LaWanda: The Book of Burial recap
|Air Date||January 30, 2018|
The last time we left Black Lightning, Anissa had discovered she had some powers, Jennifer is getting closer to a boy she really likes, and LaWanda was murdered by LaLa, who was beaten and captured by Black Lightning. At this point, Jefferson Pierce begins to fully believe that he needs to become Black Lightning once again to save the city from the gang violence used by the 100. One of my favorite details in this show is the engagement with a non-super powered antagonist. Up to this point, the audience’s “villain” is something that actively exists in culture, including African-Americans. Gang violence, gang-related activity, prostitution; these are problems that many pockets of humanity face across this country and around the globe.
This was the strongest episode of Black Lightning yet, and the performances from the cast members made it so. From the first five minutes, it’s very clear that this show should take a layered and focused approach to their characters, more so than the special effects and production budget.
Instead of going scene by scene, we’re going to hit the main bullet points of the story, and then check in on each main character as we journey with them through each episode. In this episode, we explore the fallout of Lawanda’s death. The reverend of a local church is infuriated, rightfully so, and demands the police force do something, much to the chagrin of Inspector Henderson. The Reverend institutes a march through the streets to demonstrate how the citizens are not afraid of the 100 gang. Sounds like a smart idea, right? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
What about the kids?
Anissa finds a washing machine and an abandoned scrapyard and tries to channel her powers to destroy the machine. After a few scrapes and bruises, she finally realizes that her power is controlled through her breathing. One controlled breath, and she destroys the washing machine. Watch out for Anissa!
Jefferson’s youngest daughter, Jennifer, decided it’s time to tell her parents that she wants to have sex… at the family dinner table. This small plot line gives the show even more strings of character, as the audience gets to watch a superhero dad navigate that conversation, as well as approach the boy Jennifer is dating, Khalil, and lay down some protective fatherly advice about cleanliness. This show is great!
The episode’s climax is reached when the reverend and the members of his congregation march on the streets in a candlelight vigil as a show of power against the 100, but the 100 is there as well. We learn that Tobias Whale, the inerrant “villian” in this show actually serves a much more threatening boss, Lady Eve. The actress pulls her best Jill Scott impression, and soars in the scene she stars in, making it a point to tell Tobias, “I’m fine with people believing in God, they just can’t believe they will take back these streets.” Man, that is cold.
Tobias sends one of his runners with a gun to interrupt the protest and open fire on the crowd. However, right before he can, Black Lighting drops in to save the day, and the protest. Tobias Whale at that moment pulls up in his limousine, pulls out a sniper rifle, and his female henchman shoots the reverend, seemingly hitting Jennifer’s crush, Khalil, right behind him. They both are rushed to the hospital, and Jennifer finds out that the bullet has hit his spine. He may not walk again.
Any stray observations in LaWanda: The Book of Burial?
Man, this show has a fantastic music selection. If there’s one thing that many tv shows fail to do, its incorporate music correctly. Sometimes a character’s scene is more impactful or more powerful without any words spoken. So far Black Lightning has committed to an accurate reflection of the culture, much like Luke Cage, and it is a breath of fresh air.
One of the final scenes of the episode is Gambi, Black Lightning’s butler/tech extraordinaire, watching footage of the protest shooting. He highlights the footage of Tobias Whale, and deletes it, apologizing to Jefferson. I for one am very intrigued at how close they are keeping the Black Lightning and Tobias Whale relationship to their proverbial chest. They are “dangling the carrot” of that story, and it is working week in and week out. With the title of the next episode being “Black Jesus”, I am looking forward to how Jefferson deals with the citizens of the city considering Black Lightning an “angel of the Lord,” or the “Sword of the Lord”. They hinted at that connection several times, and Jefferson Pierce seemed hesitant to speak on it. That is a big stake for the character going forward, and I can’t wait for next episode!