REVIEW: Black Lightning S1E8 – Revelations

The citizens of Freeland ain’t loyal. In Black Lightning “Revelations” we see the impact of Lady Eve’s (Jill Scott) death. How being implicated in her murder has affected Black Lightning’s relationship with the community. The lightning powered vigilante went from Hero to Menace quicker than you can say “Black Jesus.” It’s certainly a testament to Lady Eve and her influence in the community, but I wonder where this leaves Jefferson (Cress Williams) moving forward. As Jeffeson puts Anissa (Nafessa Williams) through Superhero 101, they are able to track down what was left of the hitman and the weapon used to kill Lady Eve in a shallow grave near the Hampton woods. However, whoever sent the dirty cop ahead to the crime scene wound up blowing up not only the weapon but also the assassin. And without the assassin or murder weapon, they still can’t clear Black Lightning’s name. While this episode felt like it lacked the focus and excitement of the previous two episodes, we do get some movement on a couple major storylines. Jennifer (China A McClain) finally gets her powers, while the weight of Gambi’s (James Remar) sins becomes too much to bear, and a huge mystery behind the connection between Green Light and Jefferson’s powers is finally revealed.

Structurally, this episode seemed to be all over the place. Most of the previous episodes this season followed a pattern that had the main A plot focusing on Jefferson, a B plot for one or both Pierce sisters, and a C plot to check in with the villains, while all other supporting characters acted as the bridge between the storylines connecting the whole episode together. In this episode none of the A, B, or C plots connect together in any meaningful way. Instead, there’s an additional Gambi plot that has to lead back to Jefferson by the end of the episode, which it can’t do without also establishing a side Lynn (Christine Adams) plot to connect the Green Light back to Gambi. As a result it feels like the episode is being pulled in five different directions, and some storylines suffer as a result.

For example, the moment that Jennifer’s latent powers finally activate has been highly anticipated since the pilot; however, I don’t think the revelation of Jennifer’s powers got the space it deserved. Even with a story line meant to bring her into the main plot, it still feels like she’s out of the loop with her family. Rather than spend another scene with Gambi (getting advice from Mrs Johnson on guilt we already know he feels) I’d much rather have another scene with Jennifer maybe scared or nervous about how to come out to her family about her powers (not knowing that her own father and sister have powers as well). Jennifer immediately came to her sister by the end of the episode, and it bothers me that as open as she is with her family, they don’t seem to take her seriously. Sometimes it seems like the show doesn’t either, and I’m uncertain that she will be given the space to develop in the back half of the season the way Anissa was able to in the first half.

In addition to Jennifer’s plot feeling detached from the main plot, Lala’s (William Catlett) scenes with LaWanda’s (Tracey Bonner) ghost had to be the most random and irrelevant to the main plot. The why and how of Lala’s return was the one thing I wanted answers to the most but received none, only more questions and confusion. There doesn’t seem to be a reason why LaLa is back, at least one that he knows of. He waltzes back into his club, and his former employees are just as confused to see him, as I am confused as to how he will tie back into the main arc. And while I understand using LaWanda’s ghost to haunt Lala and illustrate the deterioration of his mental health due to whatever brought him back, I do not understand the kiss in the shower scene. It subverts her purpose as a punishment for Lala for his sins by giving it a sexual undertone, which made me extremely uncomfortable since Lala murdered her. Honestly, if we weren’t going to find out any new details about his resurrection, I would have rather spent the villain plot getting to learn more about Martin Proctor (Gregg Henry) and the ASA, like why, after 30 years, are they restarting the Freeland Project? Gambi’s parking lot meeting with Proctor uncovered a new layer to the mystery, and it would have been nice to get some more insight as to who ASA is, seeing as how that story would have also tied back into Lynn’s discovery of the Green Light vaccine.

Finally, the main revelation of this episode was that Gambi, real name Peter Esposito, finally told Jefferson the truth: disillusioned by the fact that the “Freeland experiment” was killing kids, he leaked information to Alvin Pierce about Green Light and ASA’s operation, which lead to Alvin’s death. In the aftermath of the break in at her lab, Lynn manages to recover the results of her analysis on the white powder sample and confirms it is a vaccine for Green Light created 30 years ago, conveniently around the same time that Gambi moved to Freeland. Lynn gives Gambi the courtesy of telling Jefferson the truth himself. However, I was a little underwhelmed by his confession. It could just be my paranoia, but, seeing as how Gambi has been willing to do anything, including murder, to keep Jefferson in the dark, I still get the feeling he isn’t telling the whole truth. Simply finding metas affected by the Green Light vaccine couldn’t have been his only job. Mr Esposito may still have a few ghosts he needs to answer for before the season is out.

Overall not my favorite episode, but I have no doubt it can get back on track. Let me know what you thought in the comments!