Jefferson Pierce and his family may have survived Tobias's attack, but they're not out of the woods yet. In the premiere episode of season two, the board considers a motion to shut down the school, forcing Jefferson to go to Napier Frank to sway the vote; Jennifer struggles with her powers; Anissa finds a new way to give back to Freeland; and Freeland continues to suffer from the impact of Green Light.
In the first season of Black Lightning, the show showed a willingness to bring a sense of reality to the realm of superheroes by delving into real-world social issues through the lens of the Pierce family. With this foundation, the season quickly flourished into a heartfelt story about family, community and the meaning of heroism. In the premiere episode of season two, we quickly find out that the show isn’t holding anything back regarding these very issues. This fact is made clear by the all-too-real video of a slain young black male labelled as a “Green Light Baby” at the very beginning of the episode.
The first season truly found its strengths when functioning not simply as a great superhero story, but simply as a great drama television series. If we were to remove all of the superhero antics and costumes, we would still have a quality family drama series that explores relevant topics in an engaging and entertaining way. The continued development of this aspect of the show could be the biggest strength in the first episode of season two. In episode 2.01, there are real-world issues facing the Pierce family and the community driving the narrative forward, such as the school’s conflict with Jefferson and the local meetings held at church to discuss recent government actions. These all help to ground the episode in a way that not only makes the character’s struggles real, but also emphasizes the impacts of their previous actions.
While the episode does have all of the necessary components for a quality drama series, the superhero elements are stronger than they ever have been. We have Jefferson’s act of revealing his identity as Black Lightning which brings his longstanding friendship with Bill Henderson into question. Then Anissa’s seemingly Daredevil-inspired hallway fight to provide for the citizens of Freeland. But what could be the most impressive scene was Jennifer’s inability to control her power. Jefferson seemed to instinctively know what to do in this situation, and their embrace not only reduced her current state and charged Black Lightning’s abilities, it was also a beautiful visualization of the impact and power that loved ones can have. It was a heartfelt family moment that perfectly captures the essence of what makes the show so great.
As the episode comes to a close, we are given a few twists that set up both the next episode and the upcoming season as a whole. The slain “Green Light Baby” inexplicably rises from the dead and creates a chaotic scene in the middle of the day. Its a dramatic moment with a reaction from the boy’s mother that is absolutely heart wrenching. And after a full season of acting as Freeland High’s Principle, Jefferson finally decides that its best for him to resign after recent tragedies. This is a major plot shift for the series, and it will be interesting to see how future episodes address the issue. Finally, in what could be my favorite scene in the episode, Tobias finally makes his first season two appearance in a spectacularly violent fashion. He still has his notorious briefcase, and he is definitely back with a vengeance. Here’s to hoping we get more of who I consider to be one of The CW’s best villains as the season progresses.
Black Lightning continues to prove that you don’t have to be featured in annual crossovers or rely on household names to simply tell a great story. The premiere of the second season shows the creative talent behind this series has a story with a uniquely important message, and they have the ability to tell the story remarkably well.
The first episode of season two seems to have capitalized on everything that season one excelled at, delivering both powerful drama and truly awesome action scenes. Black Lightning remains a standout among The CW's rapidly growing roster of heroes because of its willingness to utilize the exploration of relevant real-world issues to expand on the character's lore and drive the story forward in an interesting and entertaining way.
Black Lightning Season 2 Premiere: The Book of Consequences
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Acting - 7/107/10
Music - 9/109/10
Production - 9/109/10
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