Synopsis: THE SHOWDOWN – The aftermath of the showdown with Black Lightning (Cress Williams) leaves everyone reeling. Meanwhile, Tobias (Marvin Jones III) gathers his forces. Nafessa Williams, China Anne McClain, Christine Adams and Damon Gupton also star.
Review: With “Shadow of Death: The Book of War,” writer Charles D. Holland closed out the season with the style and panache that I felt the previous episode lacked. Moreover, he did it in a way that allowed for the perfect balance between character and action beats. Make no mistake, there was nothing fundamentally new within this episode. The heroes were backed into a corner at their lowest ebb only to rise to the challenge. We’ve seen it all before, and we’ll see it all again. The difference lay in the delivery and in the commitment to the material by all involved.
I’m not going to delve into the plot in great detail, as I don’t want to spoil the nuances. Suffice it to say that all the plot lines are dealt with. The Pierce family, including Jennifer and Lynn, processed the fallout as a family. I loved seeing everyone on the same page at last. The rapport between Lynn (Christine Adams) and Gambi (James Remar) was particularly wonderful to behold, given their fraught dynamic all season.
Additionally, I really appreciated getting Jefferson’s backstory in flashbacks, as well as Jefferson’s interaction with his father during his near-death experience. Cress Williams and Keith Arthur Bolden really sold that sequence, as did Salim Akil’s direction. As a bonus, viewers got Syonide’s (Charlbi Dean Kriek) appropriately twisted backstory, as well as more dialogue from her than in the rest of the season put together.
All in all, the first season of Black Lightning was a well thought out blend of social commentary and super heroics. The Pierce family’s victory was well earned, but it also thankfully didn’t feel complete. Threats were left unchecked, and the writers have plenty around with to build subsequent seasons. I also agree that the Akils should hold off on any crossovers with the other shows. As much as I may want them as a fan, this show deserves more time and space to be uniquely what it is.
Written by: Charles D. Holland
Directed by: Salim Akil