Shock to the Heart
Arrowverse 2021 Season: Week 4
Apparently, for two weeks in a row, I can say "I was wrong". This time it was about what we had for the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming. this week as I hadn't realized that (a) Batwoman was taking a week off and (b) Black Lightning was starting up. But here he is, the defender of Freeland, back for one more season before his series goes off into that good night as this will be the last season of the series.
Let's get to it, then. Let's see where Black Lightning is at almost a year since its last episode aired:
Black Lightning, Season 4, Episode 1: The Book of Reconstruction: Chapter One: Collateral Damage
It's been a year since we last checked in with the Pierce family just after they helped defeated the evil Eastern European invaders, sent them packing, found out their great-great-however-many-times-removed-grandfather Tyson (aka, Gravedigger) was one of the first metas and that he's been behind a lot of the bad things that have happened in Freeland because... reasons? Oh, and Jefferson's best friend Henderson died in the war and Jeff hasn't gotten over it.
So what exactly has happened in the last year? Well, the two gangs that were fighting for Freeland territory before the war are back fighting again. Tobias Whale, who was thought dead at the end of last season is back, alive and well, and secretly controlling the gangs while he acts like a good business man in public. Jeff and his wife, Lynn, are fighting and essentially want nothing to do with each other. Oh yeah, and Jeff hung up his suit and is refusing to be Black Lightning even while injustices happen all around him. So, in essence, the series has reset itself all the way back to where it was at the start of the first season. Seriously.
In fairness, not everything has seen a hard reset. Anissa / Thunder and Jennifer / Lightning both still have powers and are fighting the good fight that Jeff refuses to engage, and even Lynn is out there, trying to figure out how to use a serum she created off of Gravedigger's powers, a serum that lets her temporarily take on the powers of any meta. And, finally, Jeff has kind of gone off the deep end a little -- he's not putting on the suit but he is assaulting police officers, and gang members, with his powers out where anyone can see.
I guess the issue I have with all this, aside from putting the show back where it was before the whole war of the last season (which is its own stupid retread that I'm sure I'll complain about over the next few episodes) is that none of these characters really feel like they're themselves anymore. Anissa barely had any personality this episode, Jennifer has gone from hating her powers to suddenly loving them, while Jeff has not only swung in the opposite direction but he's also become a violent vigilante, something he never would have stood for before this. Hell, he has the gall to lecture everyone else about the violence they're causing the the deaths that have happened on their watch, only to then go out and brutally attack people. Pot and kettle aren't really talking right now.
I'm left trying to figure out what it all amounts to. We're clearly getting a setup where Jeff has to (a) decide to put on the suit again, (b) find the will to fight the injustice in Freeland the right way, and then (c) earn his big climactic showdown with Whale to cap the series. It's all stuff we've seen before, mind you, but this show has never had a problem pulling the reset button over and over again, retreading the same material as it distorts its character beyond recognition time and again.
This really is such a poorly written show. I can't help but say that over and over again. The fact that this was one of the most coherent episodes of the whole run isn't meant to speak highly of this episode but to, instead point out just how bad the rest of the run of Black Lightning has been. We're sticking with this show through the season, off course, but let me tell you, once again, just how glad I am that this show is ending. It couldn't have come soon enough.
Elsewhere in the 'Verse
- Batwoman is back next week, joined by Black Lightning, and we'll finally be able to cover more than a single episode in a week!