Black Lightning S01E01 Recap

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SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.

2018 is definitely the year of the Black superhero. Not only are we getting Black Panther in February and the second season of Marvel/Netflix’s Luke Cage sometime this year, but just before they arrive we also have what is poised to be the next big superhero TV series: Black Lightning. And just in one episode it has proved that it is far better than all of its other DC/CW shows. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t suffer their fate and get progressively worse over a very short period of time. This show is almost too good and too sophisticated to be on The CW.

I didn’t get invested in this episode – and the show on the whole – until after Anissa and Jennifer were kidnapped. Up until that point, the show was pretty much just establishing the characters and the world in which they exist. It wasn’t boring, but it wasn’t exactly captivating for me. That being said, it introduced the characters very well and characterised them succinctly and efficiently. So that before the episode was even finished, I felt like I knew who they were and understood where they were coming from. They feel like real people.

I must say though that I don’t particularly like Jennifer right now. As someone who knows what her community is going through at the moment and who is behind the chaos and turmoil, she really should not have gone into a club that shares the same name as the gang ruining her community and is a well known hang out spot for its members. I have no idea what she was looking for and what she expected to get from the place.

More unlikeable than her, however, are Will and Lala. They’re both despicable. Will because he literally just met Jennifer in the same club and offered her up to be forced into prostitution so that he could pay off his debt to Lala. And Lala for suggesting it in the first place (the fact that he employs children to sell drugs also makes him detestable). I knew that something bad was going to happen when that random guy wouldn’t let Jennifer leave the booth that she was sharing with Will, but I didn’t expect it to be something like that.

That’s one thing that separates this show from the rest of the DC/CW comic book shows; it’s awfully mature. It’s not just because it features drugs, gang culture, gun violence, racial profiling and police brutality, but the way it handles them too. Even before those elements are introduced it feels mature, just because of its direction and tone. It doesn’t feel like a CW show at all.

I haven’t made up my mind about how I feel about Anissa yet, but one thing that both she and Jennifer did that I really loved them for was beating up Will for being the punk ass that he is. Again the show went in a different direction than I expected when he showed up to the school looking for Jennifer. I didn’t think that it would escalate to him reaching for his gun to shoot Anissa. I didn’t think that he would have a gun on him to begin with. Anissa had every right to lay him out the way that she did, but it was perhaps not for the best. With people like Will, those kind of reactions only make the situation worse and boy did the situation get way worse.

He kidnapped Anissa and Jennifer. Right out of their school. The only reason I can come up with for him doing that was he was “disrespected” so he felt he needed to react violently and put them in their place. I have no idea why he took them to Lala other than he intended to make good on forcing Jennifer – and now Anissa – into prostitution. All because they told him to take a hike…

…the fragility of this man.

Another thing this episode needs to be commended for is that it truly established the 100 as a legitimate threat and made the stakes feel real and immediate. Not just for Jefferson/Black Lightning, but for their entire community. And it did it in a way that no other DC/CW show has. Sure, the other shows have villains that could destroy the city or the world or the multiverse, but the villain and the threat he poses is always fantastical. This is so grounded and real. This kind of “villain”, this kind of danger actually exists and that makes the villain far more terrifying than Reverse Flash, Ra’s Al Ghul and Vandal Savage and the threat he poses that much more deeply felt. I hope that he doesn’t become a metahuman with super powers.

I really don’t want Jefferson to go back to being Black Lightning. Just because I want him to get what he wants. Which, is to get back with Lynn and to continue doing the work he is with his school. If the whole thing with Will, Anissa and Jennifer hadn’t happened, I don’t think he would have. Although, given the state of his community, they really did need him to come back.

It was awesome seeing him don the suit and charge into the motel, beating up baddies as he went to go and save his daughters. It was so satisfying to see him hurt Will. In fact, it’s satisfying to see anyone hurt Will and I was really hoping Lala would kill him. Maybe he will. Because of Will’s fragility, he was dragged to see Tobias Whale and shot with a harpoon and now he has to start a war with Black Lightning. This whole mess is Will’s fault.

Random thoughts:

  1. In under three minutes we got two quotes from and a reference to prominent Black historical figures. This show really wants you to know it’s Black.
  2. Not every Black superhero show/movie needs a hip-hop soundtrack. This is quickly becoming a tired old trope.
  3. YAAS! A sista with short natural hair.
  4. Thank you Jennifer for kicking Will in the nuts.
  5. Did this policeman just tell him to get his “black ass” on the ground?
  6. Alfred?
  7. A song that isn’t hip-hop.
  8. Jefferson clearly went to the Clark Kent School of Disguises.

Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9PM on The CW.

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About The Author

An avid reader who accidentally discovered her love and talent for writing and has loved movies for as long as she has been watching them. Stumbled into film-making and found her second love because she decided to read for a degree in it on a whim - kind of.