Shadow of Death: The Book of War was an excellent conclusion to Black Lightning’s stellar debut season. There was a confidence we don’t always see with with superhero shows. This season finale neatly tied together most of the plot threads introduced over the course of 13 episodes while still allowing some intrigue about unresolved characters. And as a bonus, the show’s most deplorable character had a fitting death.
Still on death’s door after the beat down from Khalil and Tobias, Jeff is comatose and presumably recalling pivotal moments in his life with his father. It was nice to see Jeff had some of the same struggles as Jennifer growing up and they’re more similar than either would probably recognize. I also loved that his father instilled Jefferson’s future mantra. This was likely unintentional, but I loved the symmetry with Black Lightning and Black Panther both being on the verge of death and getting a spiritual pep talk from their fathers.
When he awakened, Jeff had a shock…or a lack of shock as his powers were gone. And that’s no good with Martin Proctor sending his ASA goons to kill the family and Gambi. I really liked that Jennifer’s big superhero moment this season didn’t involve taking some bad guys out, but rather re-charging her father and bringing the spark back to him. It’s symbolic of how Black Lightning re-energized Freeland upon returning.
I haven’t done this enough, but the folks in charge of the music selections have killed it all year. Luke Cage was the last show that so expertly used its soundtrack to help tell stories in each episode. The big Black Lightning and Thunder versus ASA troops felt like a final boss battle in Double Dragon. And let’s give it up for Lynn grabbing the shotgun and taking fools out too! Jennifer using her powers on the offensive wasn’t a big surprise, but I was kinda liking her filling the RPG mode of party healer as it differentiates her from Jeff.
Tobias was also rallying his troops for a big mission. Appreciating Khalil’s enthusiastic response to his Black Lightning problem, Tobias renames him Painkiller. Not a bad villain alias. Tobias was ready to take the war to Proctor and seize Freeland for himself. Even if that meant sacrificing Lala to learn his location. I’m hoping that’s not the end of Lala as it would be a pretty inglorious end for such an interesting character. Especially since Tobias apparently has some way to resurrect people.
I like that the writers didn’t tiptoe around Proctor’s racist behavior and went all out portraying him as a card carrying MAGA spewer.
Shadow of Death had this very interesting final act with both the hero and the villain on similar paths of stopping Proctor. I was probably rooting more for Tobias as I figured he would definitely kill Proctor. But Proctor proved to be quick enough to escape Tobias’ assault on his secret base. But he didn’t escape Black Lightning and family.
Proctor was on his racist BS before trying to partner up with the Pierce family when Gambi had enough and killed him. All of Gambi’s shady actions this season were forgiven as Proctor did not need to somehow Negan his way to next season.
We got a solid epilogue with the Pierce family reunited, the truth behind the Freeland experiments coming out and Henderson promising a full investigation. It was a nice happy ending. But just to keep us anticipating Season 2, Tobias gets Proctor’s magic briefcase, but we don’t see what’s in it. Is it the key to more metas? This fall can’t arrive soon enough.
File Closed: Shadow of Death neatly tied up Black Lightning’s rookie season with a highly satisfying conclusion that set up just enough mystery and suspense for Season 2.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: The CW