• Television 

    Five Thoughts on Black Lightning‘s “LaWanda: The Book of Burial”

    By | January 31st, 2018
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    LaWanda White may be gone, but – much to Jefferson and Inspector Henderson’s dismay – her death inspires others to take up her fight against the 100 gang this week, with Reverend Holt using her funeral to announce a protest march against their grip on the city. Meanwhile, Anissa and Jennifer are both on their own journeys of self-discovery.

    1. #NotAllCops

    It was gripping to watch Jefferson, Henderson and Holt’s debate after the funeral. There was a lot of division between the civil rights activists of the 1960s, and likewise today there are a lot of disputes and disagreements between the figureheads of the Black Lives Matter movement, so it was fascinating to see that echoed in this episode.

    Henderson’s protests that his organization, the police, could still be counted on to protect the people of Freeland despite corruption, and how that fell on deaf ears, rang equally true. There are only so many scandals the public can take before remembering the number of good cops out there.

    2. Unintended consequences

    It finally clocked for Jefferson on this episode that LaWanda may not have been so bold confronting the 100 if it weren’t for Black Lightning’s return. I haven’t seen a piece of superhero media explore the issue of copycat behavior since the opening of The Dark Knight almost ten years ago (!), where Batman’s fending off wannabes interfering with his capture of the Scarecrow was played as a joke. We know Pierce is a godfearing man who’s been casually dubbed “Black Jesus” for his efforts to help the community in Freeland: one can also only imagine how the historical Brown Jesus would be perturbed by many of the actions carried out by his followers.

    3. Outsiders

    Among the new characters we meet in this episode are Anissa’s new love interest, Grace Choi, who happens to have a bit of a superhero fetish. For the record, Grace carries a copy of an issue of “The Outsiders,” the team book Black Lightning was a prominent part of after the cancelation of his title, and the very series her character was introduced in. Between this and Logan, I’m loving how superhero media has embraced the old idea of comic books in comic books just ripping stories from the headlines. (Seriously, “Watchmen” got it wrong, pirate comics were never going to overtake superheroes even in a superhero universe.)

    Of course, being gay can mean being a bit of an outsider, and so the idea of Anissa and Grace going to a cosplay party was very appropriate. There is, after all, an inherent campiness to the superhero genre, given it’s about people in tights beating up other gaudy-looking characters. The party wasn’t as well executed as it could’ve been though, Anissa ditched her ex-girlfriend pretty quickly, and over the commercial break no less. Less screentime spent on dancing would have been advisable.

    4. Let’s talk about sex

    So Jennifer telling her folks that she’s ready to begin a sexual relationship with her boyfriend was deeply amusing. It’s great that between Jefferson agonizing about his actions, and Lynn internally screaming, that we also see them as bumbling parents, who suddenly deeply regret telling their girls that they can talk to them about anything. The shot of them downing wine on learning that Jennifer intended to lose her virginity that weekend was a masterclass in dry comedy.

    Being a Papa Bear, Jefferson confronts Khalil with an incredibly awkward talk about cleaning up after himself. It was an oddly broad scene, but became funnier in retrospect once I realized the joke is that Jefferson is so unable to accept the situation, of everything changing as he’s becoming older, that he simply can’t remind him to wear a condom. It’s a good thing Khalil didn’t die after the altercation at the protest, because that last talk would’ve been a shameful secret that Jefferson would’ve had to take to the grave.

    5. “One of you will betray me”

    Haven’t said much about Gambi in these ramblings as he’s been a difficult character to suss out so far. I wasn’t impressed by his conversation with Lynn last week, as the optics of an old white man lecturing her made me uncomfortable. Gambi’s mysterious decision to delete security footage of Whale implies he’s compromised: guess it’s appropriate that Black Jesus would have a Judas or Peter to disappoint him.

    Continued below

    Bonus thoughts:
    – I adore the handheld cinematography, it makes the show feel so warm and intimate.
    – Lady Eve seems to be Tobias’s superior.

    //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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