"The Book of Secrets: Chapter Four: Original Sin" – Black Lightning S02E14 Review

That was good. Weird, but good.

"Original Sin" was a bit of a catch-up episode. Which it seems like a lot of "The Book of Secrets" has been. This time we checked in with Lala (Will Catlett) from season 1. He's still being brought back from the dead and has the images of people he's killed, intentional or not, burned into his stomach skin. What he has to do with anything is anybody's guess. Or the informed knowledge of someone smarter than me.

Will Catlett, Black Lighthing S02E14

Lala shows up in Jeff's classroom, at an empty Garfield although according to a clock on the wall it's 4:20. And light is coming in through the windows. The high school appears to be empty, and Lala wants to talk to Jeff about a former student that Lala can/can't remember: Earl. Lala is also haunted by the "ghosts" of Lawanda and Will from season one. They have vague conversations, the ghosts argue with each other and fight, Lala shoots Jeff in the shoulder, and eventually Jeff brings up a yearbook photo of Earl. Lala remembers he killed Earl because Earl wouldn't go along with The 100 and Lala wanted to prove he was a player. And then... he walks out of the classroom.

As Lala drives through the night, he remembers being brought back to life by a weird old man (Michael Wright). The resurrectionist says that once Lala works through his pain, he'll be able to get redemption and maybe die for good. Cut back to Lala, who is telling Lawanda and Will that he's going to kill Tobias and free Freeland.

That's the main plot. Sort of, because there really isn't a main plot. In other plots, Peter is designing a new suit for Jennifer. The show's humor is here as he reveals Jeff's old costume (the comic book version), and explains that it was killing Jeff so he made a new costume. Peter eventually makes a foundation suit for Jennifer but it doesn't do a very good job of containing her powers.

Nafessa Williams, Black Lighthing S02E14

Jennifer earlier told her sister Anissa to find Grace. Grace takes her advice and with Peter's help finds the address of Grace's foster brother. It gets kind of confusing at this point because the end credits and the closed captioning say the guy an old man (so where is the brother?). But he's apparently a shapeshifted Grace as we see in one scene of her alone. After the old man tells Anissa to leave, she comes back as Thunder, finds a rotting disemboweled corpse on the apartment floor, and fights the old man. He manages to hold his own against Thunder thanks to some acupuncture strikes. When Thunder gets the upper hand, Grace/the old man flees out the window.

In yet another subplot, Lynn refuses to treat the Green Light Babies as anything less than human. Agent Odell (Bill Duke) disagrees with her, locks her out of the lab, and puts air telekineticist Wendy (Madison Bailey) through her paces. If I was Lynn, I'd quit, and it sure seems like Odell fired her. What can she do for the ASA project if Odell locks her out of her lab?

At the end of the day all the Pierces go home to have pizza and commiserate. Unaware that Odell and his ASA technicians are secretly watching them. Once Odell confirms the surveillance video is secure, he shoots the technicians dead. Because Odell is a dick.

In yet another pretty minor subplot, Inspector Bill finds out Todd is dead. He checks in with Peter, who has found out nothing about those radioactive canisters they found missing an episode or two ago.

Will Catlett, Black Lighthing S02E14

It's hard to coherently review "Original Sin" because there's a lot going on and we're not too invested in it. The main plot, I think, is Lala and Jeff. And the bits where Jeff tries to help his former student are good. But it's hard to be interested in a secondary character when he spends most of his time with amnesia about his past. It's been 14 episodes and a season finale since we last saw Lala, and they didn’t seem to know what to do with him even then. Now he's back, and it's just more fuel on the garbage fire that is Season 2 of Black Lightning. We've got metas, and the ASA, and Looker, and a redneck East Freeland, and Cutter, and that teleporter guy who we haven't seen. And now we got a guy who can't be killed and spends time watching ghosts that only he can see and hear fight each other.

The Jennifer/suit storyline is amusing, and it's good to see Jennifer finally embrace her family heroism. She has the attitude that Anissa used to have.

The Anissa/Grace thing has gone on for quite a while and it doesn't look like it's going to resolve anytime soon. Now Grace is a shapeshifter and a martial arts expert who does something with corpses? I'll admit, I didn't see that coming.

The Lynn/ASA thing is pretty standard "Evil government organization against heroic main star" trope. It's not bad, but it's not good, either. It's just... there. It doesn't help that the ASA is basically the same big ole bag of dicks that it was last year, except with Bill Duke instead of Gregg Henry. Jeff quotes Santayana and his line about not learning from the past, but nobody seems to have learned from the city's past with the ASA because the ASA are up to the same old tricks, weaponizing metas and killing people who get in their way. Including their own people. If Odell is willing to kill loyal technicians, why doesn't he just have Lynn killed? He locked her away from the Green Light Babies this episode, and she shouldn’t continue working for the ASA. So why not give her a permanent "retirement"?

James Remar, Black Lighthing S02E14

But we do get a return to Lala, who pretty much disappeared down the memory hole after the season 1 finale. And we get some funny jibes at Peter's costume-making skills. And we see the Pierces back together. It seems a little odd after Jennifer and Anissa (still the best sisters on network TV) have been complaining about how their parents are too over-protective. But I'd rather see the Pierces as a family than apart. The "family" concept works a lot better than on tonight's Arrow, where the characters keep mentioning how they're a family and will do anything for family every five minutes. Show, don't tell, TV writers.

No sign of Tobias. If you're not a fan of Marvin Jones III, that's probably a relief. Without him, IMO there's no central threat for the characters to focus on. Having him get mentioned second-hand is okay for one episode, but let's not make a habit of it.

Overall, "Original Sin" seemed like another in the show's holding pattern of episodes in an expanded-length season. I said back when "The Book of Secrets" started that it seemed like they would finally move the plot along. They haven't and I wish they would.

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

Written by Gislef on Mar 5, 2019

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