Black Lightning‘s back with season 2 and oh boy, was the season premiere a stressful one, dealing with the spectacularly disastrous consequences of the first season, with Jefferson being taken to task by the school board for disappearing after Tobias Whale’s attack on Garfield High. Freeland as a whole was dealing with the revelation of what happened to the titular children who disappeared, as well as those who now have to deal with the police instead of the ASA.
1. Pulling No Punches
Right after the title card, we were already seeing phone-style footage of police choking a black kid to death, and the show did not let up from there. After a fiery sermon from Reverend Holt, we then reunite with Jefferson at a disciplinary meeting with the school board, who raise the issue of him not doing enough to protect the students. Jefferson points out they have money for metal detectors or armed guards, but apparently none for textbooks or computers, which feels a pertinent criticism of many politician’s messed up priorities who defend the right to bear arms over children’s lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Finally, the revelation that the government is keeping the children the ASA empowered in cryogenic suspension feels very applicable to the situation of children in custody in the States right now. Anissa and her parents’ reactions feel very in-tune to the current divide we see among older and younger citizens: Anissa gets fired up and wants to act by any means necessary to help fund the families’ lawsuits, while Jefferson feels he’s done all he can, and that it’s up to the system to facilitate justice, as hard as it may be to believe. Lynn herself acts within the system by having Gambi pulls strings so she can supervise the “pod people” directly, which must be an emotionally difficult task.
2. End of Days
The show doesn’t shy away from the apprehension the people of Freeland must feel about the superpowers their children are gaining: in a distressing scene, Issa, the boy murdered at the start, comes back to life when the authorities come to claim his body, and his mother freaks out, presumably believing her resurrected boy must be some kind of impostor. Similarly, Jennifer’s friend Kiesha expresses fear and disgust at these new metahumans, describing it as the end of days: it was interesting to detect that whiff of religious fundamentalism there, given how religion is otherwise a source of strength and community on the show.
3. Performance Issues
Things get more stressful this week for Jefferson when Inspector Henderson reveals he’s figured out his secret identity, and he is none too pleased about being lied to this whole time. By the halfway point of this episode, I’m as emotionally exhausted as Jefferson, so thankfully Lynn lightens it up by coyly suggesting he could relieve his stress, if only superpowers didn’t cause erectile dysfunction. Offended, Jefferson decides to prove he has no such problem: you gotta hand it to Lynn, she knows how to get what she wants.
4. Emotional Support
Just as Jefferson needed his partner to remind him he’s loved, ultimately, it was quite moving to realize at the end that all Jennifer needed to cope with the stress of her growing powers was a hug from her father. Granted, he’s really siphoning her overloaded energy, but it was symbolically sweet, given how her overbearing mother and sister, and her thoughtless friend had been no help during the episode. I thought it was great finally seeing the show’s take on her comic book counterpart’s look, which seemed really difficult to translate practically.
5. What’s in the Briefcase?
Let’s talk about Kara, the ASA’s undercover agent at Garfield High (which Jefferson only found about this week, compounding his sense of failure). She’s trying to leave Freeland until she gets accosted by Syonide, who she manages to kill with her stiletto. Later, after allying with Gambi, she instead decides to infiltrate Whale’s office and retrieve the briefcase he got from the ASA. I was expecting Syonide to show up, given she has carbon fiber skin, but no, apparently she really is dead, and Whale is pissed. After a tense and painful fight, a wounded Kara jumps out of the window – I guess her story’s not over yet then. (And no, we still don’t know what’s in the briefcase.)Continued below
– By the way, Kara and Syonide’s fight really brought to mind blaxploitation films due to the music and their ’70s style clothing.
– I wasn’t going to pass comment on these long episode titles again, but since the show has now introduced title cards, I can only say: well played.
– Bill Duke guest stars as Lynn’s ASA interviewer, and he is really frail looking now, which does add to his character’s creepy vibe (you imagine he was approached though because of how imposing he used to seem).
– Anissa’s purple kinetic energy waves are new, and have more than a whiff of you-know-who.