Before you read on, please be aware that there are SPOILERS in this article.
So, after a long wait for this to come to our screens, Black Lightning is here, and boy are we glad.
First episode up was “The Resurrection”, a title that tells us what we need to know about the series premiere. After so many years, BLACK LIGHTNING IS BACK to fight crime and help clean up his city.
Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning – Esteemed high school principal, pillar of the community
Anissa Pierce – Medical school student / teaches part-time at the same high school as her dad
Jennifer Pierce – Athlete extraordinaire with a wild streak
Lynne Pierce – Ex-wife of Jefferson
We start the episode in a police station, where we are introduced to Jefferson Pierce and, his daughter, Jennifer (who, as it happens, is narrating during this opening). They are sat, in a police station with a storm happening outside, waiting to bail out Jefferson’s older daughter Anissa. Anissa has been involved in a protest against a criminal group known as The 100 Gang. On their drive home, they are suddenly stopped and pulled over by the police. Jennifer and Anissa don’t take to kindly to this and do their best to disrupt the process of them trying to get an identification from a woman the police have in the back of their car. Jefferson does his best to ensure his daughters stop their actions, even though he is irate himself. On asking what this was all about, one of the police officers only offers “Have a good evening, sir” to which Jefferson doesn’t take kindly, asking the question again and being told a liquor store has been robbed. There are obvious racial undertones in place here (a black man with daughter, in a car, dressed in a nice suit – still a black man in this city) and we see how this affects Jefferson by getting a first glimpse of his rage coming to the surface. His eyes light up and we see the effect this has on the electrics of the cars.
We then see Jefferson (again an another nice suit to be fair) going about his duties, as the Principal of Garfield High School at an evening event. He loves his position, the pupils react to him and the teachers (well, Ms Fowdy in particular) fawn over him. He’s a popular guy within the city and we find that he and his daughters are all as popular, beacons of the city if you will. At the even, we also meet his ex-wife Lynne and we find out the reason for their separation; his previous life as Black Lightning being the reason and putting that first, before his family.
While at the event, we are shown the younger daughter, Jennifer, in a bathroom getting ready for a “party” that she is planning to sneak off to, intending to be back before anyone, her father especially, knows any better. She is caught here by her sister, who has been trying to figure out why she is not in the hall and Anissa agrees to her attending this “party” providing she is back home by an agreed time.
As we now know, Jennifer is a rebel and, therefore, the talk of attending a party is a bit of a fib. In fact, she has arrived at Club 100. The name gives it away that this is a club affiliated to The 100 Gang, full of unsavory sorts as you’d expect. Here, Jennifer becomes involved with a guy called Will who, it turns out is a drug dealer for one of the bosses of the gang, Lala. Now, Will owes Lala money and is therefore dragged into his office, along with Jennifer to “get things sorted”. While here, Will also, and despite her obvious rejection of the idea, agrees to Lala offering to pimp Jennifer to anyone who will pay, in order to get his money back. A knee to the crotch sorts him out.
Jefferson realises his daughter is missing and, thanks to Anissa, realises that she is at Club 100. Quickly, he springs in to action and is on his way to the club to get his daughter out of there. His rage brings about Black Lightning, power goes out as he absorbs the electricity, lights up the club and gets himself shot in the process. Coming out of the club, he runs in to two police officers who pull tasers on his. They shoot the tasers at him but, being who he is, he absorbs the power, firing it right back art them and blowing up their car.
We see Jefferson retreat to a tailor’s store and, here, we meet Peter Gambi, Jefferson Alfred if you will. Gambi stitches him up, tells him that his actions were correct and that the city needs Black Lightning, not that Jefferson is convinced as yet. On his return home, Lynne is waiting for him and, because of what happened with Jennifer, asks if Black Lightning is back, to which the reply is in the negative.
A new school day and, drug dealer Will turns up at Garfield High looking for Jennifer, pretty much wanting to know is things are ok between the two of them (I know right?). He tries to grab her, but Anissa takes over and puts him down. Will attempts to pull a gun out on her but Jefferson arrives and talks him out of going any further.
To try to help the situation, Jefferson decides to go straight to Lala and talk to him. Lala is a former student of Jeffersons and he wants to talk to him about Will returning (or rather not returning) and making a mistake he will regret. There’s a bit of back and forth here and we see Lala’s treating of the kids around him, his way of discipline etc, but they do come to a, sort of understanding over Will but it won’t be the end of it as Lala tells Jefferson that he owes him one.
However, Will wants to do things his own way and arrives at the school with gang members supporting him, bursts in to the classroom that Jennifer is being taught in, by Anissa, and they are both kidnapped. Jefferson, quite obviously, doesn’t take kindly to this. He visits Gambi, whio has been working on a new suit for Black Lightning and, in true superhero fashion, BL is really here. With ex-wife Lynne’s blessing (quick turnaround on feelings towards BL when it invloves your family – quite correct too), Black Lightning races to save his girls from the gang and people die as he ploughs his way through them, including bad egg Will, and he has just got over the hammering he was given by Lala for kidnapping the girls. The girls get out of the motel room they were being kept in and we later see them giving statements to the police as BL watches from the roof.
Lala is driving away from the motel and is stopped by a car containing stooges of Tobias Whale, who snatch him, taking him to his boss. While there, Tobias shoots him with a harpoon gun, pulling him towards the table he is sat at (ouch). Tobias orders him to deal with Black Lightning.
The final scene, we see Anissa waking up from what is a bad dream. She visits the bathroom, shaken from her dream and what has happened. A she is facing the mirror, thinking about all that has transpired we see her hands glow and, holding the sink tightly, she breaks it in half with massive strength.
This was a cracking set up for this new series, a super introduction to this superhero. I’ll be honest, I’ve not known much about the character but, after seeing this, I have no doubt I’m gonna love it.
Cress Williams plays the title role so well, from supportive Principal, to concerned father, to retired superhero, to, resurrected, kick ass superhero once more. He goes from one to another seamlessly and I’m looking forward to more.
Nafessa Williams looks like she’s going to be great as Thunder. Love the flashes of her skills in taking on Will and her beliefs (with the protesting she takes on) show that she will do what is best for the city.
China Anne McLain is another super young actress and one I remember from watching A.N.T Farm with my daughter a few years back. So much character from episode 1 shows she’ll be one to look out for.
Christine Adams is always a good actress to watch and I’ve seen her in plenty. Even from her turn in Doctor Who, back in 2005/6 she was a stand out actress. Love the hair as well, suits her to a tee.
William Catlett as Lala, just from his first show, is easily going to be a character you’ll love or hate but, either way, he’ll do a cracking job. Lala is the complete opposite of Jefferson in the way they teach the kids around them the ways of their world. A great contrast between the two of them, really shown in the scene where Jefferson and Lala meet.
James Remar – Jefferson Alfred almost. I really am looking forward to seeing much more from him, superb here and love the chemistry already between him and Williams. One of my favorurite actors who hasn’t been,completely, massive, all the way from his days in 48 Hours with Eddie Murphy.
Marvin “Krondon” Jones III – While not seeing too much of him, we know his deal. The gang leader, you know he’s not one who wants to be messed with (that harpoon scene – ow, ow, ow). Has the look, also, as a figure not to be messed with.
That’s the main cast out-of-the-way, the show itself was great. There are elements of black culture thrown in there, from the music to quotes from great leaders. Dark, gritty, great action, great performances and a super opening story, that features so much from gang culture to corruption, it had it all.
A few random things – Anissa flipping Will was superb, the knee to the crotch from Jennifer; shows they are both fighters.
A completely different kettle of fish to the other shows on the CW.
Nice to see it separate from the “Arrowverse” – although I am pretty sure that if this show gains momentum over the course of a year or two, it will happen.
James Remar – I’m sorry to say it again but it is brilliant to see him in this.
Lala – why Lala, isn’t your name Latavius? I know what I’d rather be called.
Oh, hold on, Tobias Whale? Harpoon? Like it…
Anyway, it’s a 9/10 for me for the first episode.