Black Lightning Episode 5 Review

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An unexpected phone call unearths the long-buried need for Jefferson to investigate the murder of his father.

And the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light

This Black Lightning review contains spoilers. You have been warned.

So Black Lightning can fly Iron Man style now? That’s a thing? Sigh. Huh… turns out it’s actually a thing. Looks like it’s more floating than flying, though. I understand he is still learning his powers, but this isn’t his first rodeo. I’m sure there are more abilities to discover. Here’s to hoping the production team can refine the effects used for his power of float.


James Remar as Peter Gambi

During his inaugural flight test, Black Lightning prevents some police officers from shooting a kid high on Green Light. Black Lightning subdued the kid while the officers looked on with guns drawn. As I stated in my initial review of Black Lightning, this show is more grounded than any superhero show currently airing. In the news we have seen drug addicts gunned down without a second thought by police. Black Lightning admonishing the police officers telling them to use a taser next time should be echoed around the nation. Drug addiction and those suffering adverse reactions to psychotropic drugs is not worthy of a death sentence to be carried out by law enforcement. Kudos to the writers for putting this message into the episode. Following his encounter with the police and saving the drug-influenced teen, we get the first glimpse of a health issue Jefferson is going through as a result of using his powers.

Tobias Whale pays Alfred Gambi a visit at his store asking him for a new suit. We learn Tobias took a serum that prevents him from aging. Tobias wants Gambi to tell him Black Lightning’s true identity. After some back and forth, Whale and Syonide exit the store without incident.

Back at the Pierce’s, Anissa is researching (Googling) the root causes of her enhanced abilities on her MacBook Adorable. She comes across the video of a conspiracy theorist suggesting there is a pattern between the Tuskegee Experiment, the Flint Water Crisis and the mysterious disappearance of nine Freeland kids who displayed enhanced abilities, 30 years prior. (Was 1987 really 30 years ago? Damn, I’m old.) I really do enjoy the mix of realism and comic book fantasy this show brings. Anissa discovers there were a series of articles planned, but they were squashed. Anissa’s grandfather, Alvin Pierce, was the reporter on the story and was murdered due to his efforts to expose the truth.

The show does a decent job of character and world building. We see Jefferson at the drug store coming to the aid of a father and his sick child. The drug store is selling expired medicine. The father cannot afford to purchase another bottle. Jefferson takes care of it for him and tells him to pay it forward. I don’t think people understand that sometimes even a $7 bottle of Tylenol can present a make or break situation for you and your family and the kindness of strangers shows not all heroes wear stupid fluorescent suits.

Christine Adams as Lynn Pierce

Christine Adams as Lynn Pierce

Black Lightning pays a visit to the address on the packing slip. At the warehouse, he is greeted by your racist uncle holding a shotgun. After shocking the trucker hat guy, the guy loses his Southern accent and spills the beans on what the chemicals are for and who he’s holding them for. (We know why his hat is red. No need to spell it out.) Turns out the chemicals are ingredients for Green Light and Joey Toledo is the point of contact. Jefferson goes ballistic on Gambi about this news. Joey Toledo is Tobias’ right-hand man and was the guy that beat down the medical examiner back in episode 4. Jefferson gets so worked up he faints. Gambi calls Lynn for help. The new hovering features built into the Black Lightning suit might be the cause of the problem.

Tobias WhaleTori lends some counsel to Tobias as he vents about his strained relationship with Lady Eve. He believes he deserves a seat at the table of the inner circle, but his sister preaches patience to him and tells him he needs to deal with the real root of his emotional outbursts – their abusive father, Eldridge. The siblings pay Eldridge a visit. Tobias speaks his piece, breaks Eldridge’s back in a crushing bearhug and leaves him to die… which probably means he’s not dead and we’ll see him again.

Anissa continues to dig into the death of her grandfather and the source of her enhanced abilities. She tells Jefferson she is working on a project about their family history. Jefferson initially blows her off. After some quick reflection, Jefferson begins to speak about his father in a vague, but shining light. Anissa pays a visit to David Poe, the editor of the Freeland Gazette. Once she mentions her grandfather’s story about the missing children, his pleasantries take a turn as he orders her to leave his office. Anissa eventually broke Poe down and he gave her some information to help her dig into it further. The information leads her to a storage facility where, donning a new outfit and wig, she unearths a mysterious vial in a safe within the storage unit.

Black LightningIn his quest to track down Joey Toledo, Black Lightning gives Inspector Henderson a burner phone as a means to connect with him. “Consider this the Black Signal.” (Groan.) The inspector gives Black Lightning a tip on the whereabouts of Joey Toledo. After some back and forth between the two, Gambi gives Jefferson the faulty control module that has been the source of his headaches and mood swings and what caused him to faint earlier in the episode after Jefferson threatened to “Black Lightning [his] ass.” Black Lightning meets up with Toledo and after a scuffle he’s left lying in pain as Toledo limps off into the darkness.

Overall, the episode showed a lot of potential, but underdelivered. I enjoyed the social commentary. The issues addressed are issues I feel passionate about, but the back half of the episode suffered a bit. The ending was pretty uneventful. James Remar’s performance continues to disappoint. Tobias didn’t look as strong as the show needs him to.

What are your thoughts on the episode? Let me know in the comments below.

“Black Lightning” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW or you can watch it for FREE on demand via the CW app available on iOS, Android, Roku, FireTV, Xbox… pretty much everywhere. 

Black Lightning Season 1, Episode 5
  • And the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light


While the episode did an admirable job with addressing social issues, it fell short on showing the true collateral damage drug addiction can affect a community. I expected a little more Breaking Bad and ended up with just the opening scene to the pilot episode of Fear the Walking Dead. There were some high points, but the slow back half of the episode didn’t keep me interested. Oh, and James Remar’s performance continues to disappoint.