‘Black Lightning 1×01 Review: “The Resurrection”

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The CW’s newest superhero series charged out of the gate and kept its foot on the gas with episode one, titled “The Resurrection.” It was hard to contain my excitement as I waited for Jefferson Pierce, the clean cut and principled principal to say to hell with it and become Black Lightning.

And of course he had good reason to do so when he did: the 100 gang scum bags, disrespectful ass cops, and his rebellious 16-year old daughter for good measure. This episode gave us the old superhero playbook and sprinkled it with a whole lotta blackness.  Black Lightning has me hype and intrigued, and I am definitely in it for the long haul, but I can’t help but wonder what the long haul will look like for this hero and his family.

The Old

Episode one gives us Jefferson Pierce- your run of the mill hero with “regular” superhero problems: He’s conflicted about his powers because of what they have cost him. To save lives, Jefferson has had to give up his own.  We see him longing for a reconciliation with the love of his life and being Black Lightning stands in the way. No matter how much he tries though, he can’t keep the meta human inside at bay.

When his life or his loved ones are threatened there is no talking to good old principal Pierce – you get Black Lightning.  The 100 flunky, Will, learned that the hard way as he dangled above his car suspended by a string of electricity.  The cops learned it too when they got their cruiser exploded for deciding to say “Get your black ass on the ground” one too many times on the wrong day. Who didn’t cheer when that happened?

What’s New

“The Resurrection” gives us a superhero story line that’s as fearless as its titular star.  From tackling police brutality to an activist daughter, Black Lightning chose not to tip toe around real urban issues but to step right on those land mines. There was real TV One commentator Roland Martin, the real state Senator Nina Turner, the debate about metal detectors in schools, anti-violence protests gone awry, a city experiencing a nauseating number of shootings in one weekend- you name it, Black Lighting dropped it in the premiere. Was it too much? Maybe, but then again it’s true that these problems converge on communities like Freeland all at once, and this pressure cooker was enough to propel our new hero to action.

Not counting saying Black Lightning, I lost count of the amount of times characters said the word ‘black’.  At times I wondered who the writers were really speaking to with some of the dialogue choices like when LaLa called Jefferson “Black Jesus”. I wondered if all of the times the word ‘black’ was used was necessary and how that played to non-black audiences. Perhaps the shock of Black Lightning’s blackness was what the pilot needed to make its grand entrance to DCTV. I wonder…

Aside from The Incredibles, I haven’t seen a nuclear family of superhero crime fighters on the screen. By the end of the episode, we see that Anissa’s superpowers have been activated and it probably won’t be long before Jennifer’s are too. (Although, these two can obviously take care of themselves without powers) The newness of a family with powers instead of just one main character and their friends is an avenue I’m looking forward to the writers exploring this season. (*coughs* and that crossover with The Flash, where Iris explores the 100’s hold on Freeland and/or the emergence of a new hero or Joe going to help the police department get a hold on crime *coughs*)

Last Thoughts

What I didn’t wonder about with Black Lightning was the family dynamic. If the CW does anything right with their heroes, they usually give them at least one solid relationship to hold onto. The Pierce family chemistry is electric (really-no pun intended) and is the solid foundation on which I think this show will stand. Like Flash, the actors have a strength and an ability to convey strong emotion that ties them together. Anissa and Jennifer sleeping in bed together at the end of a terrifying night was a great example of those close knit relationships. And the sexy longing stares that Jeff gives Lynn lit up the room. (I’m so not trying to play on the lightning thing but it’s kinda hard not to)

My biggest wonder is how long can Black Lightning exist in his own universe with street thugs and drug dealers as villians? As a metahuman who can absorb, manipulate, and shoot electricity, what mere human would stand a chance? Once Tobias and the 100 are gone (which should be fairly soon because if you fried me with electricity, I’m taking my business elsewhere) what’s next for our new hero and his metahuman daughters? Unless Tobias is like Lex Luthor, there has to be an element of other wordliness that comes to this city or there won’t be any real challenges for this super family.  They need more universes and more metahumans to mingle with.*coughs* crossover *cough*

I’m not too worried though; I know this hero’s story is in good hands, and I can’t wait to see where Salim and Mara take him.

Just some meandering thoughts I was having as I watched:

  • Tobias and the harpoon- play on the name Tobias Whale-where we goin with that?
  • Gambi runs a Kingsman suit shop in Freeland
  • Are more “real” people cameos in the cards? If so, WHY???
  • Did Anissa and Jennifer take self-defense classes or is it the latent powers that make them so fearless?

What did you think of the Black Lightning series premiere?

Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on the CW.

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