Reviews

Review – Black Lightning S01E13: Shadow of Death: The Book of War

Black Lightning Comes to a Close

Well, here we are. Black Lightning ended its first season this week. The finale was entertaining and satisfying, but ultimately slow and a little anti-climactic. However, season two has its pieces in place. It seems like the writers will be able to improve on their foundation and do more of what they want to do when the show eventually returns.

Warning: This review does not discuss major spoilers for the season finale. However, it does openly discuss events from previous episodes. If you’re not caught up, read at your own risk.

Putting Pieces in Place

Tobias and company start the episode thinking that Black lightning is dead by Khalil’s (now going by Painkiller) hand. This opens up the opportunity to illustrate one of the more unique things about Tobias as a villain. At the end of the day, he’s middle management. He’s not even the main problem that Black Lightning has to deal with. Keeping Black Lightning alive wasn’t Tobias’s goal, but that of his superiors.

The CW: Black Lightning S01E13: Shadow of Death: The Book of War
The CW: Black Lightning S01E13: Shadow of Death: The Book of War

His ambivalence toward Black Lightnings supposed death highlights his disinterest in his superiors and their wishes. Tobias has been playing his own game since the beginning, and he’s not about to stop now. This finale is pretty clearly setting him up to be the main antagonist of season two. That should work well, as it seems like that’s something the writers are interested in, though they lacked the ability to keep the focus on Tobias in this short season.

Speaking of villains, this episode leaves us with an assembly of Black Lightning’s rogues’ gallery for season two. Painkiller, Syonide, and Tattooed Man seem ready to take their place to threaten our hero in the future. If the show starts putting out villain-of-the-week episodes, we might likely see some familiar faces. They’ll also give the writers an opportunity to demonstrate that the problems in Freeland are complicated and ongoing.

Writing Issues

Much of this episode is slow. Black Lighting spends the first half out of commission as a result of last episode’s showdown. When he’s finally back in fighting shape, it still takes a while for things to happen. As a result, the pacing is a little sloppy and the climax isn’t as strong as it could have been. However, it was an engaging episode in spite of its pacing issues. When the action does start happening, it’s fun. There’s nothing like a fighting montage set to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star” to make an audience happy. I’m certainly satisfied with how the season ended, though this season could have made good use of two or three more episodes just to give various characters and arcs more room to develop.

There was a small problem that stuck out this episode. At one point, Martin Proctor (the guy hunting Black Lighting) says, “Let’s make America great again.” He echoes this later. It’s not exactly subtle. In fact, Proctor as a character is just too on the nose. He’s not a complicated or interesting villain like Tobias and company. As noted, it’s small, but it’s indicative of a larger trend. I’ve noticed that the show makes some missteps with heavy-handedness here and there. It’s not a major problem by any means, and in fact, sometimes the show’s bluntness is an effective way make an impact. But in some cases, it can be frustrating because I know that the writers possess the talent to handle these things with finesse.

With that in mind, I’m excited to see what the writers can do with a longer season. The finale ends with the things I’m most interested in ready to go for season two. It’ll be a long wait, but I’m ready.


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About the author

David Pferdekamper

David spends most of his time playing video games, reading Batman comics, and rewatching shows he's seen dozens of times. When he's not doing that, he and his wife take care of foster kittens and their two chubby cats.

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