Red Stewart reviews the tenth episode of Black Lightning season 2…
Despite all the praise I’ve heaped on the cast in past episodes (particularly towards Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III and Jordan Calloway), I don’t think I’ve ever singled out China Anne McClain for her performance. She’s arguably had the hardest job out of all the cast members- whilst say Tobias has had to primarily convey uber-menacing, Jennifer has had to go through the whole spectrum of emotes: fear, sadness, happiness, love, lust, naivety, etc….This is something a good actress alone would have a tough time with, but McClain has consistently gone above and beyond with her acting, showing us that same seamless maneuverability that Phillip Seymour Hoffman famously reveled in back in the day.
Those skills serve her well in this week’s return of Black Lightning after its mid-season hiatus, which provided us with a mostly satisfying conclusion to the runaway arc that began in “The Sange”. Despite going through all these trials and tribulations brought about by being on the run from law enforcement and metas alike, Jennifer and Khalil have come to realize that they aren’t out of the woods yet. Both Tobias and Jefferson won’t rest until they’ve found Jen and Khalil, and the stress that revelation puts on the two leads to some of the series’ surprisingly honest moments about sex, justice, and life in general.
As my first sentence implies, they do ultimately make the decision to come back home, but it doesn’t feel rushed in the slightest. One of the strangest things about Black Lightning in general has been the show’s ability to somehow ring out multiple episodes worth of content in the span of an hour, and so the choice by Khalil and Jennifer to return home comes off like the second half of a two-part episode.
Elsewhere, Tobias continues to groom his new protege, Todd, who is working on cracking the contents of Proctor’s briefcase, which, viewers will remember, Tobias acquired in the season one finale. Those contents are finally disclosed as a computer system with access to blackmail, covert government operations, and special metahuman data that will no doubt serve a strong purpose in future episodes. As always, it was a genuine pleasure to watch Tobias’s interactions on screen, whether it was with Todd or his assassin-for-hire Cutter. Krondon genuinely makes you both despise and admire his character, no matter the evil things he says or does.
Todd, to add to this, provides a much different dynamic than Khalil or even Syonide. While Khalil was obviously constantly at odds with Whale, Todd seems eager to help the man, even flat-out acknowledging that what he’s doing is illegal. While I would’ve liked to have seen more development on this personality shift, it was still amusing to see Tobias actually get along with a new coworker.
There are some shocking surprises built into the framework of ‘Angelitos Negros’ that prove the writers have a lot of interesting plot details in store. Before, I’ve made consistent predictions about the formulaic nature the writing team seems eager to indulge in, so it was nice to see them diverge from their usual path. Black Lightning still has a long ways to go before I can recommend it as “must-watch” television, but if ‘Angelitos Negros’ proved anything, it was that the potential is absolutely there.
Rating – 7/10