Black Lightning Drags the Truth Out
With the revelations of last week, this week’s episode of Black Lightning focuses on characters dealing with old and new truths. Jennifer comes to terms with her emerging powers and Peter operates under the consequences of revealing his past to Jefferson.
Warning: This review does not discuss major spoilers for episode eight, but openly discusses events from previous episodes. If you’re not caught up, what are you waiting for?
The Pierce Family’s New Normal
The show begins with Anissa telling Jennifer the truth about Black Lightning’s and Thunder’s identities. Jennifer’s reaction is about what you would expect—confusion and some anger. She stands in contrast to Anissa, who was generally excited and embraced the idea of being a superhero. In some of the best acting we’ve seen from China Anne McClain, Jennifer explicitly says that she doesn’t want the superhero lifestyle. Her anxiety is believable and relatable.
Additionally, Jefferson and Lynn are furious that the right to control how and when their daughter learns about the family secret has been taken away from them. For the first time, Anissa seems responsive to her parents’ concerns, realizing that she doesn’t always make the right decisions. She’s starting to consider the bigger picture and the responsibility she has to others. It’s an important character development for her to start seeing things outside of her own perspective.
Moreover, Jennifer grappling with all this new information highlights something that Black Lightning does very well. It’s a superhero show, but at its core it’s about family. For the most part, up until now that family dynamic focused on Jefferson and Anissa, and sometimes Jefferson and Lynn. Jennifer was always off to the side, largely due to not being in the know. This episode allows that family dynamic some room to develop, especially when it comes to the three Pierce women.
Heroes with Not Much to Do
A lack of villains holds this episode back. Tobias is absent for the second week in a row. Additionally, Lala doesn’t make an appearance. We do get see some of the conspiracy surrounding Freeland and Green Light, but it’s not much. Though we do get to see Black Lightning and Thunder in action toward the end of the episode, it’s not completely clear what impact they’ve had. It’s always fun to see Black Lightning throw down, but this time it just doesn’t feel like there’s much weight behind it. The last four episodes of the season need to be more engaging and dynamic as antagonisms come to a head.
On the other hand, most of the action we get in the first half of this episode comes from Peter, though he is removed from the Pierce family. Watching Peter engage in espionage and coercion is entertaining, to be sure. With all of his secrets revealed (we assume), the writers are free to use him as they want and show some of the skills of his former life. Though the new rift between Jefferson and Peter can be frustrating, the places it allows the show to go are interesting.
On a fun fanboy note, both Vixen and Supergirl are mentioned at different points in this episode. While it’s understandable that the showrunners wanted to keep Black Lightning as its own thing at first, it’s exciting to see some acknowledgment of the Arrowverse. I’m very much looking forward to possible future crossovers.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 PM on the CW.