REVIEW: Black Lightning S2E2 – The Book of Consequences: Chapter 2: Black Jesus Blues

The Green Light Babies are starting to awaken, and that causes all kinds of problem’s for our heroes in Black Lightning season 2 episode 2 “The Book of Consequences: Chapter 2: Black Jesus Blues.” The effects of Green Light on the children of Freeland become more apparent. Whereas the Green Light babies just want to reconnect to family and people familiar to their past, Tobias (Marvin “Krondon” III) spent this episode eliminating people from his. Khalil (Jordan Calloway) learns the hard way what it means to align with Tobias and the consequences that has on his relationship with Jennifer (China A McClain). Meanwhile, Jefferson (Cress Williams) continues to struggle with his decision to step down as principal of Garfield High, and he and Anissa (Nafessa Williams) continue to struggle to be on the same page as Black Lightning and Thunder.

Music plays a particularly important role in the opening sequence, telling the story all of the characters dance to in one way or another. As Tobias and Khalil review the events of Syonide’s death, the jazz music in the background is smooth, calculated, echoing Tobias’ frame of mind as he punishes Khalil for “letting that bitch take my queen.” A transition in the music to a more up tempo rhythm also echoes a transition of scenes to the awakening of the pod kids. One wakes up, confused, and kills one of the scientists with fire breathing-like powers before collapsing and dying himself. His awakening signals the awakening of another pod kid, Wendy Hernandez (Madison Bailey). The hurried, scattered cadence of the music lends to the disorientation Wendy’s frame of mind, awakening 30 years in the future with no idea where she is or what’s happening. The music keeps building in its frenzy, heightening tension within the scene until Wendy finally uses, what Gambi (James Remar) later dubs, her neurokenisis, which gives her the ability to control wind, to break out of the lab and into the unknown. Black Lightning episode soundtracks always hit it out of the park, but using music as a storytelling device really paid off here and set the tone for the rest of the episode.

Elsewhere, Anissa is lead by a different kind of music. Teased by her sister that she needed to get out more, Anissa meets and approaches singer Zoe (Andy Allo) after her lounge performance. After a short lived flirt-mance between Anissa and Grace (Chantal Thuy), Anissa’s love life in season one seemed pretty non-existent. So, I had forgotten just how bold Anissa can be. She’s overly confident (cocky) in her approach, but it works for her. While it’s fun watching Anissa the “lady killer” charm her way into rooftop pools and jet setting invitations to New York for dim sum, it’s not so fun watching Grace react to seeing Anissa with someone new. I didn’t ask for this kind of angst! While Anissa’s cockiness may work well when it comes to picking up girls, Jefferson sees it as more of a hindrance as a superhero. While they’re supposed to be working together to clean up the damage Wendy left in her wake, Anissa takes the opportunity to showboat a little for onlookers, which leads Jefferson to believe that she doesn’t take their roles seriously. Their different work styles come to a head over a contentious family dinner thanks to a very special guest.

Issa Williams (Miles Truitt), who was killed by police and miraculously resurrected in the season premiere, is dealing with the harsh realities of his powers, which compels anyone he locks eyes with to tell the truth. Agent Odell (Bill Duke) sees Issa as a tool. He wants Lynn (Christine Adams) to use her research to learn how to control Issa for the ASA; however, Lynn uses the opportunity to make a connection, going as far as to invite him over for family dinner. Bringing a human truth serum into a house of secret superheroes might not be the best idea Lynn has ever had, but, in the midst of everything, Issa finds a kindred spirit in Jennifer, who also  is having issues with controlling her powers. Jennifer being able to help Issa figure out the limits to his power acts as a kind of therapy for both of them. Relief is short lived for Issa, who finds out from Lynn that the artificially created meta gene that gave him powers is also destabilizing his cells, slowly killing him. The stakes are now raised for all of the Green Light babies: put to sleep in a pod until a cure can be made, or death. In the end, Issa chooses to make the most of his life for as long as he has it on the outside, while Wendy chooses to return to the safety of the pod. Jennifer, Issa, and Wendy are just the first, in what I expect will be a season-long theme of lost kids who are awakening to powers that they don’t understand or can’t control. A lot of their future depends on the influences in their life, whether they have a Lynn or Jefferson looking out for them versus a Tobias.

Finally, following up on his decision to step down as Principal of Garfield High School, Jefferson learns the school board has elected to hire Mike Lowry, a white man, to be the new principal of predominately Black Garfield High. Welcoming Lowry as some sort of “white savior” is a particularly bitter pill for Jefferson to swallow. However, Jefferson can at least remain on staff as a teacher to influence the lives of his students. And, if the students reciting Jefferson’s mantra to him at the assembly are any indication: you can take Jefferson Pierce out of the school, but it won’t be so easy to take the lessons of Jefferson Pierce out of the students.

Miscellaneous: I love change of the season 2 title sequences to black and white (and red) title cards. It seems more comicbook-y and lends to the comic elements of the show.