Black Lightning: Lawanda: The Book of Burial
January 30, 2018 7:42 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

As Jefferson tries to determine if the community can survive without the help of Black Lightning, Anissa starts to come into her own. Meanwhile, Jefferson and Lynn try to figure out their new dynamic, and Jennifer reveals to her parents that she has been grappling with something big.
posted by oh yeah! (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Okay was the how-you-shower thing creepy and out of place or was it just me?
posted by phearlez at 1:11 PM on January 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Super weird. Seems like they tried so hard to do a very specific set of things with all the sex material throughout the episode, and all that effort caused them to somehow mess up the feel of this this scene and then not catch it.
posted by zeek321 at 4:12 PM on January 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

In any case, I think this show still has the potential to be one of the best superhero shows, but there are tiny flickers of possible fizzling.
posted by zeek321 at 4:14 PM on January 31, 2018

Yeah, the humor of that whole 'trying to be a cool Dad but actually not cool about it' humor fell flat, and putting Khalil's dick out of commission for the foreseeable future via gunshot wound was a cop-out.

Still plenty of other good stuff in the episode though -- the music continues to be terrific, Anissa's junkyard workout sequence was great, and the scene between Jefferson, Reverend Holt, and Inspector Henderson was interesting.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:34 PM on January 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

OK, that was seriously meta. Both Grace Choi and Anissa Pierce are members of the Outsiders in the comics.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:38 PM on January 31, 2018 [7 favorites]

I don't usually stop watching programs to go diving deep down Internet rabbit holes, but this episode made me do it. That's an issue of Outsiders that's not in my collection but it looked right enough (especially with the Kobra reference) that I had to stop and check that yup, it was real enough.

I'll admit that out of all the superhero teams out there, the Outsiders would have been my last pick to make it onto the screen in any format. Yes, I know characters have been picked off for other shows (Katana on Green Arrow, for example) but as a team? Not in a million years.

In case anybody wants some speculation about existing characters on the show and their possible comic book counterparts, this might be interesting.

I wish they hadn't gone down the route of needing the suit to regulate/focus Jefferson's powers. That seems to be something that fits in more with the current Marvel cinematic universe than the DC world. I think it just makes Jefferson too dependent on magic technology wrangling, construction equipment producing Gambi for my liking. Sure Jefferson needs a confidant as Black Lightning, but that seems to be pushing the dependence too far.

The shower inquisition was creepy. I guess they don't want the hero, who has some pretty goody-two-shoes tendencies, to threaten death with a shovel talk, so this was the show's way to be intimidating without implied violence, but it really struck the wrong note.

Still, I have to give the show credit for being so open about sexuality among other matters. It's certainly a different take than on most of the other cape shows out there.
posted by sardonyx at 6:52 PM on January 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, was that some kind of magic bullet?

The car seemed to be on roughly level ground with the protestors, the bullet hit the reverend high in the chest but the boyfriend low in the stomach. And the vehicle was a car, not an SUV, so the shooter would have had to aim up out of the window to get something to chest height, so shouldn't the bullet (assuming it wasn't deflected downward by hitting bone or something) still have been on an upward or at least level trajectory when it hit the second victim?
posted by sardonyx at 6:58 PM on January 31, 2018

that's way more physics than this show needs.

i'm not familiar with the Outsiders comics, but a quick rabbit hole dive revealed that the other interesting thing about that comic that Grace showed Anissa is that it features Lady Eve in her Kobra costume, and this episode also just introduced us to their version of Lady Eve.

i think the shower thing would've been less creepy if he kept it shorter and more to the point. but still a pretty good episode.
posted by numaner at 7:43 PM on January 31, 2018

I was distracted when it flew by, but did one of the march witnesses interviewed on TV mention a "partner?"

Anissa's relationship and breakup seemed a bit abrupt, maybe reading too much into it but it seems that character existed just to establish Anissa as a lesbian and then get her out of the way for an extended romance arc.

The shower dialogue was extended WTF.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:26 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I feel bad for laughing about the shower scene now. It was so over the top and stupid. I mean....what if he did have a bath mat and so didn't have to step out of his shower onto a towel? did Jefferson know Khalil was going to say he stepped onto a towel? Has he seen him shower??

The thing I cannot deal with about CW shows is how quickly they gloss over.....everything. There is no slow build-up or simmering to boil about any plotline. The first gf being dumped already was really weird, but everything moves at breakneck speed on The Flash and Arrow too, so kind of not surprising that no short-range plots are ever really developed.

One thing I do really like about this show is that the leads are not teens or twenty-somethings, and it really holds its own.

Also..Jill Scott!
posted by the webmistress at 6:48 AM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think the breakup was mostly okay because it did way more than just out her. It established
  • She's gay
  • She's out to her parents
  • Her parents were supportive, though not without a minute to ponder the matter
  • She's communicative to her parents about her relationships as well (not a given for young adults with their parents, regardless of their sexuality)
  • She tried to misdirect mom with this breakup news
  • Mom is savvy enough to have known just how committed Anissa was in this relationship
  • ...and to not be steered away from the issue
  • ...but willing to give her daughter her space.
Perhaps being in my late 40s my perspective on this is different than someone younger, but I personally love that the CW shows are willing to show gay&out characters who date around and have sex and reasonably happy relationships.

I'm not sure I think it was all that sudden since, this established, we look back on the last episode's bed scene and see that this reticence from Anissa wasn't any sort of secret life. She apparently just was that distant with this partner of many months. I don't know if that's different writers not being well on the same page with each other or because my lifetime of media consumption has taught me that secretive and gay always means closet.
posted by phearlez at 12:28 PM on February 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


Black Lightning was a founding member of the Outsiders, the team Batman put together when he was having a snit with the Justice League and on the outs with Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing). Jefferson was second in command, and took over the team when Bats departed.

The other original members were Katana a sword-wielding martial artist who has popped up in the Arrowverse and in Suicide Squad, Geo-Force, a prince of Markovia (an Eastern European country often name-checked in the Arrowverse) and half-brother to Terra of the Teen Titans, Halo, a naïve energy/light being, and adventurer/tomb raider Rex Mason, who went by Metamorpho after he gained the power to turn into any element. Rex was engaged to Sapphire Stagg, whose father Simon Stagg met an unfortunate end in the Arrowverse. The first new addition to the team was Looker (whose name you heard in this episode). She was originally a telepath with telekinetic abilities. The whole vampire thing came much later.

The version of the team depicted in the comic Grace was reading seems to be the third iteration (I'd stopped reading it by this point), but it seems that throughout all of the various incarnations, there has been a Pierce (Jefferson or Anissa). And even though Bats wasn't always around, his presence was always felt either directly, indirectly or by proxy (Dick). It's this history that led me to say in the a recent Arrow post that I was happy Arrow Team B didn't take the name Outsiders. It doesn't really belong to GA history. The name definitely belongs in Batman and Black Lightning mythos.

(As I say, I stopped reading at a certain point, which was prior to the arrival on the scene of Jefferson's daughters, so to me Thunder and Lighting will likely always be Teen Titans antagonists, but progress keeps progressing and change keeps changing.)
posted by sardonyx at 1:34 PM on February 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I kind of liked the awkward shower conversation. I mean yeah it was creepy and inappropriate but it was supposed to be. The non-sequitur about foot drying order was just Jefferson trying to find anything, something, to tell the young man to not give his daughter the D. So he leaps on the first thing that he can complain about in the conversation. I could have done without the whole thing, it didn't play well, but I get what they were going for.

I like Anissa's love stories even if they're verging too far into the "all lesbians are glam femme chicks straight guys agree are hot" for me. I hope we get a lot of Grace Choi, she seems fun. And the whole bit about "Miss Black Lives Matter" from the scorned girlfriend was hilarious. I appreciate this show continues to tread awkward racial lines like that. It's gonna misstep at some point, but right now it's all pretty fascinating.
posted by Nelson at 8:20 AM on February 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

The non-sequitur about foot drying order was just Jefferson trying to find anything, something, to tell the young man to not give his daughter the D. So he leaps on the first thing that he can complain about in the conversation.

I think you really nailed what was up there, which is something that I've been idly turning over in my head all week. Thank you. :)

While, like you and everybody, I don't think it worked... I like that they're depicting Jefferson with such humanity, good and bad.

One problem that crops up in most of the Arrowverse shows - and a lot of superhero fiction generally - is how much the heroes get shilled as inherently morally superior. (This is part of why I have come to love Legends of Tomorrow so much - the protagonists are explicitly screwups.) Like, Barry Allen is supposed to be this inspiring paragon of virtue instead of a lunkhead. Supergirl can basically do no wrong. That bothers me on a lot of levels.

Jefferson is explicitly and routinely compared to Jesus even in his civilian identity, nevermind in costume... but the show is taking great pains to show us that he's human. He has this complex interior life that shapes when he even chooses to don the costume, and I'm loving that even when it doesn't quite gel. Trusting the audience to understand that even the best person can be a jerk sometimes is... well. I'm glad they're doing that even if particular instances don't quite work. (This is much of the appeal of the Netflix MCU shows to me too.)

Basically, I think the same impulse that makes this show so good also motivated the weird shower conversation.
posted by mordax at 10:21 AM on February 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

The non-sequitur about foot drying order was just Jefferson trying to find anything, something, to tell the young man to not give his daughter the D.

I don't mind that or even think it's a non-sequitur - you SHOULDN'T work your way up from your feet! It's that a grown-ass man in authority opened a conversation with a teen boy by asking him about showering. That's creepy, and I have to think that Jefferson would know it's creepy and inappropriate even while wanting to lash out at the guy who's gonna pickle tickle his daughter.
posted by phearlez at 2:47 PM on February 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

Nthing that the shower conversation was godawful and a bad note in an episode that mostly was good on handling kid sex issues. And then yeah, taking his dick out of commission..ugh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:34 PM on February 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was finding the lack of patriarchal bullshit was breaking my immersion more than the super powers so I wasn't bothered by the scene. I mean it was uncomfortable, yeah, but he was obviously overstepping and being a weirdo in a "don't touch my daughter" sort of way. And for the large role that the church apparently plays in the parents' lives I was pretty surprised by how accepting they were of homosexuality, pre-marital sex, etc.
posted by ODiV at 7:39 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Church is in interesting place/ organization - among some communities, it's a default gathering place, and I can see that some people attend church out of an obligation to be active in a range of parts of their community. Also, there are plenty of liberal folks who attend church. So while I get the feeling that it's a weird fit, I don't think it's that weird for the very progressive/ liberal parents to also be active members in their church.

As for the "tell me how you shower" scene ... I get the intention, but the path to that intention was ... not good.

My gripe for the episode: so Black Lightning has his (corrupt?) techno-Alfred helping him plan out what could happen at the march, and they talk about the possible attack plans. He stops an attack with an automatic weapon, then zaps a guy with a handgun, and then he thinks "that's it"? No worries about another attack when two fail? No looking behind you for someone who might, I don't know, shoot you in the back of your unprotected head? Oh well, I guess no one died, and we got to avoid the Saturday night rendezvous, even if it's because Khalil is now paraplegic. Perhaps Black Lightning will learn to use his powers to heal the sick, bringing the Black Jesus theme full circle?

Also, it's interesting that he's called Black Jesus, and then turns to violence when the path of peace is not achieved through non-violent means -- I've been listening to Jesus Christ Super Star recently, so the story of Christ has been on my mind lately. He's like a non-comedic Gandhi II.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:45 AM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

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