"The Book of Secrets: Chapter Two: Just and Unjust" – Black Lightning S02E12 Review

And so Black Lightning continues to show some improvement with "Just and Unjust" as it returns to two of things I've been saying it should return to: the ASA and Garfield High. We also get Anissa returning to her masked vigilante ways to get some money to pay for Khalil's funeral and to help out a woman being beaten up by a 100 Gang capo.

We also get the fallout from Khalil's death. Jennifer spends a lot of time mourning, and as noted Nichelle doesn't have the money to pay for Khalil's funeral. What happened to the money Khalil stole from the 100 club back at the beginning of Book of Rebellion? Heck, didn't he give any money to his mother from when he was working with Tobias? What a cheapskate.

Chantal Thuy, Black Lightning S02E12

The creative team also returned to Grace, she of the crawling arm tattoos and the on-again/off-again relationship with Anissa. Which I guess is on again, after her visit to the hospital last week while Khalil was dying.

But what all happened? First we get a rather confusing opening where Anissa and Lynn are coming out of some kind of big-box grocery store. I have no idea why, They each have a piddly little bag of groceris. Masked men shoot Anissa and grab Lynn, but Agent Odell (Bill Duke) is nearby and shoots them dead. The bad guy driver gets away, and Odell's men haul away the bodies. Anissa is okay, because she instinctively increased her skin density when the bullet hit.

They go to the sanctum and Lynn patches up Anissa. Jeff and Peter look on, and Peter then confirms Odell hasn't bugged the house and is only following Lynn. Personally? Poor guy needs more underlings to do the legwork for him. Lynn goes to confront Odell, who is being hauled around on a golf cart in ASA HQ. He says he still doesn't trust her and basically tells her to bug off.

Jennifer is moping around the Pierce house, and has a heart-to-heart with Anissa about Khalil's death. And I'm still liking the chemistry between China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams.

Day and night go by several times throughout these scenes, and I lost all sense of time. Lynn is still hitting the bottle, and makes some snide comments to Jeff about how she doesn't know normal because she married him. But then backtracks and says she loves him. I'm not sure if they're going somewhere with this or not. The two of them getting back together just seemed to happen, but that's a problem that started in season 1. They do decide to let Jennifer go back to Garfield because she hates homeschooling and being kept prisoner in her own home.

We then get Jennifer at Garfield. There is a nice bit where she comes in through Lowry's metal detectors and can see the electricity in them. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything and doesn't foreshadow anything later in the episode. It's just a reminder Jennifer has powers and she sees the world differently. How often do we see Barry on The Flash see things with his super-accelerated eyesight? Particularly when it's not relevant to the plot?

A bunch of students have created a memorial at Khalil's locker. Which seems a little odd, as Lowry will gaslight later. Khalil led a meta attack on the school, and the students are memorializing him? We get at least one night scene, so the next day Lowry orders the memorial taken down. Jennifer collects the stuff and makes her own memorial in front of the trophy case. The students show up and capture Lowry on video as he arrives with security and orders Jennifer to move it or lose it. She refuses and calls him racist, and he has her taken away as the students take a knee. Jeff looks on and in a neat bit, tells Lowry it's his job as principal when Lowry asks Jeff to deal with it.

Unfortunately, writer Charles D. Holland doesn't leave it at that quiet moment of defiance. Jeff then storms into Lowry's office and complains about how Lowry dealt with it after ... Jeff told him to deal with it. Mixed messages much? Lowry complains about how he had a rough upbringing but everyone judges him as a rich white man even though he had a heroin addict for a father, lived on the streets, and ate dog food. And I don't know if we're supposed to sympathize with Lowry or even believe what he's saying, given he's such a dickweed. He says he has no sympathy for the students, which doesn't endear him to me. Jeff says "Nice talk" and walks out, so he comes across as a bit of a dickweed, too. Maybe Lowry didn't ask for the job, was given orders whether he agreed with them or not, and is just trying to do the best he can. But that would be too two-sided for the show.

Nafissa Williams, Kelvin Witherspoon, Black Lightning S02E12

Meanwhile, Anissa is working at the hospital and tends to a woman Monique who was beaten up by her boyfriend and 100 capo, Rayvon. Nobody at the hospital dares report Rayvon, so Anissa puts on a mask, goes after him, beats him and his gang up. Rayvon sprays her with mace and her thugs get the upper hand on Anissa until she thunderclaps them down and leaves with Rayvon's drug money. She then goes to the funeral home and gives the money to the funeral director.

During all of this, Odell tells Jace he needs her to help Lynn move the pods and in return will protect her from the Markovians. The Markovians were the people who tried to abduct Lynn at the beginning, because they want her metahuman expertise for their own metahuman project. She agrees to help. Meanwhile, Peter IDs the driver and Black Lightning takes out him and his Markovian buddies. He then makes a quick call to Inspector Bill, who barely grunts into the phone before BL tells him he has someone to pick up.

Cut to the funeral, and Jennifer refuses to get out of the car and go to Khalil's casket. Jeff gives her a speech about how they're Pierces and Pierces honor the people they love. Did they have that much of a funeral for Peter? And then they go to the casket. In the end, Jennifer watches them lower Khalil's casket into the ground and Odell is watching her.

Throughout all of this, Tobias has been doing not much except listening to Todd exposition. The Masters of Disaster are ASA black op metas who started committing war crimes and got sent to Leavenworth. And then somehow ended up in the pods at the clinic. Todd can't revive them because the equipment is so old, so Tobias figures he needs Jace to do it.

Also, Grace (Chantal Thuy) and Anissa started to get closer. But then Grace's eyes changed color and the tattoos on her arms started crawling. So she runs off and when Anissa gets to Grace's apartment, discovers she's gone and taken her clothes with her.

Erika Alexander, Black Lightning S02E12

Oh, we also got a scene of two Markovians trying to grab Perenna (Erika Alexander) and her making them think they're freezing in winter via her mind powers. It tells us nothing about Perenna, or how the Markovians know about her, or whether she's a vaccine meta like Jeff or something else. Or anything.

As I noted, we got to see the Freeland community again. I'm still not convinced they knew what to do with Khalil, and they took the easy way out by killing off the character. I could almost buy his heel-turn from Tobias lackey to Jennifer's love interest and anti-Tobias. But having the students memorialize him seems strange. Lowry is right: they're honoring a gang member and a guy who attacked the school, including some of the students. Yes, he died tragically. But he brought it on himself. As Jennifer notes, Khalil worked for Tobias to get uncrippled and most of the students would do the same. But nobody seems bothered by the fact Khalil attacked the school. I don't expect them all to hate Khalil, but it's framed smply as a Jennifer-versus-Lowry debate and everyone is on Jennifer's side because she's a main character.

Khalil reminds me of Todd now. A good guy (sorta) who Tobias has corrupted. If they try to heel-turn Todd, it'll be even less convincing. I'm a bit tired of Todd as well: he seems to have gone from college student to eager-to-please Tobias lackey in record time.

Jennifer Riker, Black Lightning S02E12

I find Jennifer Riker as Jace a bit more amusing as time goes by. It's pretty standard semi-villainous snottiness (her "You can thank me later" and hand wave to Lynn tonight), but it gives her a personality. The personality is better than the generic TV mad scientist Jace started off as.

If they go somewhere with Lynn's drinking and the stress of her marriage, I'll be happy. Otherwise it's wasted foreshadowing. Or maybe she'll get more to do with the whole Markovian/pod kid plot. She's been at loose ends this season since they dropped the ASA angle. Now that they're returning to it, maybe she'll have more to do.

I'm looking forward to seeing the Masters of Disaster. Let's hope the hype matches the characters when they actually appear. Ditto for Grace and her meta abilities when they finally show up. The Grace thing seems to have dragged on forever, and the Masters of Disaster are starting to drag as well. Maybe it's the extended season: episode 12 of season 1 was the penultimate episode. We're on episode 12 of season 2 and it seems like we've been waiting forever for a few shoes to drop.

But that's a problem with CW superhero shows in general: they drag them out to fill a full season. I don't think it's necessarily how many episodes a show has: the Netflix Marvel shows drag along at 13 episodes, and even The Defenders had long spots of not much happening. It seems like the writing is ... bloated. They could have dropped the entire Books of Blood/Looker three-parter and if they had, it would have changed nothing.

And yes, Rob Hardy, James Spies, Lamont Magee, and Keli Goff are still on the crew this week, after showing up for the first time last week. And yes, Black Lightning is still improved over The Books of Blood and Rebellion. Maybe it takes a few weeks to turn the ship around. Maybe it's the fact Charles D. Holland wrote tonight's episode, and he hasn't written an episode since S02E02. Which is about when the show went off on some pointless detours. Perhaps Holland (also an executive producer) took a step away to work on some other project?

So hopefully with Holland back to writing, the creative team is going to keep things moving at a steady pace. I hope they pay off some of the plot-lines -- like Grace -- instead of dragging them out even further.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

Written by Gislef on Feb 5, 2019

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