Black Lightning premiered and everyone as far as the eye could see gave it a standing ovation. I’m still clapping. This is not your regular scheduled superhero programming folks; Black lightning is superherodom meets the real world. There’s no preliminary superhero struggle; no contemplation about getting a suit or if Black lightning should have a cape. Black lightning’s problems are relatable and relevant. We’re talking racial injustice, gang violence, fatherhood, family life, and the everyday struggles of trying to live your best life.
The first episode introduces Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) as the former superhero, Black Lightning, who hung up the suit for 9 years to become a principal, father, and all around family man. This, in itself, is a step away from the superhero that is usually younger and has little responsibility other than to save the day. This first episode is also different from the self-exploration that we are used to with superheroes that are just discovering their powers. We have no idea what prompted him into the suit and we never get to see him learn how to control electricity, and I’m okay with this. It’s refreshing not having to watch the painful process of being a newbie.
Pierce is pushed back into being a superhero by a number of triggers. First, he’s stopped multiple times by police and his daughter Anissa (Nafessa Williams) had recently been arrested for a protest gone wrong. Pierce’s tailored suit, professional disposition and speech, and obvious family car do not spare him from a rough police interrogation when they claim that he matches the description of a robber. We briefly see the electricity flash in his eyes but he keeps his cool. Did I mention his daughters were in the car? These scenarios magnify the ongoing issues within our society, and the fact that Pierce is a black man and we are viewing this through his eyes brings a much-needed understanding of the subject. This goes out to those that claim they do not see racism in the current day and struggle to comprehend the black communities’ plights.
If you think dwelling on anger is Black Lightning’s thing because it’s what we would expect from a superhero with injustices at hand, guess again. These events are not enough to push Pierce back into the crime-fighting world. He’s striving to get his wife, Lynn (Christine Adams), back into his life full force. The reason they were even separated was that she couldn’t handle him coming home bloodied up every night. So, donning the suit again isn’t what he wanted to do, not even for some temporary justice. The straw that broke the camel’s back is that Jennifer, who is a high school aged girl dying to shed her goody-two-shoes reputation, hangs out with a member of the local 100 gang, and gains an unwanted stalker.
Jennifer’s new gang member friend barely hung out with the girl for more than three hours and acts like she owes him his life. A bruised ego goes a long way as the gang member’s toxic masculinity pits him up against Pierce. As a principal, Pierce has made negotiations with the local gangs to make sure that his school is safe. This includes his daughters, one of which is a teacher. But this one member, who is the cousin of Pierce’s main contact, changes their arrangement and forces Black Lightning to handle business for his family and community.
The fighting and electric action is nothing short of Arrow and Flash greatness. They did not disappoint. So in the midst of discovering that our superhero has a lot of weight on his shoulders, we still get the butt-kicking action of a DC comic based TV show. And just when the day is saved, we discover that there’s someone higher up in the 100 gang ranks to worry about named Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) and Annisa shows she’s truly daddy’s little girl and breaks her bathroom sink when her powers kick in.
Here are some thoughts on the episode “The Resurrection”:
- Pierce’s role as a father and educator goes beyond anything that’s been portrayed when he and his daughter start making points to each other by quoting civil rights leader. Bet you’ve never seen that on a show before.
- I was shipping Pierce and Lynn from the first time they were on screen together. These two do not act like they’re separated. They need to stop it and get back together.
- One of the important points of the gang interference is to show how a seemingly normal family that is going about their business could get caught in the middle of something they know nothing about. This one goes out to those that don’t understand how outside influences can affect individuals that are not criminal.
- Pierce’s gang contact Latavius, who prefers the moniker LaLa (LMAO), introduces a passive aggressive tough love dynamic with his son that left me confused. His son, Malik, was well spoken and polite and there seemed to be some warm fatherly stuff going on, but then Lala started bugging out on the kid.
- I never used the word VIGILANTE on this blog (except for here). Black Lightning is a superhero, crime fighter, electric butt-kicker. As pointed out in the show, Vigilante has negative connotations of criminal.
What did you get from watching Black Lightning? Comment below or message me here ->
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