Posted February 14, 2018 by Jasmin in Reviews

REVIEW: Black Lightning – S01E05 And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light

Episode: S01E05 – “And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light”
Air Date: 13 February 2018
Director: Rose Troche
Writer: Adam Giaudrone
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 Lightning‘s fifth episode, “And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light,” lays the groundwork for a much bigger story than has been told so far. We go back in time to see some of Tobias and Tori’s troubled childhood, and Anissa delves deeper into her her grandfather’s murder. As far as Gambi is concerned, his secrets are growing exponentially as he continues to be the biggest question mark in the series.

Peter Gambi - Black Lightning

© The CW

We knew Gambi was up to something when he deleted the footage of Tobias Whale in “LaWanda: The Book of Burial,” and now we have confirmation they once worked together. Tobias pays a visit to Gambi’s taylor shop asking for information on Black Lightning. He asks Gambi if he still works for the ASA… Had to look that one up during the commercial break. In the comics, the ASA is a branch of the US Government called the American Security Agency. They’re responsible for putting together a team called the Force of July. This team, like many other easter eggs dropped so far in Black Lightning, is connected to The Outsiders and Green Arrow.

Early in “And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light,” we’re introduced to something Gambi refers to as the serum. Tobias’ super strength was shown in the second episode when he killed Lala with one hand. He and his sister Tori make quite a psychotic pair. She believes her brother is being reckless by going out in public. Her suggestion to fix that? Tobias never eliminated his first enemy — their father. By killing him, the release should free up mental space for her big brother, giving him the clear head he needs to tackle the Black Lightning problem. I’m not buying that logic, but we will see if that back breaking bear hug does Tobias some good.

The secrets that Gambi is juggling is what is most intriguing in relation to where the story is going. Is he some kind of double agent? Is the ASA a villain organization, and Gambi found some courage to bring them down from the inside? I really hope Gambi didn’t have anything to do with Alvin Pierce’s death.

Jefferson and Jennifer Pierce - Black Lightning

© The CW

As the story deepens with the introduction of past connections, the family dynamic continues to amaze me. The father/daughter pride moment between Jefferson and Jennifer was heartwarming. After defending herself from being jumped at the skating rink, Jennifer broke a girl’s arm. Granted, in the context of the scene, she could have stopped short of breaking her wrist, but chose not to. In that case, I can see why Lynn is so upset. While Jennifer doesn’t think she should be punished, Jefferson explains to her it’s because she didn’t tell her parents what happened. “That’s not how we communicate in this family,” he tells her after she claims she didn’t lie.

As Anissa tries to find her own identity with her powers in a completely unnecessary yet totally adorable fashion show/shopping montage. Inspired by her grandfather’s story, Anissa ruffles a few feathers as she sets out to learn more about the kids that disappeared. This mystery vaccine and the serum that Gambi mentioned have to be related in some way, but we’ve only scratched the surface here. Is that what gave Jefferson Pierce his powers? This entire story-line raises a lot more questions and pulls the show into its mid-season stride.

Jefferson Pierce - Black Lightning

© The CW

Until “And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light,” Black Lightning separated itself from the rest of The CW’s hero shows by sidelining the over-the-top elements. But with some adjustments to his suit, Black Lightning can now get air born; his powers are making him metahuman sick; plot gets convoluted; and now the villains are starting to show their powers. But that doesn’t mean the realism is gone. There’s a scene where a white man points a shotgun at Black Lightning calling him an “electrified lawn jockey before adding, “I could shoot your black ass and they would call me a hero.”

Every time I get comfortable and settle into the show, something jarring like this occurs. But that is what I love so much about the series. This specific element is what makes it feel so real because that’s how racism has become so pervasive. A singular comment in an otherwise ordinary day, said so off-the-cuff can really just throw the recipient for a loop. A unique element in Black Lightning is also Tobias dealing with his own racial and colorism issues. “I’m tired of managing these Negroes,” he says to Tori on his frustration with being pressured from Lady Eve. It is also the first time he mentions his days as a Congressman. Oh, how the mighty fall.

Black Lightning is diverse in its storytelling and in its organization. The series is perfectly happy on a slow burn as it blends in elements from more traditional drama shows, elevating the superhero genre in a way like The Punisher did for Marvel and Netflix.

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.