Binge Theory 101 | Black Summer, Black Lightning, Gangs Of London


We can all watch “regular” television or wait for something to be picked up by a streaming service, and I myself prefer that latter of the two. With that said, Season 4 of CW’s Black Lightning is streaming on Netflix and is filled with parallels between life and fiction. I’ve followed the Black Lightning comic as a child, and he became one of the few DC characters that were relatable. In my urban upbringing, he fought lower-level street criminals although his abilities far outreached many of his contemporaries. That’s probably why the Justice League wanted to recruit him. Even in Season 4, Black Lightning was a featured character on the crossover, Crisis On Infinite Earths, which included Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman, and more. But that’s a story for another time.

With this season, Black Lightning battles some of the same criminals from previous seasons, like Tobias Whale and Latavius Johnson, out of the fictional town of Freeland, GA. He and his crime-fighting offspring Thunder and Lightning, along with Thunder’s girlfriend Wylde, do their best to deter all the villainous fiends throughout the season and even find themselves embattled with new adversaries while attempting to keep their community safe. What’s great about this season is how they portray real-life situations into episodes. We’re forced to have “what if” questions about Breonna Taylor if Black Lightning was around to fend off police from accidentally shooting her if they mistakenly entered the wrong apartment. Or even handling two racist police officers for profiling a young black male carrying a violin. Of course, this is fiction, and finding oneself involved, standing up, and getting physically involved would be answered with batons and bullets. It’s done well, embracing modern-day political culture but also giving fans closure within the ongoing disputes between good & evil. But it looks like there will be a season 5 which I’m 100% on board for.


I share an affinity for zombie films but usually refer back to the classics because I’ve never been a true fan of the new era of undead, with their quick-paced footwork, always on the attack. I’m getting there though because in movies, it becomes more of a challenge. The moment The Walking Dead first aired, it filled me with anxiety because of the faster pace zombies would take. Eventually, it slowed down with each episode that followed, allowing the characters opportune moments to run or fight. I think those quick-legged zombies still give me anxiety though.

Black Summer (Netflix) first aired back before the 2020 pandemic as we follow random characters attempting to outmaneuver zombies that would change soon after they died whether they were bitten or not. This made for interesting scenarios. There was a small group that made it to the end of the first season and as we patiently waited for the next season, delayed because of the pandemic obviously, would we see those same individuals trying to work together? I didn’t know how they were going to follow that up. The show starts off with a familiar face, alone, trying to get away from zombies of course but his life is quickly ended by others only looking for a way out themselves. Like the first season, the second season of Black Summer starts off erratically, with a visual cacophony of imagery that you have to piece together from episode to episode. “Oh, that was right before what happened in the last episode. I get it now.” The storyline(s) require your full attention in order to understand what’s going on, there are no skipping episodes. The Korean woman who no one seems to understand from the beginning returns, ducking and diving out of death’s path constantly. She finally encounters someone who speaks her language but we’ll eventually find out her fate in the next season if there is one. Black Summer is a weathered storm of characters that we’re never given a clue if they will survive or not. So far, looks like only three recurring actors will return, but always expect the unexpected


If we can be honest here, there are many from all walks of life that share a fascination with gang culture. I’m not usually one of those, coming from urban city life where I’ve seen dead bodies in apartment complexes riddled with bullets, known people who had been tied up and tossed off of roofs, and have seen enough people pull out guns to know to hit the concrete before bullets flew. So movies and television shows don’t impress me with their glorified violence and bloodshed. Although, I’ve never watched a show directing all of its attention across the pond. When one thinks of England we tend to envision the queen, Sherlock Holmes, and Errol Flynn. Is “Tally ho” part of their linguistic norm? I wouldn’t know, although I had someone call me “cheeky” once.

Gangs Of London (AMC) surrounds an Irish/English family whose rise to power is focused and clear. Legitimacy is the goal and reminiscent of the Corleone family’s attempt to go straight. It’s understandable considering crime can only get one so far before they get popped by the police or end up in an unmarked grave. There are turns around every street corner here though, and we see the flow of heroin making its presence known as many vie for power and survival. The Wallace family is at the core of the show as the family to beat. There are many that come for the young Sean Wallace who everyone believes to be a hothead, much like his deceased father, but a bit more erratic. Undercover officers infiltrate the family while others attempt to work for and against the family. No one is safe within the inner circle and when members of a Haitian gang are involved in a subplot, it gets bloody. Ok, this is worth its weight in deception & greed. AMC has branched out nicely here while its bread & butter is still firmly planted in the Dead. Season 2 of Gangs is expected to roll out in 2022 and I’ll be there, waiting and watching.