Reviews TV

The Arrowverse – Black Lightning 1×03 “LaWanda: The Book of Burial” review

The dominoes continue to fall as Black Lightning's return has a bigger effect on the community than expected.

Black Lightning 1x03

LaWanda White is gone, but her loss and her words stick around as more people begin to take the fight to The 100, which Jefferson & Inspector Henderson are not too happy about. Anissa and Jennifer continue their journeys to discover just who they are, as the superhero family drama keeps being the most real thing The CW has going on.

United On Ideas But Divided On Methods

One mistake that is made in real life constantly is this idea that any group of people that want to see something similar happen are all on the same page about how to do it. All the way back to the times of the Civil Rights marches in the 60’s to the present day there are divisions on how to achieve equality and deal with the issues plaguing African American communities. Henderson is adamant that even with some cops on the take, the police are still the best option to deal with The 100 while Reverend Holt is of a very different mind. Wanting to put the power in the hands of the people to take back their neighborhoods and fight back in their own ways. Jefferson works as the man caught in the middle not fully trusting the cops but also not fully believing that the people should try and take on the dangerous gangs. He’s finding out quickly that taking off from being Black Lightning for nine years has taken a toll, he’s not as connected to the fight as he once was and others are quick to point this out even without knowing he was the vigilante.

I love the way that this scene between Jefferson, Henderson, and Holt was filmed, bouncing from various spots of the church with the different conversations. They are not just standing around in one place having some long exposition dump conversation. Like, real people, they are moving around and doing things as they talk. It’s the simple things that make this show stand out from its fellow superhero shows on the network, truly making this show feel like it could be taking place in our real world. Those other shows we know they are fake and at times they feel disconnected from typical issues that people deal with.

Black Lightning Effect

One scene that really stood out ten years ago in the beloved The Dark Knight featured copycats donning hockey pads and such to try and take on the Scarecrow after being inspired by Batman. The dark knight confronted these people and the realization that he had a great effect on this city, bot positive and negative. This week Jefferson is hit with that realization and it’s so well done. LaWanda was inspired by the return of Black Lightning to do something about The 100 and her missing daughter, killed for her efforts. Reverend Holt speaks about how Black Lightnings return hs galvanized and inspired people.

What really worked is the conversation it led to between Jefferson & Gambi, about heroes and their power to inspire others. Their relationship really stands out, as it has that very Alfred and Batman style vibe to it as I mentioned in previous reviews. These adopted/foster style parent style relationships are one area that The CW shows really excel. People that have bonded over something, and would do anything for one another. While there is a part that wants to root for Jefferson to get his marriage back together, his relationship with Gambi and how Gambi is the one pushing him to be a hero again and be a better hero is far more compelling. Their interactions are just a joy to watch.

Despite some of the more freeing interactions in the episode, it’s clear the weight that is on Jefferson’s shoulders. He’s trying to juggle a great many things as a hero, a father, a person in the community and keeping his family safe now that he’s back in the hero world. Seeing how nervous he was about the whole march and the deadly shooting they know they have to stop was so far different than the overconfidence that Arrow or Flash tend to show in some of these situations. Jefferson is truly worried about if he can pull this off, after so many years sitting it out.  Though the bit of Gambi erasing footage of Whale is a troubling situation, as it might mean many things. Hopefully, it’s not a full-on betrayal.

DC Within The World of DC

This is a small thing but it’s really awesome that DC Comics and The Outsiders and other characters are totally a thing in this world. Not in the typical way for these shows either. They are not fellow heroes that are appearing, not yet at least, they are characters that are in actual DC Comics which exist in this world. That’s such a different way of bringing the other characters in compared to the other shows. Can’t wait to see what more they do with it. Also, it was a nice touch that it was the newly debuted Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) that is reading Outsiders comics since she and Anissa were members of that team together in the comics and Black Lightning was a member of the original incarnation of the team. Again, it’s the little things.

Building Better Villains

Tobias Whale is starting to become a bit more rounded villain, while still being a bit cliche. This week though introduces Lady Eve who right off the bat is a far more interesting villain. She’s not as cliche seeming as Whale, and you actually feel the power that is radiating from her. Whale took until the end of the last episode where he killed Lala to feel threatening, but Eve in just one scene truly is terrifying. It’s pretty clear that at the end of the day Eve is Tobias superior in this criminal organization that they are part of.

Family Drama Wrapped In A Superhero Coating

Just as interesting as the main story are the continuing stories of Anissa and Jennifer as they deal with different and similar issues in their lives. Having Anissa dealing with new powers at the same time her dad is trying to be a hero again was a nice choice, instead of just waiting till later on. In another way, it shows the impact that Jefferson has had on the world through his child that takes after him. Anissa’s girlfriend became a thing of the past pretty quickly which is a bit off-putting, though I suppose realistic. Things sometimes happen quickly. Sometimes you dance in spandex at a cosplay party with a girl you just met leading to your girlfriend getting very angry and leaving. Sometimes a show wants to quickly move towards the love interest that fans really want to see.

Jennifers dinner declaration that she’s ready to have sex was a great humorous moment that was needed in the episode. Jefferson has so much on his mind with the protest and other issues, but seeing him and Lynn as typical parents trying to come to grips with their children growing up was nice. Family is at the core of this series in a much firmer way than the other shows. It got even better when Jefferson had a talk with Jennifer’s boyfriend Khalil that was so very awkward. Somehow a shower talk happens, which is just so bizarre but hilarious as Jefferson can’t cope with what is happening. It’s just another reminder to him that he’s getting older as his girls are growing up and have a lot going on themselves. Thank goodness Khalil survived the altercation at the march, it would have made things a lot more awkward for all involved. Though the boy did not get off light, as he might never walk again.

Final Thoughts

Jefferson Pierce is a good man, but sometimes being a good man isn’t enough. This series continues to build its world and hero and the impact that he has. A perfect mix of lighthearted and very real is at the heart of the series, which is something I hope continues forward. At last the villains are starting to work better and hero & drama are merging into a perfect melody.

Score: 9.5 out of 10


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