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Black Lightning 1.3 Review – “LaWanda: The Book of Burial”

January 31, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
Black Lightning - Lawonda the Book of Burial
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Black Lightning 1.3 Review – “LaWanda: The Book of Burial”  

As I watched this week’s episode, I began to wonder if Jefferson wishes he’d raised his daughters to feel less powerful, or to be less headstrong. I’m not a parent, so I have no experience in parsing wanting a brave, creative, driven offspring versus having to raise, educate, and corral such a person. It’s clear this week that Jeff’s life would be easier if his daughters were more timid and less woke. Too bad for him, that won’t be his life any time soon. Expect spoilers for “Lawanda: The Book of Burial” to follow.

Reverend Jerimiah Holt seems like a good guy. One thing’s for sure, he’s done taking crap. LaWanda’s funeral (the mother who was shot last week by Latavius—who was in turn killed by Tobias Whale) seems to have energized the community. Or wait, maybe it was the return of Black Lightning, emerging as an angelic presence in the city. You can’t blame these people for wanting to stand up and rally around a hero. The 100 Gang runs everything and half the cops are crooked as hell. There’s to be a march against The 100. And Reverend Holt doesn’t care what “overseer” Henderson thinks about that. Damn. Watch for the CW’s continued use of “she persisted” to describe female bravery. Speaking of which, Anissa doesn’t make it to church. She’s trying out her new powers, which seem kinda spotty.

There are two questions we’re being asked this week.

1. Does the city need Black Lightning to save them from the gangs?

2. Are citizens better off fighting back or lying down? Is it better to be a safe, warm captive or a freezing, starving, fighting hero of the resistance? As long as Black Lighting is around, Freeland citizens will choose the latter.

Gambi makes some suit upgrades. Jeff can now generate a shield, which you know will come in handy soon. Jefferson “accidentally” taking out the simulation cop over and over is probably meant to be hilarious. We learn that Khalil, Jennifer’s boyfriend, is a virgin, and she is too. Awwww. Adorbs. They’re both totally ready to get their groove on though, and a plan is forged. This leads to some of the funniest scenes of tonight’s ep, when Jennifer relays to her parents that not only does she feel ready to get her giggity on—but Saturday’s the day.

Anissa’s romance life isn’t going quite as smoothly. She meets Grace, a super cute bookish chick who hangs out with nerds at cosplay parties. It doesn’t take long for Chenoa to get wise, which leads to a speedy breakup. No big, really, because it’s clear to everyone that Anissa was just not that into her. Now she knows a bunch of people who love costuming—which is exactly who she needs to meet. It’s not like Gambi is gonna make something for Anissa. We get another fun scene with the sisters, agreeing to go to the march together.

In case Jefferson didn’t have enough to worry about, Lynn suggested that Jennifer live with her rather than her superhero vigilante dad. Makes sense, but in the end, Lynn changes her mind. Was she really “lashing out” as she suggested, or is it perfectly reasonable to not want her teenage daughter to live in a home with a giant electric bullseye on it? Elsewhere in Jeff’s life, his confrontation with Khalil about toweling off and athlete’s foot—hysterical! Why is that a thing though? Father’s giving their daughter’s boyfriends a hard time? Doesn’t it show more respect for the daughter and her upbringing to assume she’s making good choices?

This week, we meet Lady Eve. Actually, I suspect that we saw her at the school fundraiser in Ep1, though she never actually turned around. There was a lady of her body type (so far the largest gal on the show) at the fundraiser, described as having ‘deep pockets.’ Jeff indicated that he knew her, or had met her before. So her turning out to be Tobias Whale’s boss was lovely! She’s tailor made to be a villain of a black community—she hates people who stand up for themselves, and has no time or patience for prayer and marching. She wants Reverend Holt stomped on, and for everyone else to understand that they’re in charge—and they’ll stay that way. I expected the show to bring in new villains after killed Lala so soon—but I was not expecting this strong and robust lady. I like her, and I like that she doesn’t like that evil looking button chick. Who is Lady Eve? What’s her whole game?

Does Jeff’s question get answered? Not really. Henderson is anti-Black Lighting. The Reverend is pro. Lynn sees both sides, and the daughters are both pro—despite not knowing what they’re actually risking. Inspiring people is good and noble, but leading them to get themselves killed isn’t. The only answer we get is that these issues are huge and complicated. In the end we all have to figure out where our lines are and what we’re willing to risk for what’s right.

The march progresses as expected. Henderson is told he can only send a single squad car to the march. That’s some bullcrap right there. Gambi figures out the best vantage point with his FitzSimmons-style 3D tech. Black Lightning keeps watch over the festivities, and the big showdown of the episode happens when the gunman (sent by Tobias) shows himself. The lightning shield is pretty amazing, and his aim with the new tech is excellent. Still, evil-button-girl manages to shoot Reverend Holt with a through-and-through that also nicks the spine of…Khalil. That sucks. Both men are expected to live, but Khalil’s Saturday date is off. And he might never walk again. Meanwhile, Black Lightning is seen as a hero. And Tobias is aware that BL is alive. I couldn’t help thinking of the Grinch when Whale was griping about people singing and coming together. I’m betting his heart is at least two sizes too small.

The headline is that BLACK LIGHTNING SAVES PROTESTORS, which isn’t going to do much to calm Tobias down. He’s bound to be hopping mad now that he knows that Black Lightning is alive, and he has to explain this to Lady Eve. But does Jefferson know that Tobias is alive? He did see a wanted poster with his pic on it, but is that enough? We see Gambi delete a pic of Tobias in the car—does that mean he’s hiding the info from Jeff? If so, how is that going to impact their trust level. No adult is trying to hear that, “I lied to you because I wanted to protect you” nonsense.

Lynn knows something is up with Anissa, but can’t get any real answers out of her. Anissa has no idea that her mom is exactly the right person for her to talk to about what she’s going through. How could she? I hope Anissa decides to tell Lynn what’s up soon—mostly because I want to see her reaction. Lynn, for her part, is taking things in stride. The people say Black Lightning is an angel, a costumed answer to all their prayers. That’s a lot to live up to. A lot.

Another fantastic episode of Black Lightning, as this show continues to ask big questions and write characters that are complex, strong, varied, and anything but predictable. I love how hard it is to guess where things are going. Get well soon, Khalil.

See you’s next week!

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
In case it isn't clear to everyone by now, Black Lightning isn't simply a hero show for people of color. This show is about to bestow TV's first black, gay heroine. That is friggin' amazing, and I'm stoked to be here reviewing it. This week Jefferson tries to discern whether Black Lightning is a good thing for the city, or if his presence brings even more danger. Anissa has a setback, and Jennifer makes a decision.