Red Stewart reviews the eighth episode of Black Lightning season 2…
“The Book of Rebellion: Exodus.” Read that again. Never before has Black Lightning produced an episode with a title so apt in both its Biblical stem and chapter subheading. Jennifer and Khalil are on an exodus, simultaneously running and rebelling against their respective caretakers, Tobias Whale and Jefferson Pierce. As I mentioned before in my review of last week’s “The Sange,” this was a development that could have failed had it been implemented earlier, but we have seen, over the course of these past two seasons, the writers lay the bread crumbs for this eventuality. Khalil was being physically and mentally abused by Tobias; Jennifer was cut off from social interaction and treated like a prisoner by her parents. Combine these negativities with typical teenage angst and what adolescent wouldn’t act our irrationally at some point?
The best part is this is the only story told. There’s nothing about the Sange or the Perdi or Gambi’s assassins or Grace Choi or anything else. Not since the pilot have we seen the show focus on a purely linear plot, with the writing team instead homing in on the family drama brought about by the runaways, as well Gambi’s quick reemergence into the Pierce family. Questions emerge about who is to blame for Jennifer’s untimely departure, emotions run loose as everyone falls to instinctual reactions, and ultimately no one is sure how to find them.
Part of the problem with reviewing a single storyline is that it can be hard to delve into the details without revealing spoilers. Though there are a lot of cliche obstacles that sprout up during Jennifer and Khalil’s odyssey, China Anne McClain and Jordan Calloway make the best of their scenes together, showing that that bond we saw in season one hasn’t eroded in spite of everything that’s happened. It was also nice to see Jennifer continue to use her powers in ways that differentiate her significantly from her father.
Elsewhere, Tobias is on the hunt. Khalil was a million-dollar investment, and not only has he failed to pay off, but he has outright bit the hand that fed him. I’m more than aware of just how much praise I’ve been lavishing on Krondon these past episodes, but can you honestly blame me? He’s not just a meathead cast because he looks intimidating- this man can act, and act he does. His private musings with his dead sister Tori are sympathetic while his threats to Khalil’s mother are nerve-wracking. A scene towards the end of “Exodus” hints at greater things to come for the character, and I full expect Krondon to deliver it perfectly.
Alongside everything, a new villain is introduced in the form of a contract killer named Cutter. She’s portrayed by Kearran Giovanni, and while I wasn’t a big fan of her performance, I was a fan of the character. She’s apparently a meta, with strength and speed to match Khalil as well as an uncanny eye for knife throwing. I can’t say whether she will be a recurring character in the vein of Syonide or a “villain of the week” like Looker was. However, I can say that she at least made for some interesting action set pieces.
Overall, “Exodus” was an entertaining episode. I wish it had had more thriller elements and not relied on hackneyed tropes like the “couple is driven to commit robbery” we’ve seen in projects like Thelma & Louise, but it more than worked as a part of the larger second season, which doesn’t appear to have much focus regardless.
Rating – 7/10