REVIEW: Black Lightning S1E10- Sins of the Father: The Book of Redemption

In Black Lightning “Sins of the Father: The Book of Redemption,” kids are being kidnapped again on the streets of Freeland, but Jefferson’s (Cress Williams) strained relationship with Gambi (James Remar) makes it difficult for the hero to admit he needs his help. We still don’t know what the ASA intends to do with these kids; however, following up on a tip from Gambi, Anissa (Nafessa Williams) finds the warehouse where they’re being kept in a cryogenic state but not dead as previously thought. Unfortunately Black Lightning and Thunder’s rescue attempt catches the attention of Martin Proctor (Gregg Henry) and the ASA. Jefferson winds up revealing his identity to save Gambi’s life. However, in the most surprising plot twist, the audience learns of Vice Principal Ms. Fowdy’s (Skye P Marshall) duplicitousness when she’s revealed to be working as the ASA’s new “spotter”!

It be ya own Vice Principals…

As this episode’s title suggests, when faced with their past transgressions, some characters find hope on the path to redemption, while another continues to devolve further into darkness. The past few episodes we’ve seen Gambi’s motives shift from selfishly trying to cover up his own guilt to taking accountability for his mistakes. Gambi confronts his sins head on when he’s picked up by the ASA and tortured to give up the identity of Black Lightning. I believe in Gambi’s journey to redemption, but Jefferson is not so easily convinced. Both Anissa and Lynn (Christine Adams) attempt to bridge the divide between Jefferson and Gambi, but it takes Jefferson seeing the lengths Gambi was willing to go through to protect his identity to soften his heart. This feels like a satisfying resolution to their tension, and I’m glad it wasn’t stretched out too long seeing as how Jefferson is definitely going to need Gambi’s help moving forward. Additionally, 2 Bits (Jason Louder) and Lala’s (William Catlett) son Malik (Caleb Thomas) also find redemption for their past sins through their encounters with Jefferson. The return of 2 Bits was a welcome surprise. His scenes brought some lighthearted moments to a somewhat tension filled episode; though MVP goes to the woman dropping appliances from her window to try to knock out Black Lightning and collect the reward money to pay her bills. After his last run-in with Black Lightning, 2 Bits is trying to make good on his promises to stop selling drugs and get his life together. When he witnesses a student get kidnapped after she exhibits strange powers from the Green Light she took, he goes immediately to Jefferson for help and later winds up providing Black Lightning with information that the trucks carrying the kidnapped kids never left Freeland.

Similarly, when we last saw Malik, he shot red paint from a water pistol at Jennifer to intimidate her into silence following her kidnapping. This time, with some help and encouragement from Jefferson, he decides to make a change for his young life, attending a weekend school program that I’m pretty sure Jefferson just made up so he could get Malik off the streets. The positive change in both 2 Bits and Malik just goes to show Jefferson’s power to impact lives both as Black Lightning and as the principal of Garfield High.

Some light reading?

Contrastingly, Lala has also received a second chance at life, but has no intention of finding redemption. His sins continue to follow him quite literally this week, but this time, instead of Lawanda, it’s Will (Dabier) haunting his thoughts. Will tries to elicit some sense of remorse from Lala for his crimes, but instead Lala grows more detached and violent, putting up his own mother’s life as collateral in a drug deal and brutally murdering a 100 Gang member who expressed concerns about following a man who talks to imaginary friends. The last time we saw Lala, I was confused about the how and why of his resurrection and Lawanda’s presence. I’m still confused, but I did notice the book Lala’s reading, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, and wonder if that might provide a clue to his own resurrection. Egyptian mythology holds a very elaborate belief regarding spirits, and a quick Wikipedia search will tell you that the Book of the Dead includes a series of magical spells and funerary texts detailing how to prepare for resurrection in the afterlife and the different parts of the soul, including the ka (spirit) of a person that leaves the body after death to roam the earth. Black Lightning writers delved into African mysticism once before this season with albino dust. I’m certainly no expert, but given Lala’s mysterious resurrection and haunting by the spirits of people he’s murdered, his choice of reading material seems like more than just a coincidence…

Finally, although Jennifer (China A McClain) may not have any sins to atone for, her powers feel more like a curse from the Devil no matter how hard her sister tries to insist otherwise. Anissa continues to try to push advice onto people that don’t seem to want it, and I have to say I think she crossed the line when she tried to guilt shame Jennifer, throwing her quitting track, family, and Khalil in her face, for not wanting to use her powers. I know the only reason the writers went that far was to get to Jennifer’s emotional power surge, which would lead to the medical check with Lynn to discover the nature of Jennifer’s powers. Whereas Jefferson’s powers work as a battery, pulling electricity from the atmosphere around him, Jennifer’s powers act as a generator of pure energy. However, even though Anissa apologized, her accusations still left a bad taste in my (and Jennifer’s) mouth. Jefferson’s talk with Jennifer afterwards, stressing to her that her powers and life were her own helped to smooth out the situation, but I expect this ideological divide between sisters to linger for a while.

Share your Lala theories and general episode thoughts in the comments below!