• Television 

    Five Thoughts on Black Lightning‘s “The Book of Rebellion, Chapter One: Exodus”

    By | December 5th, 2018
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    Jennifer and Khalil ran away together in last week’s Black Lightning, so Jefferson, Lynn, Anissa, Gambi and the Freeland Police Department all worked together to find them before Whale did.

    1. Powerful Moments

    There’s a couple of strongly poignant moments I want to praise. The first is when Henderson learns a body matching Jennifer’s description has been found, and he goes to verify if it’s her: it’s not much to Henderson’s relief, but he also recognizes someone has been murdered, and it’s still a tragedy. Damon Gupton flawlessly, wordlessly conveyed Henderson’s guilt at his relief while framed in profile.

    The second was Lynn’s alcohol-induced breakdown. She’s always been the calm at the eye of this storm, so it was striking to see her trying – and failing – to put her analytical mind to work finding something in Jen’s room to help determine her location, slowly but surely succumbing to her grief and anger at losing her youngest.

    2. Creepy and Comic

    Whale got a couple of great moments too: he shows up in Khalil’s mom’s apartment reading Moby-Dick (he’s not one for subtlety) demanding her son’s location. He reveals he has a strict “no mama” policy, and you’re left in suspense as to whether he’ll stay true to his principles or not, before he eventually leaves, but not before delivering a compliment that doubles as one hell of a zinger for her son. We then see Whale having dinner, talking to a portrait of his late sister Tori. Her painting looks like a weird parody of Kehinde Wiley‘s work, and it’s a definitely a sign he’s coming apart without her, Syonide or Khalil.

    3. Father Figures

    Anissa’s not too happy at Gambi for faking his death, but they manage to patch things pretty quickly: he’ll always be Uncle Gambi to her. However, it’s clear her relationship with her dad still needs a lot of work, when she realizes that she completely forgot to tell him about the text Khalil sent Jen that she spotted on her phone. However, rather than owning up to this, she forces Jefferson to confront why his actions – grounding her, homeschooling her – might’ve forced her to run away. Is Jefferson a bad father? Of course not – he raised his girls after Lynn left right? – but perhaps he loves too much to realize he can suffocate them, because as they say, if you love someone, you should set them free.

    4. Field Training

    Jennifer’s basically goes through a baptism of fire this week, quickly improvising with her powers to blind Whale’s crew, to hot-wire a car, and to deactivate a tracking beacon implanted behind Khalil’s ear. She’s proving herself to be very resourceful, and as harrowing as this whole experience is, she’s gonna emerge all the better for it when she eventually returns home.

    Speaking of Khalil’s head, I really enjoyed their banter when she cut his hair to help evade Whale. He feels she should ditch her weave as well, but she refuses, as it was expensive. I must say, I always thought it was interesting Jen was the only Pierce with a weave, so it was nice to see it acknowledged and in such a fun, Solange-esque way: just because you’re on the run doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the finer things.

    5. Cutting Closer

    Whale sends the knife-throwing assassin Cutter (Kearran Giovanni) after Khalil. We don’t learn much about her, other than she and Whale know each other, and that he respects her to the point of tolerating an extraordinary amount of lip. She’s as smart as she is deadly, and would’ve killed Khalil had it not been for Black Lightning and Thunder’s intervention. She complains afterwards on the phone that Whale did not warn her to expect metahumans, and you immediately see the wheels in Whale’s brain start to turn: Black Lightning has saved Jefferson Pierce’s daughter how many times now? I guess we know the season’s endgame now…

    Bonus thoughts:

    I have only one real bonus thought for today. There have been some very disturbing and concerning allegations about the show’s co-creator Salim Akil. They are very upsetting to read, and Warner Bros. Television are rightly investigating them. Art is a reflection of the creator, yet the notion of not continuing this column has not crossed my mind, because the show is also the work of countless others, including his wife Mara Brock Akil. That I will continue writing about Black Lightning – for now – should not be taken as a sign that I am ignoring the news.

    Continued below

    See you all next week for the mid-season finale, when Black Lightning is once again left out of the CW’s crossover event.

    //TAGS | Black Lightning

    Christopher Chiu-Tabet

    Chris is a writer from London on the autistic spectrum, who enjoys tweeting and blogging on Medium about his favourite films, TV shows, books, music, games as well as history and religion. He is Lebanese/Chinese, although he can't speak Cantonese or Arabic. He also writes for Nerdy POC.


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