10th Dec2018

‘Black Lightning 2×08: Exodus’ 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

Well the television gods lied to me…we DO have a new episode of Black Lightning this week!

black-lightning-season-2

Jennifer and Khalil are on the run from not only Whale but also the Pierce family but unfortunately laying low and off the grid requires money, something they don’t have. The solution? Khalil attempts to collect the weekly “take” from a group of local drug dealers but Whale already sent word that Khalil, aka Painkiller, has left his organization and a bounty is on his head. The attempted collection results in Khalil being trapped in a shootout, but being saved by Jennifer using her powers to blind the gang. Khalil and Jennifer escape with the money and in theory, an attempt at a new life. Watching Jennifer and Khalil fight together was something different and I’m actually hoping for a spinoff of these two, travelling the country and fighting crime together. 
Meanwhile the Pierce family and Gambi are attempting to locate Jennifer but after reviewing surveillance video from all over the city, no leads have been found. The Pierce family is frustrated and their frustration grows even more when Anissa lets the cat out of the bag that Jennifer is most likely with Khalil. The Pierce family begin to understand the seriousness of the situation and enlist Detective Henderson and his police force involve in searching for Jennifer, before she vanishes into the night.

Whale pays a visit to Khalil’s mother in an attempt to contact Khalil but his mother, after working all day, didn’t know that Khalil ran off or left Whale’s organization. Khalil’s mother refuses to help Whale and despite being a murderer, Whale won’t hurt Khalil’s mother as he has a “don’t hurt moms” policy (so nice of him) and leaves frustrated. After a Lynn’s emotional breakdown, Jefferson and Anissa have a “heart to heart” talk about the changes in their family and Jefferson lets it be known the blame for Jennifer running off with Khalil is on Anissa. Anissa fights back, verbally, by telling her father that he is the responsible one for driving Jennifer away with all his rules and being over-protective of Jennifer’s powers. If the lesson of the first season was about the strength of the Pierce family working together, this season’s lesson is how they will react when things don’t go the Pierces’ way.

Khalil’s mother, wrecked with guilt over Khalil’s life of crime, arrives at the Pierce household and advises Lynn their children are probably hiding out at Khalil’s aunt’s house. Lynn makes the call to Jefferson and after suiting up, the heroes are off to stop Khalil and Jennifer before they leave town. Gambi, most likely feeling guilty about faking his own death, has a present for Thunder, her own mode of transportation…an ATV. Not sure if that is the best way to get around an urban environment but we’ll go with it. Whale uses the tracker he implanted in Khalil’s neck (unbeknownst to Khalil) to find his rogue henchman and calls in his own reinforcement, Cutter. She looks like a stereotypical gang member from any 1980’s action film but what she lacks in costume originality, she makes up for in her skillset…an assassin with a love of knives and pinpoint accuracy. Khalil and Cutter have a close quarters fight inside his aunt’s kitchen and Black Lightning arrives just in time to save Khalil from Cutter’s knives.

Black Lightning and Thunder continue to fight Cutter, allowing Jennifer and an injured Khalil to escape out the back door of the house. After stopping in the woods for a break, Jennifer uses her powers to destroy the tracking device in Khalil’s neck and allow them to officially go off the grid. The episode ends with yet another character realizing Jefferson Pierce is Black Lightning! Whale figures out any time the Pierce women are in trouble, Black Lightning shows up and it only took about three incidents for him to put the pieces together. This revelation should make the series more interesting as not only can Whale attack Black Lightning the hero, he can wage war on Black Lightning’s personal life.

One Good Thing:

  • Anissa still hasn’t forgiven Gambi. After faking his death and taking the Pierce family on an emotional roller coaster, not everyone is ready to forgive Gambi. Anissa, while happy he is alive, spends most of the episode questioning Gambi’s reasoning for faking his own death. I appreciate the writers not allowing Anissa to “forgive and forget” so quickly and allow her feelings of anger to be expressed. While she still loves Gambi, this relationship will take some time to heal.

One Bad Thing:

  • The pacing of major storylines. A major issue I’m having with this season of Black Lightning is the introduction of major storylines being introduced and then being scrapped for weeks. For example, we haven’t seen any developments with the ASA, Lynn, and her criminal doctor sidekick in weeks nor have we seen any developments in Anissa’s girlfriend’s transformation into a meta-human. Another major issue is two of the best characters from season one, Lynn and Gambi, seem to have no direction or a major part in the storylines this season.

What We Learned:

  • Khalil has no real plan. While Khalil may think running off with Jennifer is a good idea, he obviously didn’t plan the escape well. From robbing drug dealers to stealing cars, Khalil is becoming more anxious and nervous about leaving town and not being caught, not only by Whale but also the police. The more time Jennifer spends with Khalil, the more she realizes why she left him in the first place and the deeper she gets on the wrong side of the law.
  • Lynn is repressing some serious issues. The series focuses so much on Anissa, Jennifer and Jefferson that sometimes it forgets Lynn is the one that holds the family together. As Jennifer is missing, the pressure of keeping the family together results in Lynn resorting to drinking (a lot!) alone and breaking down emotionally while searching her daughter’s room for clues. After all this time as the strong one, Lynn needs Jefferson to step up and pull the family back together.

This Episode’s Grade: B- (Above Average)

This week’s episode is a tad more serious and darker than the last few episodes and is better for it. Jennifer running away puts all the heroes into a frantic mindset and even become sloppy in their actions. The issues continue to tear apart the Pierce family and with Whale learning of Black Lightning’s identity, the Pierce family will soon no longer be a unified unit. This season has had opportunities to change up the series with their storylines but it seems the writers are hesitant to pull the trigger on them. Hopefully next week’s winter finale episode shakes the series up.

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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