Black Lightning Lawanda The Book of Burial review S1 E3

Lawanda: The Book of Burial actually made the death of a minor character a meaningful plot point. I had a few issues with this episode, but it’s encouraging that what’s working is working very well and the gripes are easily correctable.

Rev. Jeremiah Holt (Clifton Powell, The Preacher’s Son) is rallying the Freeland community to march out against The 100 and take back their streets. For the increasing efforts to try and delicately and respectfully handle LGBT characters, non-fanatical Christians still get a terribly stereotypical portrayal on TV.

Of course, Holt had to feed the cliché of the well-dressed preacher in a fancy car. Even worse was the congregation’s immediate reaction following Black Lightning preventing a mass shooting was to sing. That was embarrassing and not realistic.

As usual, Jefferson’s scenes were excellent. Cress Williams is immediately locked in to Jefferson/Black Lightning and he’s not still trying his take on the character. That’s really impressive so early on. Christine Adams is also outstanding. Jefferson and Lynn’s marital status makes for interesting interactions, but in all the ways that matter, Williams and Adams make them one of the more realistic and relatable couples in the CW DC universe. It was also a smart move to not constantly have Lynn try and guilt trip Jefferson into not being Black Lightning. Like she said, that was a losing battle.

Black Lightning book of burial review Anissa

My biggest ongoing issue is how the writers are in such a rush to do everything with Anissa. We’re three episodes in and unlike every other one else, her character development feels like it’s on fast forward.

The first episode Anissa was a teacher and there was little insight as to what led her down that path. Episode 2 revealed she was a lesbian in a relationship that seemingly had some level of depth. This week she’s an aspiring vigilante who now has problems with her girlfriend.

This issue just seemed like a way to speed up Anissa’s eventual comic book based relationship with Grace (Chantal Thuy). In the comics, Grace is also a fellow superheroine and they ironically meet in The Outsiders, the comic Grace introduces her to in the bookstore. I’d love for the writers to develop more of Anissa’s backstory before tossing her into the superhero deep end. With next week’s trailer that doesn’t look to be the case.

I really liked that both Khalil and Jennifer are virgins. Having sex has become so trivialized over the last few decades and I appreciate Black Lightning tackling it from a mature modern perspective. That led to two really funny scenes with Jennifer announcing to Jefferson and Lynn that she’s ready to have sex and Jefferson awkwardly trying to scare Khalil. And it also provided a brief, but nice moment with Anissa and Jennifer. I’m not as interested in Anissa’s love life as these quiet scenes with Anissa and Jennifer looks to have the same kind of episode stealing potential as Supergirl’s Alex and Kara.

The Book of Burial also introduced Jill Scott as Tobias’ boss Lady Eve. Scott is a big get for the series as she has a radiant presence that makes for an interesting twist on the female crime boss.

Black Lightning book of burial review Lady eve

It’s probably time for Henderson to have some teeth and do something besides telling everyone what the police can’t do. The writers have inadvertently written him so passive and cautious that his inaction is becoming frustrating. Henderson’s complaints about Black Lightning seem silly considering how ineffective the police have been in stopping The 100.

Maybe if some more officers were around, Holt and Khalil wouldn’t have been shot. I didn’t imagine how quickly Khalil would get shot. I’m glad he didn’t get killed, but I’m curious if that will result in him being written out of the series. Hopefully not as this could make for a better entry point for Jennifer to become a hero.

Black Lightning book of burial review Jefferson training

Gambi deleting the surveillance footage of Tobias was…interesting. Clearly, there’s more going on than Gambi just being on Tobias’ take. Given the pacing of the series, that will likely be revealed sooner than I’d expect.

The Book of Burial made death meaningful and strong moments with the Pierce family. Black Lightning is showing how to make the non-superhero moments just as engaging — perhaps even moreso — than the fight scenes.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Photo Credit: The CW

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