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Black Lightning: Lighting Things Up

Black Lightning: Lighting Things Up

By Regular Et Cetera Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

The #DCTV Couch Club is a team of DC fans dedicated to exploring the universe of The CW’s Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Black Lightning and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Look for new Couch Club posts here on after every new episode!

Here we are, ladies and gentlemen! We are officially living in a world that has aired five primetime episodes of Black Lightning (the fifth airing taking place in what may be the blackest week in all of cinema history, thanks to official premiere of the Black Panther movie). And since the end of this delicious gravy train of beautiful black entertainment appears to be nowhere in sight, every day has me feeling like a kid in a candy store. In today’s review (just like in other gloriously Regular reviews of yore), I’ll try not to give away too much, but like usual, you’ll still get a basic rundown of what happened in tonight’s episode. And of course, you’ll get to see what I thought about it, too! So be ye warned, spoilers ahead.

The Story

We’re back on the case in Freeland, and Black Lightning is still trying to figure out where all the Green Light is coming from. Funny enough, the beginning of the episode lands him LITERALLY on the same side as the police, as they work together to try and stop an out-of-control Green Light junkie. And I have to admit, they made a pretty great team. Also, it must be pretty sweet to clock in to work and then let Black Lightning do all the heavy lifting.

Meanwhile, it looks like Gambi may have more of a finger on the pulse of the crime in Freeland than we originally thought, possibly even being involved with it? It definitely looks that way when Tobias walks into his shop with big questions about Black Lightning. Gambi doesn’t give him any information, but the encounter leaves both figures visibly shaken.

At the Pierce residence, Anissa is studying metahumans (trying to figure out more about people like her with special abilities), while Jennifer gets into a big fight at the skating rink with two bullies. The fight was completely in self-defense, and it was all she could do to stop the two girls from teaming up on her, but she definitely gave those girls the fade and it was glorious.

Back on the streets, Black Lightning is working with Detective Henderson to get closer to the source of Green Light and learns that Joey Toledo is still in town. After learning this, Black Lightning is determined to capture Joey Toledo, as soon as possible.

We learn a bit about Tobias as well. Namely, that he longs for the days when he was a respected councilman and loathes how he is now a low level crime lord. To raise his spirits, his sister Tori informs him that she’s found the whereabouts of their estranged (and abusive) father and that they are going out for a nice visit to reconnect. Tobias ends up walking away from the family affair and leaving his elderly father writhing on the kitchen floor in agony. Needless to say, it was not a happy family reunion. At all.

After a little more detective work, Black Lightning finally catches up with Joey Toledo. Unfortunately for him, their meeting doesn’t quite turn out as he planned. Black Lightning’s powers, unexpectedly crap out on him at the height of the fight, leaving him completely helpless. And Joey Toledo ends up walking away laughing, leaving Black Lightning beaten, bruised and gasping for air on the parking lot cement.

The Ups

Okay, so… what?!! BLACK LIGHTNING CAN FLY NOW?!!! Hohmuhgawd! That was the coolest moment yet! I’m wondering how many other abilities Black Lightning really has, and if we’ll continue to see more appear over time. And…I’m definitely into that kind of wonder, a lot.

That early confrontation between Gambi and Tobias was INTENSE. I had no idea what was going to happen there, especially since we already knew that Gambi was keeping Tobias’ identity and whereabouts a secret from Black Lightning. In the end, it provided more questions than answers, though. For example, how exactly does Gambi know that Tobias has some kind of super serum “in his veins,” and why is he trying to keep Black Lightning away from him? Why did he pull out that pistol? Is it some kind of special gun designed especially for Tobias? Or will any old gun do the job? Why doesn’t Lady Eve want Gambi and Tobias talking shop? And lastly, does that mean that Gambi works for Lady Eve, too? Questions, questions, questions!

I loved watching Jennifer serve those two bullies at the skating rink! TWO GIRLS AT THE SAME TIME, EPIC!!! They seriously had it coming. It was so funny when her parents showed up at the Pierce residence still acting like parents, having no idea that their child was the one that was completely out of pocket, but definitely ready to fight! I’m glad that Lynn and Jefferson could squash the beef and hash it out like adults. Bonus points for Jennifer learning self-defense from her superhero daddy…and extra credit for LGBT representation in the parent trap that is defending your children to other adults.

I really appreciated the way the story tied medical experimentation into the greater story of the of black people living in Freeland. It reminded me of a few things I learned in Harriet Washington’s book, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present. It gives a pretty comprehensive and in-depth take on how black people have suffered (and in some cases, continue to suffer) from countless cases of brutal medical experimentation throughout American history. It was quite interesting to see that narrative being paralleled here in Freeland.

The Downs

I’m still not feeling some kind of way about those two times they hinted at addiction being part and parcel with Black Lightning’s abilities back in Episode 2. So, watching Black Lightning struggle with using his powers (or whatever was supposed to be going on) after gaining a new ability (flight) smelled pretty fishy. I’m not sure what exactly is happening here yet, but I’m staying on the record of feeling that an addiction angle for a black hero rings out as practically racist, or at the least, highly problematic.

The Fun Honorable Mentions

  • Another Living Single cameo! As Terrence T.C. Carson of Kyle Barker fame made an appearance as Tobias’ long-lost father
  • Jennifer is not going to have an easy time explaining to Anissa how she got her jacket ripped at the skate party
  • Anissa’s shopping/costume creation scene was adorable
  • I thought it was funny that they used Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas to play the “but you didn’t hear it from me”-style informant
  • ‘Not everyone solves their problems with their fists” -Lynn Pierce
  • “¯\_(ツ)_/¯” -The Rest of the Pierce Family
  • A final fight with James Brown’s “The Big Payback” playing in back? Masterpiece.

One Last Thing

Watching Tobias and his sister deal with their abusive father was really rough for me. Because as most know, child abuse is a real problem, and many people have had to suffer through it growing up. The consequences of child abuse can indeed be decades of emotional trauma and it can affect interpersonal relationships as well. For a lot of people, getting over the abuse and the abuser can be truly be the beginning of a whole new life. At the very least, a new perspective on it. And while most people don’t deal with their family problems like the Whales, the sentiment of being brave enough to face your past in order to better your future continues to be one that rings true for many people, if not most.

Signing Off

Well that’s it! Episode 5 of Black Lightning is officially in the books! I’ve decided that I’m not going to do a rating system after all, but I will say, this was one of my favorite episodes of Black Lightning to date. Maybe even my second favorite after Episode 3. But that doesn’t mean you can’t rate it in the comments section below. Let me know how you felt about tonight’s episode. And don’t forget, for more from me on all things Black Lightning, just follow me on Twitter at @RegularEtCetera. Peace!

Regular Et Cetera covers Black Lightning as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. Look for him on Twitter at @RegularEtCetera. Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on The CW.