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Black Lightning -The Book of Occupation: Chapter One: Birth of Blackbird - Review

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Season One Exit Quote: “I’m swearing in Black Lightning, Thunder, and whatever you’re calling yourself. The Markovian War is coming. And Freeland is ground Zero.”

I took the show at its word, especially after they replayed that quote right before they started the season premiere. So, I thought the opening segment was set after a major loss in the war with Markova.

When the meta, Ned Kreegan, ‘attacked’ the facility, I thought he was an American resistance fighter trying to save the Freeland kids from the Markovians.

Unfortunately, the realities of a TV budget didn’t help the situation. The attack that Ned was a part of seemed to be intended to show the audience that the Markovians are a real threat.

But the bulk of the attack was completely off screen and the “Markovian threat” turned out to be a disenchanted former American soldier.

So is this “war” real or an elaborate lie Odell has come up with in order to build an American Meta army? (Although, we don’t see the government doing ANYTHING, during the episode, toward actually building this army.)

Why was Jefferson locked up for 30 days? The last moment of season 2 was him being drafted.

What was the purpose of the interrogations? They didn’t seem to garner new information (the government already has data down to their DNA). So why bother?

What is the purpose of this facility? I couldn’t help but feel like the main purpose of the opening scenes was a commentary on the issues this country has been dealing with over the last few months rather than furthering the story.

I have no problem with a story getting the audience to examine the world we live in, but those scenes should be there to serve the story first and social commentary second.

If, as Odell stated at the top of the episode, war is coming to Freeland, it would have been much more useful if those interrogations scenes had been about recruiting or manipulating these kids into fighting for their country.

Instead everything I saw seemed to be more effective as a recruitment tool for the Markovians.

Sadly, I was bounced so far out of the story by this point that I found myself wondering why the Chief of Police was nowhere to be found. He should have at least been on the phone reiterating to Henderson that he had to follow Commander Williams’s orders.

I was surprised by the Commander’s lack of subtlety. Not necessarily that he had no subtlety, but that the government (or rather Odell) would take a bullying approach, rather than trying to manipulate the community into going with the flow. Manipulation has always been Odell’s go to approach, so why send the bully in?

We’re finally told, near the end of the episode, that Odell’s assignment is to gather the Metas and turn them into weapons for the U.S. and keep the public from finding out that the President gave the order. We should have been seeing evidence of this throughout the first act.

That first commercial break was a godsend to me in this episode. It gave me time to take a breath. I was able to come back to the episode and appreciate the fact that the show I have enjoyed for two seasons had finally begun.

It quickly became clear why the chapter is called “Birth of Blackbird”. When Blackbird first appeared, she was mostly a way for Anissa to act out when she and her father disagreed.

But Blackbird turned out to be a great way for Anissa to continue her family’s work while Black Lightning is off the grid.

Gambi’s back and much more involved in the fight to save Freeland. This I’m loving. It was great watching him and Anissa team up to rescue targeted children and get them out of Freeland.

Anissa is still hunting for Grace. Though Anissa may have a new relationship this season. I thought the reporter was setting up Anissa, until she started babbling about not picking up women in bars. It was kind of endearing.

How awesome is Anissa’s apartment? She even has a mini-Batcave. Her fight choreography was really working for me in this episode.

Jennifer seems much more centered this season; centered enough to listen to Gambi’s logic and think before she acts. Hopefully, this means we’ll see her become part of the team. The scene between Jennifer and Anissa was one of my favorites of the episode.

Jefferson seems to have picked up a new power...or gained access to one that he previously needed Gambi’s tech to access. Kind of cool. Though I couldn’t help wonder why it only happened when he was looking down.

At least it allowed him to give Lynne a heads up before Odell fed her the pile of lies about what happened to Issa.

Why did Odell kill Issa? The kid is a weapon that could come in handy multiple times in a war. Why kill him now?

He’s got him isolated in a locked cell with a device that prevents his powers from working. It seems really wasteful to kill the kid after he gathers one piece of damning intel.

I know I sound like I hated the season premiere. I didn’t. I did have a number of issues with the first act, but as we got further into the episode, I began to enjoy myself much more.

I’m looking forward to the promised stories surrounding Anissa, Jennifer and Gambi.

However, I am concerned that Odell won’t prove to be as smart a villain as he seemed to be during season 2.

He’s not actually doing anything to build a reliable army. We saw no signs that he’s attempting to recruit or conscript the Metas he’s found, into this army.

He’s wasteful with his resources. He locked Black Lightning up for 30 days, instead of putting him to use and killed off Issa, the interrogator guaranteed to get the truth from anyone. It’s disappointing.

I want to worry that the Pierce Family will loose to Odell. I need the writers to up Odell’s game; add in some military strategy to make his manipulative nature truly terrifying. I want my heroes to have to work for their victories.

I don’t want to become disenchanted with this show as I have with other shows in The CW DC Universe.

What did you guys think of the episode?

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