Posted February 8, 2018 by Jasmin in Reviews

REVIEW: Black Lightning S01E04 – Black Jesus

Episode: S01E04 – Black Jesus
Air Date: 6 Februaru 2018
Director: Michael Schultz
Writer: Pat Charles
Based on Characters by: Tony Isabella, Trevor Von Eeden
Starring: Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, Damon Gupton, James Remar

“Black Jesus” is a body shot after taking a hard right hook with last week’s powerful “LaWanda: The Book of Burial.” Black Lightning continues its slow burn introduction to villains while shining a light family and community. For viewers who believe the show infuses too much politics, perhaps they’ve never heard of NBC’s powerhouse franchise, Law & Order. Similarly, Black Lightning feels like it pulls some of its plot points right from the front pages of local news outlets.

Cress Williams - Black Lightning - Black Jesus

© The CW

This fourth episode is peppered with even more zingers that feel like having a conversation over family dinner. The scene where Black Lightning confronts a drug dealer, nicknamed 2-Bits, is both hilarious and painfully honest. The way we move from campy superhero fight to a real life issue and back to campy is A+. 2-Bits pleads for Black Lightning not to turn him in to the cops because it would be his third strike and he could face 30 years or more in prison. “You should have thought about that,” the hero says. “Yea, man, but 30 years? They’re locking brothers up forever,” the 2-Bits responds.

Another scene where Gambi and Jefferson are discussing the new problem with the drug called Greenlight raises some eyebrows with its blunt talk. A drug so addictive that it is getting people hooked after one hit has Gambi wondering why the police aren’t taking the threat more seriously. “Black kids overdosing has never been newsworthy,” he tells his friend and mentor. “Black Jesus” also highlights the struggle of protecting impressionable, under-served kids from the whims of out-of-touch school systems. Jefferson Pierce is a principal first, Black Lightning second.

Black Lightning is a series about a man toeing the line between (unauthorized) law enforcement and community building. This early in what Jefferson Pierce does not consider a comeback, he’s thinking small. Solve this one problem, and be done with Black Lightning for good. Of course it won’t be so easy. One of the most exciting prospects about the future of this series is how the show will handle juggling these two feelings.

Tobias Whale - Black Lightning - Black Jesus

© The CW

As Jefferson continues to grow into his revived role, Lady Eve (Jill Scott) is mesmerizingly terrifying. She commands attention, no matter her surroundings. And any woman who takes “business meetings” while embalming a live person deserves to be feared. Lady Eve has not raised her voice and she has not given in to violence, yet Tobias Whale is obviously frightened to cross her. Not wanting to relinquish his position, Tobias takes Lady Eve’s advice and calls on his sister for big bad support. They hatch a plan to use Khalil to turn the community against their hero, and it’s just sinister enough to work.

Delving deeper into Tobias and his colorism issues, Lady Eve makes a threat that plays on Albino stereotypes. After telling Tobias how a long time ago, people used to think Albinos were magic. As such, they would be killed and their bones ground and sold as magic dust. “If I were you, I would use some of that albino magic to [kill Black Lightning]. Because if you don’t, my partners are going to turn you into dust.” What a great villain line! As menacing as she is, who are these partners of hers?

Lady Eve - Tobias Whale - Black Lightning - Black Jesus

© The CW

Comic lore tells us Lady Eve is part of the Rogues Gallery for The Outsiders. A connection that was introduced (very meta-like) in the previous episode when Anissa meets Grace Choi. We get our first glimpse of Thunder, Anissa’s alter-ego, in “Black Jesus,” as she fights off a group of thugs trying to hurt Grace outside her bar. How much fun is it going to be when we eventually get a whole family of supers?

The biggest unanswered question with Black Lightning so far is what is Gambi hiding? He deleted the footage proving Tobias Whale is still alive, and now he’s deleted the footage of the earth shaking/asphalt cracking that Anissa has done. I hope he’s attempting to spare Jefferson instead of being some kind of double agent working for a nefarious organization. I like that Gambi is a champion for Black Lightning, but I’m concerned at the secrets he’s keeping.

Black Lightning is an entertaining break from sheer escapism heroes and gives the audience something hearty and digestible. I’m still enjoying the series, and can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.

Jasmin loves Batman, sci-fi, and movies with lots of explosions. When she’s not writing about geektastic things, she’s probably playing video games or watching sports. Her ultimate goals include traveling the world to watch tennis and working for BioWare to revive the essence of the original Mass Effect Trilogy.