Black Lightning: The Book of Crucifixion


Come on down to ASA Proctor’s World O’ Guns!!!

Things take some ugly turns for Jefferson Pierce in “Black Jesus: The Book of Crucifixion.” The show opens with the newly-revealed ASA plant Vice Principal Fowdy in the newest location for all the tubes holding the kidnapped kids with powers. The scientist is worried about some readings, but thinks things will improve if they stop having to move them around so much. As this goes on, Black Lightning and Thunder raid another location. They don’t find the kids, but they do find a stockpile of the specialized weapons the ASA is deploying for use against Black Lightning. It’s also nice to see that Gambi is back to guiding them over coms. The heroes leave after making sure that the weapons aren’t going to be used. Two other nice touches in this scene were Gambi still showing the wounds from his time as a prisoner of the ASA, and Thunder using one of the standard comic book super-strength tricks.

Fowdy is having a busy day as she checks in with her bosses and gets told about the armory being hit. She also is clearly not buying that Jefferson is Black Lightning. More bad news is that one of the pods is so unstable they think they will lose their “subject.” Back in the Sanctum, as they’ve started calling the hidden headquarters, things are still a bit tense with Gambi and Jefferson. The hero goes to change, leaving Anissa to talk to Gambi. She’s worried about him being so beat up, and reminds us of her medical training, which could be a very useful thing for a heroic career. Anissa is frustrated by the situation between Gambi and her father. In turn, the tailor is being so careful to not influence her that he’s being very vague and cryptic.

Continuing her busy day, Fowdy then contacts Deputy Chief Cayman, one of the many corrupt cops (a recurring stereotype on, I think, every currently airing hero show). She hides who she is, and pushes him to take some things for their next mission. At Garfield High, Jefferson is on the front steps welcoming students, including his daughters as they arrive amid banter about Jennifer driving. The plan is revealed when cops noisily arrive in the parking lot, break into Pierce’s car, and “find” Green Light after they put it there, and do the same in his office. Jefferson is furious, but keeps his cool both for his students, who try and stand up for him, and to keep his powers locked down.

Inspector Henderson is stunned to see his friend Jefferson brought in, handcuffed. He confronts Cayman in a noble, loyal, and potentially career-ending scene. Henderson and Cayman spar, Fowdy makes a very hypocritical announcement to the school, and Pierce goes through the booking process. It’s a horrible scene, and he nearly loses his temper. I will say that, unpleasant as it is, the change of clothes and strip search are, in fact, standard procedure with drug charges. The cops roughing him up in the hallway are just more either corrupt or bullying officers.

As Fowdy hears about the plans for her supposed friend Pierce, Lynn goes to the station. She’s too honest for her own good, and talks her way out of being able to see him. She does talk to Henderson, and he assures her he’s trying hard to help. Anissa goes to Gambi’s closed shop, down to the base, and he cautions her against suiting up and breaking Jefferson out. He has a plan to do something better.

Pierce is cuffed to a table in an interview room (NOT standard for non-violent offenses), and Henderson comes in. The scene is mostly played for the cameras, with Henderson only managing to whisper a few words of comfort to his friend. Henderson walks Pierce through an interrogation that does, circumstantially, look bad for the principal. They get interrupted when Cayman comes in with a transfer order, surprising both Pierce and Henderson.

In one of the clumsiest scenes of the episode (more on that later), there are street interviews about Pierce’s arrest. Predictably but badly done, all the blacks interviewed are in Pierce’s corner, and the white woman against him. That’s just lazy work. Henderson gives Lynn a heads up about the transfer, which is a national security order so there’s nothing he can do.

Anissa suits up while Gambi warns her this is a desperate plan that might not work. I do think they’re making Gambi a bit too much of a jack of all trades. He’s an ex-spy, fighter, computer genius, and inventor. That seems a bit much. It’s like they tried to condense most heroes’ support teams into one person. Anissa pushes to go ahead with the plan, while Jennifer has a scene with Lynn about being scared for her father.

In a scene that shows the writers don’t understand at least some of how jail works, Henderson goes into Pierce’s cell after clearing it out, and is locked in with him. Henderson asks if Pierce is some kind of spy, which he isn’t, of course. Henderson then goes after one of the corrupt cops, getting a lot of leverage in a ridiculously short time and using it as leverage to flip him against Cayman.

Fowdy reports in to her bosses again about monitoring kids on Green Light. Thunder strolls down the street in public, and we see Gambi’s plan. It’s decently clever, and a good spin on a comic book trope to clear a hero/protect their secret ID. They manage to convince Fowdy that Pierce isn’t Black Lightning, which she never believed anyway, but her change of heart doesn’t matter to her boss.

Henderson does some very good police work and gets Pierce freed. When Cayman objects, Henderson clearly enjoys slamming Cayman to the wall and arresting him off the testimony of the other corrupt cop. Cayman is shocked and protests as the other cops take him away.

Jefferson gets a great homecoming with his family. To make it complete, Gambi arrives as well. Things are still a bit awkward between them, but both men are willing to work towards some common goals, like saving the kidnapped children. The news covers Cayman’s downfall, with some good news for one of Black Lightning’s allies as the Pierces have dinner together.

What I liked: This was a fine spin on a classic hero trope, and they did it well. Some of the bad element got cleared out of the police, which is a great step. While the search and booking of Jefferson looked ugly, that one part was actually accurate. Pierce’s struggle to stay in control was well-acted, and the depth of the ASA conspiracy is intimidating.

What I didn’t: I get what they’re trying to say, but they’re doing a little too much “black is good, white is bad” on this show. Every corrupt cop we’ve seen has been white, as were the people that turned so quickly against Jefferson. I’m not sure how being freed from his local charges got Pierce away from a Federal transport order.

I thought it was another good episode in what has been a great first season. I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5. I can’t believe the season is almost over already, but at least we know it’s coming back.