Since it debuted, The CW’s Black Lightning has tackled everything from racism, police brutality, the effect of drugs on poorer communities, and so many other issues being faced here in our reality on a daily basis. This week they took on school shootings in their own way.
Tobias Whale is back, after spending time with the A.S.A. recovering from Black Lightning’s attack on him a few episodes ago, and is ready to take on the spot vacated by the deceased Lady Eve. His given mission is to bring in Black Lightning alive so that the A.S.A. can use him to potentially stabilize their created meta-humans, with a now walking and dreadlocks wearing Khalil. Gambi, Jefferson & Anissa search for ways to find the A.S.A. as Jennifer deals with her abilities & the chance that her mother Lynn might be able to suppress her abilities for good.
Things have been ramping up as the season finale is truly right around the corner, next episode, but as it always does the series continued to find ways to make sure it stayed ground and focused on family. Lynn and Jefferson’s flirtations at starting their relationship again had faded away for quite a number of episodes, now rekindled thanks to all the time the family has spent together the last few weeks. Only for the whole possibility of fixing Jennifer’s genes leading to the quick stop sign on any sort of reconciliation. This family is stronger together but it’s uncertain if that road between Lynn and Jefferson can ever be fully repaired, and at times it truly feels like maybe it shouldn’t but that’s what makes the reality of this show hit so well. It’s real.
School shootings are a topic sadly almost every single day in the United States because they happen way too often and nothing is really being done by those in power to ever stop them. Recent shootings have begun to galvanize the youth in the nation, those that watched their classmates be gunned down & are tired of nothing being done. In the Black Lightning world the attack on a school is not a student lashing out for some perceived wronging or due to mental health issues, but a cold calculating attack by the bad guys as a way to bring the hero out of the shadows. As Tobias and Khalil surmise, Black Lightning always shows up to protect those in danger and putting a whole school in danger is sure to draw him out.
After starting off as a very bland sort of cliche villain, Tobias has grown all season moving up now to the top ranks in Lady Eve’s spot (after secretly being behind her assassination) and now is proving how cold and logical of a villain he truly is. There are still some holes with him overall, but he’s definitely one of the characters that has come very far since that pilot episode where he had next to nothing to really do. Revealed as the one that brought back Lala, somehow, and turned him into a killing machine triggered by a phrase, Tobias now has his eyes on taking over for the A.S.A.’s Proctor so he can control everything. The season finale should be quite illuminating.
One thing the series has done brilliantly, along with all the other things, is save the big superhero action most times for the final act of the episode. This gives plenty of time for development and character work in the first two acts, then dive into the brutal fights in the school halls of this week. Thunder and Syonide’s fight was really good, especially the moment where Syonide realized her gun didn’t work & then managed to figure out how Thunder’s abilities work yet was still defeated.
Black Lightning & Tobias Whale’s fight was especially brutal. Jefferson did die during it after all. Heroes being pushed to the brink and left in precarious situations is a common thing with superheroes, but what made this one hit home, even more, was the fact that his daughters were there to weep over his body, before being able to bring him back. So far neither of them had really seen the toll being a hero can take, as Jefferson gave it up before they became old enough to know what was going on. This moment is surely going to follow them into the season finale and beyond, and it very well could affect how both of them feel about their powers and what they do with them going forward.
All the pieces of the puzzle began to come together this week as various questions that had been left hanging were somewhat answered, but not in a way that felt like the show was trying to rush things just because of an upcoming finale. The family remained the center and how Jefferson’s momentary death will affect things will be quite the interesting journey. Now that a second season has been guaranteed, how this season will end to set up what happens next remains to be seen. Tobias Whale finally fully becomes the villain that we were told that he was.
Score: 9 out of 10