Black Lightning Grows Its Superhero World
In this week’s episode of Black Lightning, the Pierce family moves forward with their new normal after last week’s climax. Jefferson and Lynn struggle with how best to protect and help their daughters with threats in Freeland becoming bigger and bigger.
Warning: This review doesn’t contain spoilers for episode seven, but openly discusses spoilers from previous episodes.
Fathers and Daughters
Secrets are out. Last week’s episode ended with Jefferson and Anissa clashing with each other as Black Lightning and Thunder. Jefferson discovered her identity after knocking her out and eventually revealed himself to her when she came to.
This week, these revelations force both characters to face Jefferson’s hypocrisy, though Anissa is certainly more willing to confront it. Anissa’s literal confrontations with her parents parallel this. She’s naturally upset that her father preaches caution to her while putting himself in danger most nights.
On the other hand, Jefferson talks to Lynn about stopping Anissa because of how dangerous the vigilante lifestyle is. The irony seems lost on him for most of the episode. The contrast between how Jefferson and Black Lightning act emphasizes this irony. Jefferson is authoritative and judicious. Black Lightning, meanwhile, often acts like the cocky young person he worries that his daughter is.
This conflict between a protective father and an independent adult daughter is believable and engaging. The show seems to be using Jefferson and Anissa as its center now, and it’s working. Having characters we care about at the center makes the plot moving around them all the more compelling.
Outside of the Pierce Household
While Jefferson and Anissa work through their trust issues this episode, Peter is still hiding things and dealing with Lady Eve. However, it’s not hard to believe that he was and is doing the wrong things for the right reasons. He may have been successful in keeping Jefferson from going down a murderous path, but it came at the cost of the trust between them. Jefferson pushes him further away in this episode, and this might have more ramifications than either of them realize.
Trust in the criminal underworld fractures as well. Lady Eve and Tobias no longer seem to be on friendly terms. This is hard to talk about without going into spoilers, but suffice it to say that infighting in the criminal underworld is going to force every character to act in some way or another. With these developments, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III might be getting more screen time. I can’t wait because he absolutely steals every scene he’s in with the burning intimidation that he brings to Tobias.
The Good and the Bad
Overall, this was a well-written and directed episode. The heavy focus on racial issues from last week is absent this week. This can feel abrupt, but it ultimately doesn’t hurt the episode. The plot is moving along quickly now and with purpose. Anissa’s arc, in particular, has benefited from becoming more centralized. Her character feels important now as she grows, in contrast to her position in the first few episodes.
Sometimes, the dialogue can feel a little unnatural. Both James Remar and Christine Adams can be mechanical at times, which easily breaks immersion. However, most of the show revolves around Jefferson and Anissa. With their respective actors giving exceptional performances, acting and dialogue are not huge issues.
One of the stronger aspects is how Black Lightning portrays violence compared to other superhero shows in its class. At one point Tobias is fighting a cage match to practice his skills. The struggle between the two fighters is organic and harsh. This is representative of the violence in Black Lightning. It is far more tangible than the flashy fisticuffs you might see in similar shows.
In any case, Black Lightning is moving along swiftly. It might misstep here and there, but it’s never boring.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 PM on the CW.