What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about the Black Lightning Season Finale, “The Book of War: Chapter Three: Liberation”! First off, I’m still shocked that next to Arrow, this is the first of the ongoing Arrowverse series to reach a season finale for the year. At the same time happy because this means Black Lightning is the only show not to mess with our viewing schedule with too many delays. It was almost nonstop action from start to finish for the second half of the season. All getting us to this point where it as truly become a fight for the soul of Freeland.
As I said last week, you couldn’t have asked for a better episode to set things up for the season finale last night. “The Book of War: Chapter Two: Freedom Ain’t Free” was an endearing hour of everyone taking in the reality that a war is about to begin, and anything can happen once feet hit the ground. Jefferson and Jennifer both find this out the hard way when just the first confrontation set the tone for everything else to follow. How do you fight back against a force strong enough to take down their heavy hitter in the first round? That question was answered almost right away with a strong sense of urgency at the start of this season finale. That first fight set the tone for everything tragic that was about to unfold in the city of Freeland. One where the heroes were already at a disadvantage in power and planning. With that said, the pacing was excellent from the minute we jumped into this final hour.
What was already personal, became so much more when Black Lightning faced off against Gravedigger. If there was one character we needed to shine more than most, it was Black Lightning himself. It goes without saying that this season a lot more other characters were getting their time in the spotlight. Who can argue with that? A main character is only as good as the supporting cast! Though in this final hour, this was all Black Lightning reminding everyone why he is not the one to overlook when the job needs to get done. I loved that there was focus in everything he did. The growth was definitely noticeable as well because he wasn’t overcome with emotions or making the silly decisions that wouldn’t make sense at a time like this. The only thing which killed me is that even at this point in time they have not gotten him to a level where we could actually see that literal black lightning. Maybe they’re waiting for that to be earned, but I do hope at some point rather than never it happens. We’ve all seen Young Justice to know what he is fully capable of.
As for the rest of the cast, it was awesome to see how everyone played the parts they needed to play in this war. Normally in a war you look for things to be pretty straightforward, but that was not the case here. It was more of a matter of getting everyone where they needed to be. Whether that was Jennifer reinforcing where she stands on the meta situation, Lynn coming to terms with the lines that you can sometimes be forced to cross, or even Anissa realizing what it means for everyone else not to be as invincible as her. Not one person wasn’t hit with an experience which you could overlook. Not even characters like Lala or Lady Eve who took time to figure out what was truly at stake in fighting for this city.
If there was one thing we had to look forward to in this season finale, it was how Henderson would exit the show. When a character that central leaves a show, there’s only two ways that happens. They either move on somehow, or they are killed off. I think we all knew what this was going to be considering this episode is all about the war, and the kind of loss this city could experience under such circumstances. How they handled Henderson’s exit was perfect because he got a hero’s farewell. This has always been a character who does what is right, and damn the possible consequences. They kept Henderson true to that characterization from start to bitter end. You couldn’t have asked for better than that.
Another thing we had to look forward to was the testimony by the end of the war. This I thought they handled very well. Up to this point, you would never have really looked at Black Lightning or any of the others as the kind to stand before a table of judges to deal out some justice. It was refreshing that they could give us a scene like this and do so without leaning into the trouble that tends to come with a person dealing with the justice system. It makes a strong statement towards their legitimacy as heroes. Aside from this, it was genius that the judges could actually be the writers/creator.
What can I say about Gravedigger? Wayne Brady was a wonderful surprise in this role. They did not once allow us to forget how dangerous this guy is as the first metahuman. To have the powers he already did on top of what was added to his arsenal? That is what you call a powerhouse. The episodes before, and even this one spent the time well proving what can be accomplished from someone who has as many powers as he did and with the tactical mind to make use of them all under the right circumstances. At the same time his dialogue was brilliant for the fact that there was not one inch given to the determination and conviction in his words. He jumps into a fight knowing he’s going to win, but still puts the effort into trying to tell the person he doesn’t want to hurt them. That is very different from a villain like Tobias who simply talks to get in your head or mock you. I mean, how he even accomplished this while still being very intimidating was the real kicker too. How things ended for Gravedigger was one of the most commendable things they could have done. I know what I expected being an Arrowverse show, but the showrunners kept our faith in them that they could do better for even the big bad.
I know some people were definitely looking forward to Tobias doing something big in this finale, but honestly this was not that kind of season for Tobias. Don’t get me wrong, Tobias is important. What makes Black Lightning unique compared to the others is the fact that they aren’t trying to do villains of the week. You get one or two villains and they run wild with their stories. Everything this season was building up to the grand entrance of Gravedigger. After that, they were setting up Tobias for what will eventually come next for this ultimate opportunist. They did this while never once allowing us to forget that this guy knows how to play the game. He sees the pieces and moves the accordingly in his head. You really would not have expected where he found himself at the end before the moment came at the end of the finale.
That said, even how they handled Painkiller by the end was worth recognizing. This story with Khalil could have ended a lot of ways, and they decided to end things on a note which left some hope for the kid.
The Black Lightning Season Finale “The Book of War: Chapter Three: Liberation” is probably the best season finale that we have gotten so far out of this series. That says a lot when these days the finale tends to hold more value than it sometimes actually should. The war was action-packed, it left you with emotional impact, it wrapped up numerous storylines, while also setting some things up for the next season. We’re definitely going to be looking at a new Freeland when this show picks back up again. Should be worth the wait!