In the latest episode of Black Lightning, the series turns its focus to a superhero-tinged look at drugs and their effect on the community. Black Jesus aired on February 6, 2018, and stars Cress Williams, China Ann McClane, and Nafessa Williams.
Black Lightning has some legit background fighting music. It’s my new goal in life to look that silly in the comic-styled costume, and still walk slow-motion through a crack house beating up drug dealers much like the titular hero in the latest episode, Black Jesus. This is for the streets. BLACK LIGHTNING’S BACK!
The last episode of BL was the strongest that we’ve seen so far. The reverend of the local church inspired a march against the 100 gang to show the solidarity of peace; Anissa began to learn how her powers truly work; Jennifer met Khalil and decided she was ready for sex. Yeah, a lot happened the last episode. At the climax, Black Lightning saved the protesters from the 100 gang shooting, however, the reverend and Khalil were caught in the crossfire. The Reverend, now dead, and Khalil, who is possibly paralyzed from the waist down, are two people caught in the Black Lightning crossfire. Which is a theme that this show seems to be heading towards, and I am ready to embrace it!
While the first three episode of Black Lightning focused on the 100, gang violence, and gun violence, this episode took a well-timed turn toward the topic of drugs and it’s effect on the community, with its own superhero effects sprinkled in. This could not have come at a better time. What continues to make Black Lightning not only palatable, but engaging and unique, is its ability to connect with the African-American culture using many problems, trials, and tribulations that it faces, all while using a superhero to ultimately reflect how that culture conquers those trials.
Drugs are no longer just in the streets, they are in the schools. Jefferson Pierce comes to grips with a student overdosing on a powerful drug that gives him almost superhero level power and aggression, while still maintaining the dependency and addiction of a drug within the real world. Pierce decides to start some old fashioned, Batman-style detective work. By day, Pierce tries to find answers within the community using words and connections, while by night, Black Lightning uses fists and electricity to beat confessions out local drug dealers and informants. Cress Williams has a very solid performance this episode and I look forward to his acting each week.
Anissa also has a breakthrough this episode, although it may not have been as triumphant as before. She approaches drug dealers trying to sell the new drug “green light” to girls from the private school. After harsh words are exchanged, she realizes she now has the power to deal with these problems and makes a decision to come back after dark to “put the beat down on them”. Later on, she approaches those drug dealers under the cover of night and decides to exact revenge. She uses her powers in a moment of revenge and realizes that she nearly killed both drug dealers. “With great power, comes great responsibility…” Anissa needs to have that conversation with Peter Parker, he’ll set her straight.
Jennifer decides she wants to spend less time at school and extra-curricular activities, and more time with Khalil due to his current situation. Khalil is optimistic about his diagnosis, yet everyone around him is fearful for the misplaced optimism, Jennifer included. Later in the episode Jefferson Pierce approaches Khalil and informs him of the bad news… his spinal cord is completely severed and he will never walk again.
Lady Eve, Tobias’ boss, is downright evil and sadistic. She scolds Tobias for lying about Black Lightning’s “death” while she embalms a body in her morgue. Seriously, she is beginning to become one of my favourite characters. The show is determined to unfurl her character one sentence at a time, and it is working. Tobias then calls for his sister to visit town, and they plot to take down Black Lightning using the very thing he wants to protect: the community.
At the climax of this episode, two major plot points are put into motion. Grace and Anissa are leaving the club when they are approached by a set of homophobic thugs. Anissa channels her powers and fights them all, leaving craters in the ground and smashed cars, fleeing with an unconscious Grace in her arms. She’s getting stronger and stronger and she will need someone to help her with her powers.
At the end of the episode, Khalil is sitting in his hospital bed surrounded by gifts. He has no recollection of how they arrived there. One person knows… Tobias Whale. He arrives at Khalil’s room to inform him that the gifts are from himself, as he was an avid follower of Khalil’s track and field career. Cue dark lights and mystery music. Tobias then informs him that his situation is a result of Black Lightning and no one else. He offers help to overcome his pain and a chance to take out the one responsible… Black Lightning.
This show is dangling the Gambi carrot in front of us. Gambi notices the camera footage from Anissa’s super-powers and decides to also keep this a secret from Pierce. Their confrontation later on in this season about that is going to be a BIG ugly fight. And I can not wait. Gambi is withholding information episode after episode. One can only wonder when he will approach Anissa to help train her, without Jefferson’s knowledge. Man, that is going to be one popcorn-fueled emotional throwdown, and I will be right there yelling at the TV. This show keeps steaming along full speed ahead. Can’t wait until next week!
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Black Lightning S1E4 - "Black Jesus"
- The actor that played Two Bits had a great interaction with Cress Williams, I hope he returns. Solid role.
- Gambi's gambit "See what I did there" has the audience consistently guessing.
- Not enough Khalil screen time by himself. Would have loved to see some scenes where the realization of his situation actually hits him physically. (Trying to move legs, no sensation, etc. Stuff like that.) Maybe they're saving it for the next episode, but that would have been icing on the cake.