To be or not to be Black Lightning? That is the question.
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) started this week’s Black Lightning episode off in an internal battle – and we don’t just mean from his powers. Freeland’s “Black Jesus” was struggling with stepping back into his super-suit full time or having his family back together. After the events of last week, the One Hundred gang has not slowed down on business. LaLa (William Catlett) is still sex trafficking girls from the community at the Seahorse Motel. One student’s mother, LaWanda (Tracey Bonner) wants Jefferson to go get her daughter but Jefferson doesn’t think he can get her out so easily. Jefferson takes it to the inspector but he can only follow protocol. If they arrest anybody involved, the girls won’t talk and the men have people to back up their alibis.
After LaLa sends one of his younger followers to scare Jennifer (China Anne McClain) into keeping her mouth shut, Jefferson warns him to stay away from his family. He’s trying to keep the deal: If LaLa stays away from his school, then he’ll leave his gang business alone. Gambi is still eager for him to take down the source of all of the gang violence – Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III). After being advised not to post herself up outside the Seahorse and confront LaLa, LaWanda still goes with her first instinct. Jefferson doesn’t make any moves until he learns of LaWanda’s death. Jefferson makes a quick decision – the bubble he has been living in has finally burst and he decides that he can no longer sit idle while the people in his community get killed.
With a lead-in from Black Lightning, LaLa is arrested. It doesn’t end so simply for him though. Tobias heard that he killed someone’s mother and he is not happy. “You shot somebody’s mama? Any man that’ll do that has no morals.” With his connections in the police department, Tobias kills him right inside the jail cell.
We were introduced to Anissa’s (Nafessa Williams) girlfriend this week. It was nice to see more of her personal life outside of work and activism. She’s been dating her current girlfriend for a year and they haven’t even met each other’s families. However, she does try to confide in her about breaking the sink. Her girlfriend just throws it off as her needing therapy and the look on Anissa’s face suggests that she can’t leave it alone that easily. We love seeing Anissa’s character development. This week’s episode had a lot of interesting talking points and brought up a lot of questions we need answered. So let’s get into the juicy details.
Here to discuss this heavy-hitting episode is our lovely Black Lightning roundtable:
Caitlin (@wlwcaitlin) – Writer and fictional lady enthusiast
Brianna (@notevenloaded) – Iris West/Candice Patton enthusiast and MCU apologist.
Laya (@QueerAnissa) – singer, activist, lover of all things gay
Raych (@candicespattons) – lover of iris west and black female characters. tv enthusiast
Nicollz (@mspurple360) – Candice & Zendaya Stan and Westallen Enthusiast
1. LaWanda’s daughter was in the sex trafficking ring at the Seahorse Motel. How do you feel about the way the show tackled sex trafficking and how manipulation of the girls in it works?
Caitlin (@wlwcaitlin): The show certainly explored the complexity of the issue, including why the police refused to get involved when they should have. It’s not an easy topic to talk about, but like everything else, it seems Black Lightning is trying to be as thorough as possible.
Brianna (@notevenloaded): I think it was handled really well, and I think the actress playing LaWanda did an incredible job. I could feel the pain she was going through every time she spoke.
Laya (@QueerAnissa): I think sex trafficking is a hard topic to really speak out on and I didn’t have any problems with the way they showed that storyline. It’s great to watch a show and also get educated.
Raych (@candicespattons): I really liked how they handled it because it’s such an important issue, especially in the black community and I think it is important to touch on these issues to get a discussion going. So yeah, I’m really happy with how they handled it.
Nicollz (@mspurple360): I appreciate again that this show is bringing light to important issues happening in communities and all over the world. They were careful with the delivery and provided a voice of real-life pain and struggle that surrounds these situations.
2. Jennifer has a new boyfriend that seems to have her best interest at heart. Do you think Jennifer’s behaviors will start to change for the better with this new influence closer?
Caitlin: I’m not sure anyone’s going to be able to change Jennifer except Jennifer. She’s still a teenager after all, and I think she’s going to have to continue making mistakes before she learns the right way. I’m sure her gaining her powers will have a big impact on her and maybe give her a sense of responsibility. She and Khalil are super cute though!
Brianna: I loooove them, they’re adorable and I think his influence will help rather than hurt.
Laya: No. I love Jennifer but she’s the classic rebel bad kid. But she will grow out of it sooner hopefully, rather than later.
Raych: Yeah, I definitely think that her behavior will change, but it’s going to be a process and kind of a struggle for her. But her new boyfriend is really good for her, so I’m really excited to see her journey and her behaviors changing. I’m curious to see how her eventual powers will affect her behavior and this relationship.
Nicollz: I’m hopeful that Khalil will be a positive influence on her – she just went through an ordeal that was traumatic, to say the least, and is looking for an outlet for those feelings. She’s also a teen still on her own personal journey of finding her way, so usually, the wrong path is the one people turn to in the process of getting through these rough patches. He seems to mean well so I hope he sticks around.
3. At the end of the episode, Anissa’s powers seemed to surface again. After seeing the two instances, what do you think triggers Anissa’s powers?
Caitlin: It seems that fear and/or stress may be at least one of Anissa’s triggers. Obviously, she was scared when the store was being robbed, and in the first episode, she was dealing with the residual stress of being kidnapped.
Brianna: To me, it looked like a panic attack. A mix of fear and frustration maybe? I’m not sure but that scene was amazing, that cashier would’ve been me except with more tears.
Laya: Honestly, I don’t even know. I’d say anger or stressful situations? It’ll definitely be cool to see what it actually is triggering her powers.
Raych: Her fear and anxiety definitely.
Nicollz: I think fear could possibly be a trigger or her need to protect others that may be in a difficult situation.
4. Gambi is extremely determined to get Jefferson back to being Black Lightning. Do you think he has ulterior motives for wanting Black Lightning back?
Caitlin: I’m not too sure! Gambi’s a bit of a mystery at the moment unless there’s something major I’ve missed. It seems he does have some sort of ulterior motive, but we’re not sure what that is yet.
Brianna: I really really really [insert several more really(s) here] hope not.
Laya: Ohhh, I never even thought about this! I don’t think so but it would be an amazing plot twist if he was hiding something.
Raych: Nah! I feel like he just cares about the city and Jefferson’s best interest at heart.
Nicollz: It’s possible. I think it may be too early on to decide for sure, but I’ve seen enough to know that I’m always gonna stay cautious of everyone around them and keep my guard up.
5. LaWanda was determined to get her daughter out of the One Hundred gang’s possession. What are your thoughts on the way LaWanda went about getting her daughter back?
Caitlin: It’s pretty clear that LaWanda was just a desperate mother trying to get her daughter back. While it would’ve been best for her to wait for Jefferson’s help, I can’t blame her for wanting to pull out all the stops to rescue her daughter. It’s also easy to sympathize with the fact that she didn’t trust the police to get the job done themselves.
Brianna: I wish she would’ve listened to Jefferson because I am heartbroken about how that situation turned out. The only thing she wanted was her daughter to be safe and she was willing to risk her life for it but she shouldn’t have had to.
Laya: How much can you really say when it comes to someone protecting their child? It’s a tricky topic.
Raych: I would’ve definitely gone about it differently but she’s also a mother and her child was kidnapped. I think she would’ve reacted how any mother who just wanted their child back would’ve. I just wish Jefferson could’ve saved her.
Nicollz: She really loved her child and would do anything to save her. That’s the strength of a mother’s love, that’s all she had left, so I understand her desperation and feeling like you’re alone. Especially with the law enforcement not really being of any assistance. I just hate it had to end the way it did for her.
6. Jefferson and Lynn were closer to reconciliation than ever. She says him using his powers is an addiction. What do you think Lynn means by his powers being an addiction?
Caitlin: A proper reconciliation this quickly did seem a little too good to be true. It’s pretty clear that Jefferson prioritized being Black Lightning over his relationship with Lynn the last time, which is generally what any addict does. It seems they’ll have to find a good balance if they ever want to get back to the way things were.
Brianna: I kinda took it in a bit of a literal sense? Being a superhero, there’s gotta be this high that you get when you save lives. With that high comes the crash and then the lows, so I think Lynn is afraid to see that come out again.
Laya: I mean it’s got to be a rush. When Black Lighting puts on that suit and he gets out there and fights crime he’s got to be feeling an amazing rush, something so much better than drugs.
Raych: I don’t know if I would consider it an addiction, but I think she means he has a dire need to save people and save them. He sees his powers as the only way to do that, but he doesn’t realize he’s hurting himself and his family in the process if that makes any sense. And that he needs to find a safer way to help.
Nicollz: I guess before when he first got the powers it got to a point where he used them and it became like a drug to him in a sense. The need for seeing justice became too deep and he couldn’t bring himself to stop – like an addiction, it became a necessary thing that constantly needed to be fueled.
7. Tobias walked right into the police station and had access to the cells without question. Do you think the reason his gang is so prominent in the town is because of the people of authority on his side?
Caitlin: The cops were already sketchy, so it’s really no surprise that at least some of them are in leagues with Tobias (or he just has spies on the inside). While it’s yet another thing Jefferson has to worry about, but I can see Henderson being helpful with that particular problem.
Brianna: He definitely has his hands in the pockets of people with authority. A mutual of mine and Twitter said they thought Henderson was on Tobias’ payroll at the beginning of the episode, so it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ll be sad about it though considering he positions himself as an ally.
Laya: Definitely! If you give crime a free pass then there isn’t anything they can’t take over
Raych: Yeah definitely.
Nicollz: I really do believe they have people on the inside, which also explains why the police department was so hesitant about getting the girls out. Tobias must have something over them. It will be interesting to see it all unravel as the season goes on.
A gang leader is gone but the fight is still not over.
Episode two of Black Lightning delivered again! They held up in discussing serious issues and keeping the dialogue on par with its audience. The use of Martin Luther King Jr. quotes were nicely placed and showed just how these quotes can mean different things to each person. Although his speeches and impact live on, he was still gunned down – as one of the school’s parents pointed out. Kudos to Charles Holland and Salim Akil for the writing which continues to be amazing.
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Christine Adams continues to bring in some of the best work on this show. Lynn Pierce wants her family back together just as much as Jefferson, but she is not willing to watch him kill himself over his powers. The angst between her and Jefferson is beautifully done and you can see the struggle from both sides. Williams and Adams are the perfect matches for these roles. However, her scenes are still only limited to those with Jefferson. Although we can clearly see that she is a woman of authority, it would be lovely for us to finally see her have a one on one scene with one of the daughters.
From LaLa killing his family to him getting choked by Tobias, the killings were brutal. One that was particularly hard to watch was LaWanda’s. No one can really know how they would react in that situation, but the choice of having her walk up to a known dangerous gang leader in that way was interesting. If she put the camera in the window, why then would she need to take a huge camera out and shove it into his face? That scene could have gone down better, but it got the point across and resulted in LaLa being terminated for good.
We’re still very much loving this show and the way they’re handling these tough issues. Next week, Jefferson tries to determine if the city can survive without Black Lightning, while he and Lynn try to figure out their new dynamic. Anissa begins to explore some things and Jennifer has a secret to tell. We’re already excited to see what these characters have in store for us!