NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Black Lightning”, including a major character death, are present in this review
It would appear that Black Lightning’s ‘Book of Reunification’ story pod functions as little more than a means to tee up the show’s big finish. After a rather uneven episode last week, this week’s latest episode, “The Book of Reunification: Chapter Two: Trial and Errors”, pretty much presents a filler narrative from the Pierce family perspective especially. Unfortunately, this has become a frustrating norm for Black Lightning’s final season, so it shouldn’t be enormously surprising. Nonetheless, the same bright spots in the show’s ensemble remain, with Tobias continuing to present the bulk of intrigue throughout this season’s storytelling, alongside Khalil, who continues to build up his own potential spin-off series with aplomb.
The supposed core plot of this episode is supposed to hinge around Lynn’s internal debate over whether or not to accept a plea deal, since the forged evidence against her is too ironclad for even Keith to counteract. Okay, that’s a hell of a one-eighty from Keith’s confident, strong defense from last week, but whatever. Even so, this idea could have been great, if Black Lightning wasn’t rapidly running out of runway. In the end however, Lynn’s entire plot this week ends up quickly being rendered pointless, specifically when Khalil gets in touch with Jefferson, simply to announce that he has an easy fix for both Jefferson’s and Lynn’s criminal investigations. Well, that’s a little bit unsatisfying, don’t you think?
This is just the latest evidence that Black Lightning has no idea what to do with Jefferson’s and Lynn’s characters anymore. These two have acted childishly, contrived stupid drama left and right, and have changed dramatic arcs like they’ve changed socks throughout this season. True to form, Jefferson had another quick-fix storyline this week that failed to satisfy once again, even if he did make the more interesting decision to reveal to Detective Shakur that he is in fact Black Lightning. Despite initially feeling betrayed by Jefferson’s secret, Shakur eventually goes along with Jefferson’s mission to free Agent Mason from Looker’s influence as well, which is done via a plot-convenient potion made by Lynn. Yep, it’s that simple. So much for Tobias’ big frame job, eh?
To be fair though, I do like the idea of Looker making a surprise comeback for Black Lightning’s final season, even if she’s taken out disappointingly quickly here. Khalil volunteers to defeat Looker himself, saving the Pierce family the trouble, and this naturally serves as the latest excuse to buiild up The CW’s proposed Painkiller series. It really feels like showrunner, Salim Akil cares more about building up Painkiller than he does truly ensuring that Black Lightning goes out with a bang at this point, and that is kind of unfortunate, even if Khalil nonetheless continues to do well as a hard-hitting action man. Khalil’s confrontation with Looker and her brainwashed men is pretty solid here, as Looker’s mental avatar eventually fights both Khalil and Painkiller at the same time, only to lose, and wind up de-powered. Like I said, this is a disappointingly easy defeat for one of Black Lightning’s more memorable recurring villains, but Tobias paying Looker to secure the frame job against the Pierce’s is nonetheless a very cool idea. It just needed more episodes for Looker’s involvement in events to fully land.
Speaking of Tobias, he spends most of this episode in the background, but nonetheless continues to consolidate his power to great effect. In another surprisingly quick turn, Tobias is officially made mayor of Freeland in this episode, which is fantastic… But it probably won’t mean much in the end, considering that Black Lightning only has two more episodes, and one more story pod to work with at this point. Nonetheless, an exciting final battle between Tobias and the Pierce family is foreshadowed here, as Tobias gives Chief Lopez the means to power up her cops with stolen metahuman genes. These metahuman genes were taken from pregnant women at Anissa’s clinic, which is why Darius was killed after he found out about this subterfuge. Again, another cool story turn, but it really needed more episodes to properly realize its potential, especially when the Pierce family has spent far too much of this season merely stumbling in the dark, and having Tobias run circles around them.
On the note of being in the dark, Jennifer struggled with this most of all this week. Anissa instead branches off to help Gambi and Lauren locate a huge supply of Prometheum underneath Freeland, which apparently flows underneath the entire city. This is another promising sign for Black Lightning’s climactic final battle to come, especially when Freeland’s hefty supply of Prometheum effectively renders Gambi unable to locate Tobias’ emitter. Still, the emitter can no longer contain Jennifer’s powers, despite the fact that said powers are somehow glitching, which T.C. believes is due to Jennifer not developing her personal connection with Uriah. Yeah, this is pretty stupid, not to mention forced, just like Red conveniently being sent to attack Jennifer by Tobias, only for Red to inexplicably walk away after Uriah is killed by a stray metal fragment that Jennifer’s electric shield fails to properly deflect. Let’s face it though, Uriah wasn’t much of a character anyway, and he had very little bearing on Black Lightning’s narrative. In fact, it felt like this week’s entire Jennifer subplot simply exists as a contrived excuse to kill off Uriah, likely priming Jennifer to once again accept Khalil with open arms, after they inevitably reunite some time in the Arrowverse’s future.
“The Book of Reunification: Chapter Two: Trial and Errors” once again leaves Black Lightning to practically give up on effectively developing the Pierce family any further, simply sweeping away Jefferson’s and Lynn’s legal troubles with a virtual shrug. Jefferson bringing Detective Shakur fully into his inner circle is good, but the fact that Jefferson and Shakur had nothing to do this week but get Agent Mason to drink some magic coffee wasn’t exactly riveting. Likewise, Jennifer’s brief romance with Uriah is cut laughably short by Tobias in the end, making one wonder why this show even bothered with the pretense of giving Jennifer a new love interest at all, especially when she’ll no doubt inevitably wind up back with Khalil eventually. At least Khalil continues to kick ass though, presenting a solid degree of promise for Painkiller once again, if The CW opts to pick up Black Lightning’s proposed spin-off series. Likewise, Tobias’ formal appointing as Freeland’s mayor, while disappointingly quick and dirty, sets up more promising obstacles for this show’s heroes yet again, particularly now that Tobias has armed Chief Lopez and the Freeland PD with their very own supply of artificial superpowers.
All that’s left now is Black Lightning’s last duo of episodes. Even with Looker now neutralized, and Jefferson’s and Lynn’s civilian identities no doubt cleared of malfeasance, the Pierce family still has an alarming amount of obstacles closing in on them. Worse still, virtually all of Freeland’s resources will be pitted against the Black Lightning family over the next two weeks, as Mayor Whale and Chief Lopez mount a climactic offensive against Freeland’s superhero team, thus pitting Jefferson and his family against the very city they’ve worked so hard to protect throughout this show’s run.
Black Lightning frustratingly goes back to undercooked Pierce family plotlines this week, despite Khalil's exciting confrontation with Looker, and Tobias finally securing his new position as Freeland's mayor.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Tobias mounting a joint offensive with Chief Lopez
Khalil's exciting battle against Looker
Jefferson letting Detective Shakur in on his secret identity