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Black Lightning 1.5 Review – ‘Aches and Pains’

February 14, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
Black Lightning - Aches and Pains
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Black Lightning 1.5 Review – ‘Aches and Pains’  

One of the things fans dig about Black Lightning is the combination of serious business and humor. We had to love the open of “Aches and Pains” (or the longer title, ‘And then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Greenlight.’) where we see Black Lightning trying out some new hover powers. It’s his new favorite thing, and maybe ours too. He spots a kid on greenlight, and stops him being shot by police when a taser should have sufficed. Watch for the terrified cops to call Black Lightning “Sir.”

Of course this means that greenlight is still causing massive damage to Freeland and its people. We don’t have time to think about that, because Tobias needs a new suit. Gambi isn’t amused, and clumsily reveals to us that Tobias, Jefferson, and probably others have powers relating from a serum. It gives strength, and keeps them from aging (or at least Tobias, we’re not sure). Gambi refuses to give Tobias the identity of Black Lightning. For a second, we wonder if this won’t be the ep where Gambi dies. It isn’t though. What this also reveals (or reminds us of) is that Gambi knows Tobias is alive, and hasn’t told Jeff. WTF?!?

Anissa researches her new powers, and doesn’t even want Jennifer to know about it. She has moved back in to dad’s house, which should make things extra awkward when powers are increasingly revealed. In learning about her powers origin, she finds that it’s entwined with the research her grandfather, Alvin, was murdered over. Across town, Jennifer is set upon by some basic bitch bullies, and easily makes short work of them—seemingly without powers. But the move she did wasn’t meant to break a wrist. So when the girl turns up later with a “broken bone” we aren’t sure if much is being made of nothing, or if Jennifer might have a few powers of her own. Seriously though, no one should be talking smack about Khalil.

From what we know so far, experimental serum(s) were given to 9 Freeland children, about 30 years ago. This led to various types of enhancements and a cover-up that involved murders. Lest anyone think this ridiculous, the word “Tuskegee” should remind us all that yes, the government (or their oligarchic masters) absolutely experiment on the poor and people of color. Jefferson is one of these children, Tobias is another, which means Tori may be as well. Who else? We don’t know. To punctuate the problems of the poor, we see a dad trying in vain to get non-expired medication for his child—and still not wanting to accept charity from anyone. Dang.

Jeff is having some kind of problem. This isn’t new, and for some stupid reason, he’s been ignoring the problem and pushing himself too hard. Jeff might should take some of the lessons he’s trying to instill in his daughters—controlling his temper, knowing his limits, keeping out of things best not meddled in. We learn that Gambi found issues with the capacitor and something else sciencey with the suit. Black Lightning is still able to get the info he needs from a racist drug supplier who was clearly written this way just to piss people off. Effective. The phrase “electrified lawn jockey” is pretty damn offensive.

When Black Lightning finds out where Joey Toledo (the former right-hand-man of Tobias, and guy who looks like a total bitch) is, he wastes no time finding him. Well, first he has to go off on Gambi for not telling him. It’s a legit gripe, and he shouldn’t “calm down.” Whatever Jeff’s medical issue is, it becomes serious enough that Gambi calls Lynn.

Things at Casa Whale are moving forward. Tobias feels he should be on equal footing with Lady Eve. No one else seems to agree. Tori points out that maybe her brother is mad because he never killed his first enemy. Personally, I love a good story where someone who abuses kids or animals gets the crap kicked out of them. So watching Tobias break the back of his abusive father, and then leave him to die a slow and painful demise? Love it. Love everything about it—even as it illustrates the malice of the Whale family. We also see through a single flashback where Tobias gets his awful temper from. RIP, Eldritch.

Jeff giving Inspector Henderson a contact phone was expected. Calling it “the Black Signal” is hilarious. I don’t know if that’s from the comic or not, but everyone loves a good Batman joke—well, everyone except Marvel, I guess. Remember the basic bitch who messed with Jennifer? She’s got lady relatives, and they want to speak to the Pierces. Conveniently leaving out that there was another girl involved, that they hit Jen in the back, and what she said about Khalil, the BB’s mom leaves with an apology and an agreement that the girls medical bills will be taken care of. Seriously though, the amount of attitude being thrown around was intense. Jennifer isn’t sure why she’s being grounded for defending herself. Tough talk when Black Lightning and his wife/enabler #2 tell her she needs to solve conflict without violence. It’s no wonder Jennifer isn’t buying it.

Another excellent scene came as Anissa searched for a new costume. I wouldn’t say she quite has it yet—but she looked super sweet in that blond wig and super-suit. Even though she gave a fake name at the shop, I have to wonder if we won’t see that sales associate again. He seemed delightful. Not sure if Anissa’s hero persona (I’ll leave her name out for now, since I know not everyone reads comics) will get her comic look, but I love the one she has now. Batgirl wore a wig too—not that it matters. DC superheroes are easily recognizable in costume and kind of always have been.

Anissa is also taking actions that are bound to get nice old Mr. Poe killed. And he knows it, even though he helped her anyway. It will be a miracle if Poe survives the season, though it would be swell if he did. Anissa’s trip to the storage locker was accompanied by fantastic music. I say again, when are we gonna get to buy this soundtrack? WANT! Since when do rat corpses just lay around like that? Rat corpses get cannibalized, which is just another reason rats will remain on the earth forever. But I digress. Poe tells her right out that “they’re watching” and that finding out who “they” are will get her killed. Not might—it will. One quibble though, being strong enough to turn a safe handle doesn’t mean the mechanism will be unlocked and the safe can be opened. So that’s a clear writing error—but a very small one given the overall greatness of this friggin’ show.

It’s well established by now that the last segment of each Black Lightning episode contains a big fight. This week, BL tracks down Joey Toledo (never mess with a guy whose last name is a city). But wait—Gambi told Jeff not to go out, that he could get hurt or even die. As such, we see that despite looking like a weasely little bitch, Joey Toledo puts a whuppin’ on Black Lighting. No like!! This was a sizeable error on Jeff’s part. Now Toledo and Tobias both know Black Lightning is alive and coming after them. Granted, Tobias and Tori already knew that, but there’s no element of surprise anymore. That said, seeing Black Lighting explode that gun after disarming was amazing. I love that the fights and such aren’t just feats of strength and skill—there’s always something fun and well-crafted about every fight scene. The superhero genre has been crying out for that, especially on the CW. We get it already, Flash is fast and Green Arrow is good at archery and punching. Jeez. But this? Fresh and interesting every week.

My advice to Jefferson? For heaven’s sake, listen to Gambi. Also, listen to Lynn, and practice what you preach. Obviously he’s not going to die during the first season, but it’s not as if this show couldn’t eventually transform into one that focuses on Anissa and Jennifer, flanked by Lynn and Gambi. Of course we don’t want Cress Williams to go anywhere. But the longer he ignores advice from loved ones, the more he risks his own life. Eventually, there will be a heavy price to pay, and I want Black Lightning to live forever. The show is taking a week off, so we’ll be back February 27th.

See you’s then!

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
We already know that Jefferson and Tobias Whale have a long and contentious history, but why? This week's episode sheds a bit of light on the history of loathing between these men. Anissa further investigates her powers, and is led to her deceased grandfather's research. Meanwhile, Tori helps Tobias settle an even older score.