Black Lightning premiered this week on The CW after one of my other favorite shows, The Flash. Despite my affinity for these shows, let me be clear, I’ve never read any of the comic books. But I already like Black lightning for being a superhero show for grown-ups. It already ties into real problems that viewers are familiar with, like drugs, corruption, and violence of all kinds.
When the show begins Black Lightning is no more. Jefferson Pierce, played by Cress Williams giving off some serious Idris Elba vibes, is the principal of a charter school and father of two. He’s picking up older daughter Anissa (Nafeesa Williams) after she gets arrested at a protest. She’s not protesting police violence, but police inaction as a local gang known as the One Hundred wreak havoc in the city of Freeland. Maybe Black Lightning could help but he’s been missing in action for nine years.
When his younger daughter Jennifer (China Anne McClain) gets involved with a gang member while out at a club, Jefferson follows and uses his lightning powers to take out the lights and the bad guys. When he leaves, however, he meets up with another ever-present threat to his well-being, the cops. They taser him. Bad idea.
Now everyone’s wondering, is black Lightning back? Jefferson is less than interested. For him, it’s a struggle without end and the only loser is him. The fact that the media labeled him a “vigilante,” never helped either. After he showed up broken and bloody one too many times, his wife, Lynn (Christine Adams) divorced him. He is where he is now because he put Black Lightning behind him. The audience can understand why he’s not in a hurry to be Black Lightning again.
Of course, that all changes when brazen members of the One Hundred kidnap his daughters in broad daylight from his own school. Jefferson shows up in a new Black Lightning suit, courtesy of Peter Gambi (James Remar) a wannabe Alfred. He takes on the gang, his suit capable of conducting electricity. It appears he can both throw lightning and also empower his punches and kicks, which is interesting and fun to watch. The hero returns and his daughters are safe.
In the closing minutes, we see Anissa manifest her own superpowers in the form of red-hot strength. Yes! Another superhero! And it’s a woman! I am down with this show and looking forward to seeing if Jennifer develops powers also.