The Baddies are Back on Black Lightning
This week on Black Lightning, the heroes take a backseat to the villains. Tobias returns from a several-episode hiatus and begins moving things into place for the season finale next week. He’s not the only character to come back after being absent for episodes on end.
Warning: This review does not discuss major spoilers from episode 12. However, it does openly discuss events from previous episodes. It’s always a good idea to catch up.
A Dark Trinity
Let’s talk about bad guys. We get a lot more of them this episode than in other recent episodes. Tobias’ much-anticipated return is extremely welcome. As normal, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III is charismatic and intimidating in the role. He’s especially strong opposite other villains. He’s often in scenes with subordinates and superiors. Tobias maintains power in both scenarios. Even when superiors such as Lady Eve or Martin Proctor try to dominate or coerce him, he doesn’t cede any ground, remaining tenacious and confident.
In addition to Tobias, we also see Khalil again for the first time in several episodes. Unfortunately, his return is not as impressive. It initially seemed that Tobias would be using Khalil for a smear campaign against Black Lightning. Instead, Khalil has been turned into a science experiment for the bad guys and a strong man for Tobias. It feels unsatisfying. This underscores that he doesn’t easily fit into the narrative. Either the writers were unsure about what they wanted to do with the character, or more important character arcs took priority in the limited number of episodes.
We also get a little bit of Lala this week. William Catlett continues to be an absolute pleasure to watch. However, his brief appearance in this episode highlighted the fact that we still don’t know why or how Lala is back. We have a lot of the pieces, and got some big pieces toward the end of this episode. But that puzzle still isn’t completely solved. There’s surely going to be some interesting stuff concerning Lala in the season finale. Moreover, I hadn’t realized how much I wanted a showdown between Lala and Tobias until I starting analyzing this episode. Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lala becomes a bigger antagonist in season two.
Looking Back and Looking Forward
With the season finale next week, I’ve been considering this season of Black Lightning as a whole. It seems more and more clear that the writers didn’t have the time to do everything they would have liked to in 13 episodes. This season didn’t necessarily need a season of 26 episodes. In fact, that probably would have led to several villain-of-the-week episodes instead of keeping a focus on the big bad. But a few more episodes would have given these characters and arcs some more room to breathe and develop.
Khalil is a perfect example of this. When he finally returned, it was hard to care much about him or his relationship with Jennifer. Though I’ve liked the writing of this show overall, when taken as a whole there are some places where they dropped the ball. Some arcs either rely too heavily on exposition or fail to fully develop. That being said, there’s every chance that the second season will be longer and have more room to deal with these kinds of issues. I’m certainly looking forward to both the season finale and long-term future of Black Lightning.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 PM on the CW.