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Credit: The CW

Black Lightning finally starts to pay up in Episode 108: 'Revelations'

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Mar 14, 2018, 11:38 AM EDT (Updated)

Honesty, rather refreshingly, invites stability both to the Pierce family and the motivations of Black Lightning in the macro. It's very seldom that TV families — Black TV families most especially — are awarded the openness the Pierce family (outside of Jefferson's superhero lives) share on television. The nature of that honesty has a top-down quality. Lynn and Jefferson as parents are usually able to control how much the girls know about Black Lightning while keeping wide space for communication allowing Anissa and Jennifer to be themselves freely. It's a delicate balance that is bound to be shaken up given the implications of this week's episode.

While never being shown in the Pierce home, Peter Gambi was always assumed to at least tangentially be a part of the family, despite the clear signs of dissension. Though Black Lightning's methodical handling of the reveal — that Gambi is connected to a government agency involved with the proliferation of Green Light in Freeland — feels like a slog at points, the subplot is the show's surest source of intrigue (even if that intrigue manifests itself in complaints sometimes!).

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Credit: The CW

This week's episode finds Jefferson, Lynn and Anissa facing the dual tasks of finding Lady Eve's killer and learning the history of Green Light in Freeland. What they find instead is a multilayered conspiracy that extends a thru-line from a wicked federal government agency called the ASA; a corrupt Freeland police department that would willingly sacrifice one of their own to avoid exposure; an unimaginable amount of government resources invested experiments on children; and a 30-year-old murder investigation that left Tobias Whale without a political career and Jefferson Pierce without a father. All that, plus LaLa is a brain-damaged Lazarus haunting his old stomping grounds while seeing (and... kissing?) the ghost of LaWanda, the courageous Black mother he killed a while back.

Whew. There's a lot going on!

The appropriately-named "Revelations" felt packed with payoffs building up for the entire season while keeping the door open for Black Lightning's final flourish in the next coming weeks. Director Tanya Hamilton leaps from scheming to revealing with aplomb; taking up the helm after boring week for Jennifer (and everyone else, honestly), who literally says "I'm bored" in her first scene while interning (unpaid labor, much?) at the lab. Khalil's storyline has taken a backseat in recent weeks, leaving Jennifer with very little to do while Anissa and their parents learn how to deal with her burgeoning power.

Welp. Now they're about to have two superhero-in-training daughters to worryingly sip wine for. In what felt like a wink-wink to Samsung's exploding phone troubles, Jennifer unlocks a fire manipulation ability when she, in worry for a friend's safety, torches her phone at school. Appropriately scared, but curious, Jennifer picks up the ability a little quickly, calling forth the power the first time she tries.

Wonkiness still works its way into this week's episode. LaWanda's ghost haunts Lala while he showers, where he then kisses her for no real reason. The show hasn't gestured towards the two having any romantic history so it seemed a bit out of place. As does Gambi's church visit where a strange woman, Mrs. Johnson, advises him on trusting God's path. While this latter oddity might've been coded, Gambi hasn't really shown (to my knowledge!) a Christian proclivity.

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Credit: The CW

Even worse, he wasn't there feeling down about, oh, I don't know, killing Joey Toledo the night before. Instead, he felt cross about telling Jefferson the truth, which, honestly, shouldn't have been such an existential crisis in the first place. The scene does, however, concretize Gambi's genuine care for the Pierce family even if randomly showing up alone at a church where an anonymous singer goes on about the afterlife is narratively questionable.

At its best, "Revelations" is a much-needed, momentous episode that maneuvered Black Lightning’s multiple storylines in thrilling fashion. Lynn pieces everything together by the episode's end, shifting the gravity of the episode from concern about Anissa's inculcation into Black Lightning's world toward the forces — both bureaucratic (the ASA) and anthropologic (drug abuse in Freeland) — impacting the world outside of Black Lightning. With Jennifer's powers on the rise, even more superpowered secrets are sure to be revealed.

As the chaos of conspiracy in Freeland brews, the Pierce-hub is going to have to come clean, and fast. It's going to take their combined might to fend off the storm approaching.

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