"The Book of the Apocalypse: Chapter One: The Alpha" – Black Lightning S02E15 Review

nd so with "Chapter One: The Alpha" we come to the beginning of a new chapter of Black Lightning. And the penultimate episode of season 2. Which means that next week is the finale. So just when the chapter is warming up, the season will end.

And "The Book of the Apocalypse" does look promising. But I've said that before and been burned. And hey, that's two heat-related comments in two paragraphs. The episode must have rubbed off on me. Left some burn scars, so to speak.

Cress Williams, Black Lightning S02E15

We start with a Pierce family meeting where Jeff lectures his daughters on how not killing is a bad thing. That seems like an odd discussion to be having when one is a grown woman and the other is a high school student. Granted, the conversation is mostly directed at Jennifer, since we haven't seen Anissa threaten to kill anyone that I recall. Both daughters shrug and give their agreement in that half-hearted way which means that we in the audience know that they don't really mean it.

The creative team then goes off on several different tangents. The main focus is the Masters of Disaster, as Jace brings the remaining three members out of their pods. And thus we get introduced to Heatstroke (Esteban Cueto), Coldsnap (Derrick Lewis), and New Wave (Brooke Ence). They're not too happy to be taking orders from Tobias, but Tobias takes them down with the implant devices.

Anissa is still pursuing the mystery of the mysterious Asian "old man" from last week and the apartment with the half-eaten (horse) corpse in it. Peter figures Grace is a shapeshifting meta, although what that has do with super martial arts and a half-eaten horse, I don't know. The tailor does suggest Grace might be a horse, which... huh?

James Remar, Black Lightning S02E15

Oh, and a shout out to James Remar as Peter, and (this week missing) Damon Gupton as Inspector Bill. They at least seem to be having fun with their parts. And China Anne McClain to some degree, although it's hard to tell how much is her just playing a part. She doesn't seem to quite have the "wink at the camera" attitude that Remar and Gupton do.

Peter is testing out Jennifer's new suit, which does a lot of technobabble-y stuff. Meanwhile, Peter is also trying to track down those missing mildly radioactive pods. He gets an address, and Jennifer gets it. This all ties together when Tobias sends out Heatstroke to spread some fiery chaos while selling the services of his meta army on the darknet.

Black Lightning and Thunder take on Heatstroke, and apparently electrical fields stop fire. Comic book physics, everyone. Jace convinces Tobias to call Heatstroke back rather than let him get defeated by Black Lightning. Jennifer steals her not-quite-finished protective suit and goes to the address, and Tobias and Cutter escape.

Why are they escaping? In part because in a very loosely connected subplot, Lala goes hunting for them. It turns out the guy who resurrected him (Michael Wright) is called Lazarus. Beats "Fred", I suppose. Lazarus can resurrect the dead and both worked for Lady Eve and was her lover. Lazarus wants revenge on Tobias for killing Lady Eve and sends Lala. Lala now can't be killed at all, rather than being killed and then resurrected in a tank. He goes after Cutter, who can't stop him, and she flees with Tobias.

Oh, and Tobias is sexist as well as racist. "The only thing worse than a loud-mouthed Negro is a loud-mouthed white woman."

Bill Duke, Black Lightning S02E15

Oh, and we see more of ASA Agent Odell doing sneaky stuff: watching Anissa as she changes clothes, and listening to a not-very-veiled phone conversation between Lynn and Jennifer. At the end he drops a few hints to Lynn that he knows Jeff and Anissa are Black Lightning and Thunder. Odell also relents about using Wendy (Madison Bailey) as a soldier. What this all means, and how/if it will be resolved in next week's finale episode, who knows? Wendy is a non-Hispanic and a member of the Masters of Disaster in the comics, but I don't see how her path will cross with Tobias' goon squad.

Overall, "The Alpha" was a decent entry in the show's season 2 portfolio. We finally get to see the full roster of Masters of Disaster. It doesn't seem like Tobias' plan is that coherent: do five metas really make an "army" that one can sell to the highest bidder? The Pierces are still doing family stuff: there's a conversation between Jennifer and Jeff as they go out to eat that's better than the earlier "family meeting" spot. I find it pleasantly different to listen to Jeff talk about his powers being a gift/burden from God. You don't hear Barry talking about why God gave him his powers over on The Flash.

There's also another conversation between Lynn and Jennifer, when Lynn asks Jennifer to talk to Wendy about controlling superpowers, that shines. The show works best when it deals with the Pierce family, including Peter.

Mostly it seems like the season is ending too soon. Granted, I don't think they need a full 22-23 episodes to wrap things up. But they've spent a lot of time spinning their wheels on things like Looker and Redneck Freeland. A lot of it throughout has been watching Tobias build up his plans, and Jennifer running off with Khalil. Both of which ultimately went nowhere in those episodes: we're just now getting some payoff. We haven't heard much about Looker and her people. And Khalil is dead and Jennifer is back with her family. Yes, Khalil's death is driving Jennifer's need for vengeance. But did we need three episodes of them running away and then coming back to set that up? Ditto for Tobias. He recruits Todd, and then kills Todd and Todd doesn't seem to do much for Tobias' operation. Thanks for introducing a relatively shallow character and then blowing him up.

Plus Peter notes that blowing up cars is Tobias' MO. I'm sure Jeff's father, who was killed by having his news story literally stuffed down his throat, would be glad to hear that. Or Khalil, who had his spine ripped out. Or Rev. Holt, who was poisoned.

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

Written by Gislef on Mar 12, 2019

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