Black Lightning 2x02 "The Book of Consequence, Chapter 2: Black Jesus Blues" Review
One thing I really enjoy about Black Lightning is that it doesn’t skip around a lot. Once again, we resume right where we left off. This time, Jefferson is being advised of who his replacement will be, a white man named Mike Lowry, and that they expect to have his full support and cooperation to make the transition smooth. Jefferson isn’t sure that the parents or the students will take to the new principal, but he is determined to make the best of it. I don’t believe that Mike Lowry will be a true antagonist, but I do expect we’ll get to see the juxtaposition of how Black children respond to White teachers and principals and I’m very interested in just how Black Lightning tackles that.
As Jefferson is forced to take a backseat, Lynn moves front and center into the handling of the Green Light Babies. One of the pod children wakes up unexpectedly, finding his way out of his own pod, accidentally killing himself and a scientist and freeing another pod child, and things get dicey very quickly. Lynn is in a bit of a bind, as she also has her hands full with Issa Williams, the meta who was shot down by police in Episode 1 only to be resurrected later. Lynn makes the decision to have Black Lightning and Thunder find the escaped meta, Wendy Hernandez, while taking care of Issa herself.
Issa is scared, but he’s a good kid. Lynn takes him home to share a family dinner with the Pierces after he is essentially disowned by his own family, who keep blurting out their fear of and disgust with him. The dinner starts off well, until Issa’s as yet unidentified meta power kicks in. Just as before, the Pierces start blurting out their real feelings (with Anissa and Jefferson coming close to revealing some personal secrets) before they take their leave of the table. It turns out that Issa’s metahuman ability is apparently making others tell the truth (at least when asked a direct question). Although the rest of the Pierce family leave him behind, Jennifer is perhaps a kindred spirit for him. Just like Issa she doesn’t want her powers and, ironically, it’s Jennifer who helps Issa learn to control his powers even as she struggles to find a way to control her own.
Issa does manage to find his way home. Once Lynn understands his powers and explains them to his family they come and take him home, but we also discover that he is, unfortunately, dying. Because his mutation was not natural but forced out by Green Light his body is rejecting the change and in doing so, it is killing him. Lynn is determined to find a cure for him, but he’s not the only meta she has to worry about, with the group in charge of the pod babies waiting eagerly to sink their fingers into them as soon as they discover what each child can do and use them for their own purposes; Lynn must also find a way to protect the children under her care.
Lynn has taken on the responsibility for all of these children and we see two sides of the story there with Issa choosing not to go into a pod (which would keep him cryogenically suspended and prevent the disease from advancing) and Wendy choosing to return to hers. The girl is clearly terrified, but Lynn promises that they will find a way to bring her back into society and the two share a look before Wendy is forced into unconsciousness by the pod. Wendy’s decision to go back into the pod makes sense. It’s been 30 years since she was first put inside of one and her friends and family have moved on without her. She is in an unfamiliar space and that only makes her more dangerous to herself and those around her.
Although Tobias is lurking in the background of this episode he hasn’t been forgotten. Like the Green Light Babies, Tobias has been around for a while and like them, he hasn’t aged. But Tobias hasn’t been in a pod for the past 30 years. We still don’t know what keeps Tobias from aging, but with his closest friend, Syonide, dead, Tobias is now on a mission to eliminate everyone else who has knowledge of his lack of aging. He kills a crooked cop and a friend who lives in a nursing home (paid for by Tobias).
We didn’t get a lot from Anissa this episode, but what we did get I loved. It was fun to see Anissa confident and openly flirting with the cute singer at the club and her confidence pays off as we later find her spending a bit of the morning poolside with her new girlfriend, who invites her on a trip that Anissa declines because she is still in school. We also (finally) see Grace Choi again and she is less than pleased with Anissa’s new romantic life. There’s clearly some hurt feelings there that I can’t wait for us to explore because as much as I love watching Anissa flirt her way around town (and I wouldn’t mind watching her flirt with every available girl in town), I just can’t wait to see the power couple Grace and Anissa are sure to be.
I might have cried during the second episode of Black Lightning’s second season, but boy was it earned. Black Lightning is the rare show that makes you think and feel, and I felt it keenly while watching “Black Jesus Blues”. Jefferson’s demotion is made official as he finally tells the student body (and their parents) that, because of his absence during Khalil’s attack on Garfield High. The students are upset, angry and afraid. Jefferson reassures them that, even though he will no longer be their principal he will remain on as a teacher. Jefferson is obviously upset at having to deliver the news, but it is his students response that brought me to tears. As Jefferson prepares to take his leave from the stage, we hear a voice ask, “Where is the future?” and the call and response is touching. It tells the audience and Jefferson that his impact on the students was felt, was real, and it closed out this episode brilliantly.
There were a lot of shakeups in this episode but I’m excited about what that means for us as the season advances.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.