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Black Lightning 1.4 Review – ‘Black Jesus’

February 7, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
Black Lightning - Black Jesus
8.5
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Black Lightning 1.4 Review – ‘Black Jesus’  

One of the conundrums faced by Jefferson Pierce is whether he can do more good as a high school principal or as a super powered vigilante. To be honest, it’s left pretty ambiguous by the end of this week’s ep. Is Bernard better off because of the intervention of his principal? Or would he have made better choices if the drug pushers were out of the picture? Spoilers for “Black Jesus” follow.

A student named Bernard is “freaking out” in the bathroom, unable to handle a new drug that appears to give him super strength. More likely, it’s a PCP-type drug that leads people to forget that they aren’t invincible. Bernard takes two lightning strikes before he goes down—and Jefferson is determined to get to the bottom of it. Anissa (who still hates being called a bitch) encounters drug pushers as well, and is equally committed to putting a stop to it. If you don’t know the difference between a dealer and a pusher—know that a dealer has drugs available for people who want to buy them. A pusher is someone who actively seeks out and persuades new people to get involved in addictive drugs. The folks slinging “Green Light” are definitely pushers. Apparently one of these is a dude named Two-Bit, who has a history with Jefferson.

It appears that Lady Eve is the villain that will rise to prominence this season. I loved the scene when she explains the history of albinos and magic. Creepy. She seems awfully good at working on that corpse—until we see that it’s not a corpse. Um…that’s both horrible on a human level, and fascinating for a horror fan like me. Damn. Jill Scott is exceptional in this role. Hell, I wouldn’t mess with her.

Tobias Whale has a problem, having made a reputation for himself as the man who killed Black Lighting. Those in the know now think he’s incapable of running the 100. Lady Eve demands that Black Lightning be taken out at once, and more quietly than the march and shooting event that enraged and horrified the entire town. Whoever Lady Eve refers to as the big bosses are, they care about cash flow more than any one person who works for them. That’s what you sign up for when you become a big-time drug dealer, right? Tobias is under strict orders to take Black Lightning out. Quick.

One thing this show does an excellent job of is to show lots of people who rely on guns to look tough and to stay safe and/or intimidating. Black Lightning makes short work of such people, and we see this week that Anissa does to. I think that sends a strong message to young people that guns are not only not the way to rise to prominence—but it’s something weak and foolish people rely on. Even the main villains don’t use them. We haven’t seen Tobias running around waving weapons, and Lady Eve seems to be hella horrifying without them. By the way, Tobias used to be a politician. I hope we get more back story on that.

Principal Pierce is at odds with the school board. It makes sense that the board would want a kid that took drugs at school, trashed school property, and assaulted the principal should be expelled. But Jeff is right when he says he knows the students, and that Bernard’s life would be irreparably damaged if he’s expelled now. At the same time, Vice-Principal Fowdy isn’t keen on being treated or spoken to like a secretary or an assistant. Jeff wants Bernard to stay in school and advance to college. The board will only allow this if Jeff gives up the deciding vote for future infractions. He agrees. I can’t help thinking this will come back to impact Jennifer at some point.

Did anybody else notice that Khalil has access to exceptional health care? Wow. His mom working two jobs is unlikely to make enough to afford that kind of care. Still, Khalil just seems like a suicide waiting to happen. At first he’s cheerful and looking ahead. But when it’s revealed that his spine is severed and he really isn’t going to walk again…we’re left with two main points. Khalil can’t see his way to another path at this time, and Jennifer may not be as ‘ride or die’ as she claims. I didn’t care for her quitting track either, and like Jefferson, I hope she gets back into it. Odd that Lynn was the soft touch in that debate.

Gambi has “connections,” but we know almost nothing of him. What was he before he made super-suits? Who does he know? Why does he keep a sawed off shotgun in his office? Before the end of the season, we’re going to need an ep that reveals more about his past. This is even more true now that we know he can give, for all practical purposes, X-ray vision. Tobias confronts the guy he outsourced Black Lightning’s killing to. He certainly doesn’t seem like someone who could recognize a member of Earth, Wind, and Fire—so that was hilarious.

Dinner with the Henderson’s was pretty cool. I loved seeing a conversation where Jeff and Lynn know that Black Lightning is at the table, while Anissa passionately explains how he’s a hero whose family no doubt supports him. Jeff’s giant smile during the meal was awesome. If he knew though, that Anissa left dinner early to do some hero shit of her own, he probably wouldn’t be smiling. Anissa isn’t being too smart about her new powers. Taking video on her phone was dumb. She doesn’t appear to be looking around for cameras. She put a whuppin’ on those pusher dudes in a lit parking lot, and then called an ambulance on her own phone. That’s more than enough for Henderson to figure out who she is. Heck, Gambi is already kind of onto her. So far, Anissa’s smartest move was to put her hood up. Meanwhile, Anissa and Grace are assaulted by homophobes who get a bit of a smackdown of their own. It certainly seems that Grace is more down with Anissa’s powers than Chenoa would have been.

Two-Bit was a fun diversion. I hope we see him again, mainly because he was funny. It’s probably important to know that not all drug dealers are immoral people. But pushers hurt people and don’t really deserve the same deference. Two-Bit trying to take a selfie before he gets punched out was hilarious. Across town, we meet Tori. She’s the sister of Tobias and has popped into town to help deal with the Black Lightning problem. She suggests that rather than kill him outright, that they turn the town against him. Neat idea. Suddenly, a bunch of sweet games and funding shows up to help Khalil. Whaddaya know?

We aren’t sure exactly what Khalil’s plan is, but he’s clearly going to use Khalil to make Black Lightning look bad. “Pain makes you stronger,” Tobias says. That’s usually what people say when they’re trying to feel better about having a terrible life. That might be difficult, since the last segment of the episode is the one where our hero busts into a den of criminals for a rescue. This week, the savee is Bernard—the student who went back to get more Green Light. See, the deal with this drug is that using it once causes addiction. That seems hokey, but they used to say the same thing about crack. After a fun beat down of thugs with guns, Bernard is saved and winds up in a good treatment facility. Hopefully he’ll still make it to college.

I worry about these people and their insurmountable obstacles. I’m looking forward to TV’s first black lesbian superhero, and hope Anissa gets smarter about her powers and how, where, and when she uses them. I can’t wait for the various reveals, and the intricacies sure to develop when people start finding out secrets and revealing to some while hiding from others. Anissa may tell Lynn or Jennifer about her powers first—will they hide them from Jeff? Or their partners? What if Gambi figures out about Anissa first? It’s all too intriguing. What we do know is that this show is fantastic, and the music is even better. Does anybody know if the Green Light song already existed, or if it was written for the show?

See you’s next week!

8.5
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
It's kind of amazing how Black Lightning has already developed a devoted fan base. This show started with a bang and if anything, has gotten better every week. In "Black Jesus," Khalil learns of his new circumstances. Tobias deals with an error in judgement; Anissa and Grace spend time together, and a young man named Bernard takes a sizeable misstep.
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