Anissa is back with Grace. Grace, Anissa’s ex-girlfriend, arrives at the hospital with dinner for Anissa, a sign confirming these two people are not over each other. Anissa wasn’t given much to do this episode but her having a support system outside of her family is nice to see. I enjoyed Anissa and Grace’s relationship earlier in the season and am looking forward to how their relationship progresses.

This Episode’s Grade: A (Excellent)

This week’s episode was the most “grounded” episode of the whole series as the main focus was on saying goodbye to Khalil. The audience felt the sadness the Pierce family suffered through and Khalil’s redemption was a wonderful ride. Khalil was given a proper sendoff and the series will be interesting in losing such a strong supporting character. How Khalil’s death affects Jennifer and the rest of the Pierce family will be the lynchpin for the rest of the season, in my opinion, and will push the limits of Team Lightning. If you have missed a few episodes of Black Lightning this season, this is a great episode to jump on board.

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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