Previously on Black Lightning, “The Resurrection and the Light: The Book of Pain”
Despite mentions of Vixen and Supergirl, Black Lightning’s executive producer Salim Akil made it clear that it is not part of the same universe as Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, or Supergirl. And though I don’t believe for one minute we will not get a crossover between them, this just confirms what the viewers have already felt: Black Lightning is in a world of its own.
In its freshman season alone it has introduced queer characters, and tackled colorism, police brutality, and a government-sanctioned attempt to control, poison, and then exploit a predominantly Black city. Those other shows won’t get that deep. The closest The Flash came was having characters say, “Hashtag feminism” three or four times in one episode. There will never be a very special episode of The Flash that examines what it means for WestAllen to be an interracial couple. And if Arrow hasn’t addressed the difference between a Black man (Diggle) and a White man (Oliver) violently being a city’s vigilante/protector, that’s a missed opportunity.
This disconnected feeling served the show well during a season finale which felt both sluggish and rushed. Everything took place in neat little pockets with little to no outside interference, and we were given an explanation for it by episode’s end — even if it was a bit outlandish.
The first half was mostly exposition delivered by the series ultimate explainer, Gambi. As Jeff was unconscious in their middle-of-the-woods hideout, Gambi relayed how Jeff first came to realize and use his powers (this was effectively accompanied by flashbacks) and Tobias’ connection to Syonide and the ASA. He also counseled Jenn on how to deal with Khalil going forward: Basically, he was dealt a shitty hand, but he chose to side with Tobias and all that came with it. Don’t cry for him too hard.
Meanwhile, Jeff relived his final days with his father and was able to get some much needed closure when he actually spends time with his dad - whether the show is dipping its toes into spiritual waters or if this was just Jeff’s subconscious is unclear.
There was some clarification as to what’s going on with zombie Lala. Tobias admits he spent a lot of money on an experimental program which allows him to control Lala. The visits from LaWanda and Will are mere side effects and he can expect visits from all the people he killed, who will then turn into tattoos on his body to keep him haunted. This explanation - like most of the exposition dumps - felt weak and rushed, and with Lala presumably dead after being sent to be a human bomb to kill Proctor (he blew up, but Proctor lived), it’s not certain we’ll get to explore the consequences of this plot line further.
The action picks up when Tobias, Syonide, and Khalil attempt to kill Proctor themselves (they fail) and Proctor learns the location of Black Lightning and Thunder. Everything has gone to shit for the racist villain, but if he can walk away with the two meta-humans and study them to preserve the other test subjects, it’ll be a big win. Fortunately, he sends his C-team and the superheroes, with assists from Gambi and Lynn, are able to prevail.
In a not-so-shocking ending, Proctor tries to strike a deal with the super-powered Pierces after they find the location of the pods. They decline, of course, and Gambi (exposition chief) reveals that Proctor has been acting outside of the ASA’s purview. It explains why he never called in more help, and how Black Lightning and Thunder have been able to effectively evade them thus far. This is a little unbelievable — especially when it’s revealed that Tobias is now in possession of a ton of Green Light and in charge of the city’s criminal element — but at least they bothered to explain how they’ve been able to get away with so much with no real interference from a secret agency that is supposedly as powerful as the ASA. Proctor taunts the family, knowing that even if they refuse him, they won’t kill him and he won’t see any jail time. Then Gambi puts two hot ones in Proctor’s chest because he has consistently been ’bout that life.
With Proctor’s experiments exposed, the Pierce’s secret identities protected, and Tobias’ new power position solidified that leaves us open to many possibilities for season two.
What did you think of the finale? Leave your brief thoughts below, email them to email@example.com, or leave them on our Facebook post for this review and we’ll read them on tonight’s podcast.
Black Lightning S1E13 Review Score
"Shadow of Death: The Book of War"
Black Lightning - S1E13 - “Shadow of Death: The Book of War” | Starring: Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III, Damon Gupton, James Remar, William Catlett, Gregg Henry, Jill Scott, Chantal Thuy, Skye P. Marshall