NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Black Lightning” are present in this review
Now that we can finally move on from the ‘Book of Secrets’ story pod, Black Lightning can start properly preparing to wrap up its second season on what’s hopefully an impressive climax. Season Two’s final story pod, ‘The Book of the Apocalypse’, is a two-part storyline that appears to primarily emphasize Jennifer’s first true steps in the field as Lightning, which obviously sees her charging headlong at Tobias Whale. Meanwhile, Tobias continues to ramp up his metahuman trafficking operation, including awakening the rest of the Masters of Disaster, and unleashing one of them upon Freeland to demonstrate his goods.
Fortunately, out of the gate, this first ‘Book of the Apocalypse’ episode, “The Book of the Apocalypse: Chapter One: The Alpha”, is a mostly solid offering, even if it feels like we’re saving the payoffs to many of its story ideas for the season finale the following week. We do get a good mix of storylines though, as Jefferson starts impressing upon his daughters the importance of following a code of ethics as superheroes, just in time for Tobias to pick one of the MOD methaumans to cause trouble in Freeland. It’s good to see the rest of the Masters of Disaster finally awakening and joining the show, who are mostly DC Comics-accurate, with the exception of Heatstroke, who is a now a man named, “John” in the Black Lightning universe, despite being a woman named Joanne in the DC Comics Universe. This is a bit of an odd gender swap, but perhaps Black Lightning just doesn’t want to bother with the tense love affair shared between Heatstroke and fellow Master of Disaster, Coldsnap from the printed panels.
Regardless, after deciding that he needs to attract attention before he can sell his metahumans, Tobias decides to choose a Master of Disaster to carry out a small wave of destruction in Freeland, in turn selecting Heatstroke for the job. This forces Black Lightning and Thunder to intervene, while Gambi decides to supervise Jennifer, fortunately giving us some much-needed action, after the show has once again put action on the back burner lately. The brief battle between Black Lightning, Thunder and Heatstroke is pretty cool too, as is the idea of Heatstroke super-heating gas lines to cause explosive fires around West Freeland, where the Pierce household is supposedly located! I suppose this was a fair enough way to get Jennifer in proximity to her super-suit, so we can set up the cliffhanger at the end of the episode, but Jefferson insisting that Heatstroke be let go seems pretty damn irresponsible, to say the least! Sure, he possibly figured out that Tobias was master-minding a phony destruction plan, but why in the world would Jefferson see fit to just let the dangerous metahuman killer go, especially when he’s got a partner working for the ASA?!
Speaking of Lynn, Odell appears to have relented a little bit on Lynn being unable to interact with Wendy, despite Odell still very much being intent on weaponizing Wendy as a metahuman asset for the military. Lynn suggests calling in both Perenna and Jennifer (albeit with Jennifer disguised over the phone), to help talk to Wendy about dealing with her powers, and still striving for a normal life, even if she can’t change the fact that she’s a metahuman. This is actually an interesting idea that the show touches on, namely Wendy’s journey to metahuman stability mirroring Jennifer’s, and allowing Jennifer to continue developing as a more mature character in the wake of losing Khalil. Unfortunately, we don’t see this come to pass yet, but perhaps the following season finale could start more explicitly laying the groundwork for this development with Wendy, who seems poised to potentially become a bigger part of the show’s cast next season.
Since Anissa is still spending all of her time moping about Grace, and only now putting together that Grace is a metahuman (it took her this long to piece that together?!), much of Jefferson’s ‘code of conduct’ speech is instead left to revolve around Jennifer, who is insistent that the rule of not using lethal force be exempted with Tobias. The tense moments of debate over how to handle Tobias shared between Jefferson and Jennifer made for several of the best scenes in the episode, particularly as Jefferson is forced to come to terms with his younger daughter growing up, as he sees Gambi putting the finishing touches on her super-suit. Jefferson struggling to uphold his own principles with Jennifer is something that’s consistently engaging to watch, since the question of Jennifer’s own code of ethics as Lightning is now coming into focus. If given the chance, would Jennifer kill Tobias? If she does, how does that affect her ability to be a hero?
The episode certainly ends with plenty of exciting hints for the season finale too. Odell begins more earnestly hinting to Lynn that he’s aware of her family members’ superhero identities, Lala makes a move on Tobias, after a lengthy talk with Lazarus about exacting revenge for the death of Lady Eve (whom Lazarus was apparently romantically involved with, in a pretty decent twist), and most importantly, Jennifer swipes her super-suit from Gambi, and tries to charge after Tobias and Cutter, after they’re forced to flee from Lala. There was another contrivance here, since Gambi stupidly runs off and leaves Jennifer unattended with her super-suit at one point, which is pretty much begging Jennifer to go steal it and charge after Tobias, and she obviously does just that. For such a smart character, that’s an uncharacteristically idiotic thing to do! Regardless, the cliffhanger of Jennifer suddenly being overloaded and disabled by her own unfinished super-suit is at least a pretty decent lead-in to the season finale, especially since Lala, Dr. Jace and the Masters of Disaster are all dangerously close by!
“The Book of the Apocalypse: Chapter One: The Alpha” does its job nicely as the first part of a pretty exciting two-part season finale storyline for Black Lightning, leaving Jennifer critically vulnerable, the Lynn/Odell tension about to boil over, and Lala finally making his big move against Tobias, who is now fleeing with Cutter, leaving Dr. Jace with the MOD metahumans. It’s still difficult to truly care about Anissa’s bellyaching over Grace, especially when the show seems much more interested in focusing on Jennifer right now, for obvious reasons, but at least Anissa got to help out with the scrap against Heatstroke in this episode, however brief it was. Tobias and Cutter not currently being in the power position is a bit of a risky direction to head in for the true season finale, but perhaps Dr. Jace and the Masters of Disaster are more than enough to keep the Pierce family’s hands full until Season Three. Hopefully Odell ends up being a friend and not a foe to boot, since it’s likely that the ASA will be necessary to contain the MOD metahumans anyhow.
- Strong ethical debate between Jefferson and Jennifer
- Cool battle against Heatstroke
- Lynn and Jennifer working together to rehabilitate Wendy
- Jefferson inexplicably letting Heatstroke go
- Gambi stupidly leaving Jennifer unsupervised around her super-suit