Black Lightning: The Book of the Apocalypse: Chapter One: Alpha


Ever have one of THOSE family dinners? 


Black Lightning starts off the two-part season finale with “The Book of the Apocalypse: Chapter One: The Alpha.” It opens with someone we’ve never seen before, who wears a costume and has a run-in with the Freeland Police Department. They actually seem to have some degree of powers, and… we’ll just say things don’t go well. It’s not exactly a light-hearted opening, but then, it’s frequently not an upbeat show. None of the hero shows are these days, now that I think about it, with the arguable exception of Legends of Tomorrow.

At the Pierce house, there’s a family meeting. Anissa is late, and they fill some of that time talking about Jennifer’s recent cooking contributions, which Jefferson is surprised to note is actually really good. After Anissa arrives, Jefferson acknowledges he’d rather his daughters weren’t following in his costumed boot-steps, but knows they won’t stop. He’s come up with a three part code he tells them to follow, on pain of him having Gambi locking up all their suits and toys and not helping them anymore. Whether Gambi would actually do that or not, I’m not sure. The rules are: 1. Don’t tell anyone your secret identity (I agree entirely) 2. Don’t do anything without backup (I agree again; novice heroes shouldn’t be running around on their own) and 3. No killing (I again agree. I prefer my heroes not to kill). As you might expect, the daughters aren’t thrilled about this. Jennifer in particular takes exception to the third one. Finally, reluctantly, they agree. Anissa has a small mishap at the table, and we learn that O’Dell is still spying on them, and he does have some boundaries. I’m still a bit irked that Gambi hasn’t picked up on the bugs, but I suppose the ASA has likely come up with new tricks since they parted ways so many years ago.


Tobias Whale directs Jace and Cutter to revive the rest of the metas they stole, and we see the remaining membership of the Masters of Disaster: New Wave, Heatstroke, and Coldsnap. There have been changes to their appearances, races, and genders, but at this point that’s no huge surprise. Whale quickly establishes who’s boss, and the villains see they don’t really have a choice.


Lynn watches some news coverage that gives more detail on what we saw in the opening. O’Dell wanders up and talks about it being such a shame. They talk about the greenlight kids possibly being dead by now, and have very different reactions to that. Jace and Whale talk about his plans, and she’s not impressed by his boasting and braggadocio.  In the Sanctum, Jefferson and Gambi talk about the death of Todd Green (which really looked like an issue with the actor, the way they did it), Gambi’s efforts to find the missing metas, and the challenges of raising superhumans. Gambi tells him he’s doing a great job.


Lala has a very odd talk with the mad scientist who seems to be behind his condition. They cover a lot of ground without really revealing anything about what’s happening with Lala, but they do seem to agree that the world would be a better place without Tobias Whale in it. Gambi does another fitting/testing of Jennifer’s new suit. He warns her that not only is it not finished, it’s actually more harmful than helpful in its current state. Jefferson gets a bunch of flashbacks to Jennifer when she was younger, and they go out to lunch after she teases him. She jokes about static problems with her hair, then tries to change his mind about the “no killing” rule. Jennifer wants vengeance, and Dad isn’t going to change her mind with rules.


Back at the Sanctum, Anissa drops by, kids with Gambi about him being predictable, and then offers a bit more detail on her fight last episode. Gambi theorizes a shape-shifter, which gets Anissa to thinking, and he offers some sentiment about love. Lynn tries to set up some help for Wendy, who is feeling down about missing thirty years while held in suspended animation. Lynn offers some suggestions, and Wendy thanks her for everything. Lala arms up and goes after Whale with the scientist’s blessing and encouragement. Whale tries to get the Masters of Disaster to train, they argue, and he lays down the law. The scene ends with an uncomfortably long make-out session with Tobias and Cutter. Ick.


Lynn watches the news of the young man’s death from earlier yet again, and calls Jennifer to check on her. Lynn wants Jennifer to come talk to Wendy, and they joke about masks and voice synthesizers, a standard on the other CW/DC shows. Even Lynn is already trying to find ways around Jefferson’s rules. Jennifer also thanks her mother for saying she’s not a freak. Cutter and Whale decide on a way to demonstrate his new follower’s powers. O’Dell has another confrontation with Lynn over Wendy’s future, and backs down way too easily. Something is clearly wrong there, and Lynn knows it.


Jennifer is back on her hangout spot, the roof, talking with Anissa. Jennifer teases Anissa about being stoned while fighting the secret Asian man, and urges her older sister to break their father’s rules. Whale does a voiceover for essentially a commercial for his new metas-for-hire plan, and sends Heatstroke to give a very public display of what he can do. Gambi reports what’s going on to Jefferson, who just sort of hovers there in his Black Lightning suit for no apparent reason while Heatstroke sadistically uses his powers. Our hero finally arrives on scene, and clashes with Heat Stroke until Jace urges Whale to have him retreat. In an interesting mirror, Heatstroke apparently has a body-cam and com system like Black Lightning and Gambi. Whale, disgusted, finally tells Heatstroke to leave, while Black Lightning and Thunder, who just arrived, try and repair the damage he’s done.


The latest crisis makes Gambi and Jefferson worry about Jennifer, who is at home alone. For some reason, they both apparently forget about cell phones and Gambi goes charging off to bring Jennifer to the Sanctum. Gambi gets Jennifer back to the Sanctum, then his gadgets tell him where Tobias is. He reports this to Black Lightning and goes to keep an eye on the place while Black Lightning is busy. Jennifer uses her powers in a creative way to get the information. Gee, what could go wrong there? Jace tries to insinuate herself more with Tobias, who isn’t buying.


As our heroes work on the hazards threatening Freeland, Cutter gets a surprise visitor as Lala shows up. She demonstrates her specialty, he shows his, and she runs. A frustrated Whale kills a pod kid in passing, and Jace scolds him for it. Cutter runs in to warn them about their guest, and explains to Whale she can’t kill this one. Everyone flees. O’Dell drops some disturbing hints in a conversation with Lynn, making her more uneasy. Gambi warns Black Lightning that Whale is coming out in the open. Jennifer, ignoring 2/3 of Dad’s rules, shows up to go after him. Remember Gambi’s warning earlier about the suit? Neither does she, and she pays for it to end the episode.


What I liked: Jefferson’s attempt at laying out guidelines for the girls was a good attempt, even if we knew it wouldn’t work. I’m impressed with Anissa’s determination to find Grace. The O’Dell/Lynn scenes were good tension builders, and it was nice to see that O’Dell has some boundaries for himself. I like Gambi’s concern for all the Pierce family. Lynn’s devotion to Wendy speaks well of Lynn’s compassion. I don’t like Dr. Jace but she gets points for being consistent.

What I didn’t: Jennifer was doing a lot better earlier in the season, and now is back to headstrong, sulky teenager. Whale is just loathsome. I’m not quite sure why the Masters of Disaster were changed so much. Why did Gambi have to go get Jennifer instead of just calling her?


It was a good episode to build for the finale, and the show’s been very good overall. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5.



Heatstroke, comics



Heatstroke, tv version