REVIEW: Black Lightning 2.10 – “The Book of Rebellion: Chapter 3 Angelitos Negros”

Back from Winter hiatus, Black Lightning returns with the final chapter of my least favorite “book” this season. In “The Book of Rebellion: Chapter 3- Angelitos Negros” Jennifer (China A McClain) and Khalil (Jordan Calloway) realize they can’t run away from their problems forever. Seeing as how I never understood why, with the threat of Tobias (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) looming dangerously near, Jennifer would continue to run away from her family rather than ask for help, this moment was long overdue. The Pierce family finally reunited, they make a plan to ensure Khalil’s safety. Cutter (Kearran Giovanni) is still alive after all, and has a score to settle with the runaway couple. Meanwhile Tobias’ plans for Freeland take a huge step forward with the help of his newest recruit, Todd (RJ Cryer), when they discover the ASA’s abandoned MoD project. Let’s break down this episode by dissecting the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Good

Most of the episode focused on Jennifer and Khalil’s…complicated….relationship history, and McClain and Calloway each pulled their emotional weight in every scene. Narrowly escaping Cutter in the barn, Khalil takes Jennifer back to more familiar territory, an abandoned train car he re-fashioned into a makeshift apartment. Getting a rare look into Khalil’s space, littered with artistic drawings, you get a glimpse of the person he could have become. Being in that space also allowed Jennifer and Khalil to finally have an honest conversation about why their relationship fell apart. He gives her back her necklace, and, in one of McClain’s best scenes of the night, Jennifer tearfully breaks down over how overwhelmed she feels and her worries about their safety on the run. Later in the episode, before turning himself in Khalil apologizes for blaming Jennifer as the reason he was at the march that fateful night. It showed a lot of growth for the character. Plus, it was important for Jennifer to hear, because I think much of her unwavering loyalty to Khalil stems from the guilt she felt thinking she was the cause of his misfortune. There’s a tone of hopefulness and future possibilities in their goodbyes to each other, which only underscores the tragedy that’s about to befall them. Finally, in McClain’s other top rated performance, Jennifer’s emotional response to Lynn telling her Khalil was kidnapped from police custody was heartbreaking to watch.

Jennifer and Khalil’s romance may have met a tragic end, but the villains’ stories are just getting started. Tobias has taken Todd under his wing. It’s weird to see the stark difference in Tobias’ relationship with Todd compared to his abusive relationship with Khalil. With Todd, Tobias seems patient and down right congenial. After educating his new young protege on the history of Jazz as the foundation of Black excellence, he tasks Todd on a mission. He wants Todd to crack a firewall on the briefcase he stole from the ASA all the way back in the S1 finale. All of Tobias’ seemingly random real-estate purchases and the clinic he’s determined to procure used to be old ASA ops sites. The pieces of the puzzle become clear when Todd discovers the ASA used the clinic to distribute its initial vaccine. Also, housed somewhere beneath the clinic rests the ASA’s abandoned MoD project: 4 very powerful meta humans nicknamed the Masters of Disaster. It’s not hard to imagine what Tobias’ next move will be.

The Bad

While this was a standout episode for the youngest daughter, members of the Pierce family not named Jennifer definitely suffered. We’ve been watching Jefferson (Cress Williams), Anissa (Nafessa Williams), and Gambi (Peter Remar) run circles over Freeland while Lynn tearfully waited for the phone to ring in her depressed corner of Jennifer’s trashed room for the past two episodes. Again, this episode, they had nothing to do other than wait until Jennifer and Khalil decided to grace them with their presence. In addition to scenes being repetitive, the family dynamic definitely felt strained. Jefferson was not pleased that Lynn went to see Khalil’s father to get information on his whereabouts by herself. When Jefferson and Gambi suggest pairing off to search possible hideouts, Lynn insists on everyone searching separately, cocking her shot gun for emphasis. I don’t know if Lynn yelled her impassioned plea at every abandoned warehouse and train depot she visited, or if she just got lucky. Either way, I was as relieved as the rest of the family when they came home to find Jennifer waiting.

The Ugly

Cutter, looking to redeem herself, tracks Khalil’s implant to the train car, but just misses catching the two runaways. She gets another chance when Tobias gets a tip about Khalil’s prison transport, and she manages to take out the entire SWAT team and deliver Khalil to Tobias as promised. Although Khalil puts on a brave face to protect Jennifer from any retribution from Tobias he’s unable to save himself. Their long-running conflict concludes in the ugliest way possible with Tobias ripping out Khalil’s AI implanted spine from his back. To add insult to (spine) injury, Tobias has Cutter and Todd dispose of Khalil, dying and in pain, in front of Reverend Holt’s (Clifton Powell) church. It’s a message and a threat, and, now that Tobias knows just what’s hidden beneath the clinic, it’s a threat he’s more than willing to make good on.