REVIEW: Black Lightning S2E08 – The Book of Rebellion: Chapter 1: Exodus

This week on Black Lightning season 2 episode 8 “The Book of Rebellion: Exodus” Jennifer (China A McClain) and Khalil’s (Jordan Calloway) hastily executed plan to run away from their problems hit quite a few speed bumps. However, they aren’t the only ones running away from something. Lynn (Christine Adams) continues a dangerous pattern of finding refuge from her problems in a bottle of Scotch. Meanwhile Jefferson (Cress Williams) and Anissa (Nafessa Williams) shift blame on each other. It’s a frenzied race against the clock for a fractured Pierce family to find the troubled youths before Tobias (Marvin KRONDON Jones III) and his newly hired mercenary Cutter (Kearran Giovanni) find them first.

Although running away may have seemed like a fairly simple, straightforward idea at the time, quickly into the episode we get the sense of just how ill-thought out this plan is. They have no clothes, no money, and nowhere to hide out. Unaware that there’s a bounty on his head, Khalil decides to rob the 100 gang for some quick cash. First off, I must say that the visuals of the club fight sequence are amazing. The symbolism of the bull fight playing in the background tied into the red tint of the room and Khalil “seeing red” when he attacked the 100. However, robbing the gang of the man who wants to kill you may not be the best plan in the world. Jennifer quickly emerges as the smarter of the two would be fugitives. She not only saves Khalil from the 100 gang, but she also uses her powers to hot wire a car. She wisely cautions against staying with friends or at a motel, since that is the first place their families will look. Indeed, if not for Jennifer’s powers and quick thinking, Khalil would have died before he could make it out of Freeland.

Jennifer and Khalil wound up on this same journey for very different reasons. Tobias disciplined Khalil through hate and fear. For Khalil, running away meant an escape from abuse. For Jen, on the other hand, running away is an escape from her parents’ controlling, overprotective love.This dichotomy of disciplines, hate and love, and their effects on both Jennifer and Khalil manifest in different ways. When Jennifer wishes to call her parents, Khalil reacts angrily, raising his arm to her in opposition. Although he later apologizes and explains his behavior as a result of his abuse from Tobias, it’s certainly a red flag for me. Jennifer, for her part, makes clear to Khalil that she will “light his ass up” if he ever raises a hand to her again, but this entire relationship just rubs me the wrong way. It’s clear that they care for one another, and they do have some sweet moments through the episode, but I can’t help but wonder if Jennifer’s blind faith in Khalil is more of a liability than an asset.

Back in Freeland, Jefferson, Anissa, and Gambi canvass the streets to find Jennifer, while Lynn reaches out to Police Chief Henderson (Damon Gumpton) for Freeland PD’s help. Jennifer and Khalil made so many mistakes in their escape, you’d think the most inept fugitives in the world would be easy to track. However, Team Pierce is saddled with their own internal issues. Anissa is distracted by her anger at Gambi (James Remar) for faking his death. Last week, Jefferson got the space to be angry at Gambi. Anissa deserved the space to process his return as well; however, in the wake of Jennifer’s disappearance, it seemed like a weird time for Anissa to bring up her anger with his death.

Anissa also butts heads with Jefferson, who tries to shift the blame of his own guilt onto Anissa for not telling them Jennifer was in contact with Khalil. Although Perenna (Erika Alexander) warned him he was pushing his daughter away, in the wake of it actually happening, Jefferson is shell shocked. While patrolling the streets for signs of his daughter, he reacts reflexively by pulling off the windshield of the car of two youths he thinks could be Khalil and Jennifer. When he sees the negative toll Jennifer’s disappearance has on Lynn, he laments that if only Anissa had told them about Khalil, they could have stopped this from happening. However, Anissa pushes back that Jefferson and Lynn’s suffocating love is what drove Jennifer away. Anissa reveals it’s also what drove the wedge between her and Jefferson. There’s clearly still some unresolved feelings there as well. At the moment, the Pierce family is dealing with their issues by putting band-aids over bullet wounds. Those temporary apologies won’t hold forever, and are something they will need to work on as a family moving forward.

While the Pierce family is able to pull together to find Jenn, Tobias, alone and paranoid, is starting to spiral. First he goes to Khalil’s mom, Nichelle (Yolanda T. Ross), to pressure her to contact her son. She refuses, telling Tobias he’d have to kill her first. Luckily for Nichelle, Tobias has a strict “no mamma” rule and she survives the meeting; however, I was initially confused on why he needed to go to her in the first place. Tobias implanted a tracker in Khalil and already knew exactly where he was. But as he later explained to Cutter, the new Tobias is an “upstanding citizen.” In order to protect his image, he can’t go after Khalil himself, so he tried to intimidate Nichelle into flushing Khalil out of hiding. When that didn’t work, and the 100 gang failed, he turned to Cutter to capture Khalil and bring him back alive. It’s unclear what Tobias plans to do if Cutter succeeds in bringing him back. He keeps muttering about “plans” that he has that he doesn’t want Khalil to mess up. He’s also started having imaginary conversations with a painting of Tori hanging on his wall, reminiscent of Lala’s (William Catlett) imaginary conversations with the dead in season 1. Is Tobias just lonely, or is he actually starting to lose his mind?

What did you think of this week’s episode? Leave a comment below!