Black Lightning is back. Thanks to a shorter episode count it’s felt like a much longer wait for the second season than the Arrowverse shows. Green Light Babies was an eventful premiere that proves Black Lightning has lost none of its spark.
The episode kicks off with green light babies being killed by police. The show isn’t stepping back from its ripped from the headlines subplots, is it? I’m torn on my thoughts on it as Black Lightning does a far better job of being socially relevant than the well-meaning, but fumbling Supergirl agenda episodes. And at the same time I wish it didn’t fall onto Black Lightning to be both socially conscious and a superhero show. That ear to reality approach makes the show feel more grounded than its peers, but I do enjoy the escape from the real world with my comic book shows.
Things haven’t gotten any easier for the Pierce family after the events of last season. Jefferson looks like he’s going to be the scapegoat for the mess at Garfield High. That one is pretty easy since someone’s head has to roll when gangs and super villains roll up in the hallways. But bonus! Jeff’s school board pal, Dr. Napier Frank, is played by Robert Townsend.
Frank warns Jeff his job is to save the school, not his job. Ultimately, Jeff decides keeping the school open is more important than his title. Hopefully he’ll just get demoted to teacher as the school segments were some of the first season’s best scenes.
Lynn has her own problems as Agent Percy Odell (Bill Duke!) is interrogating her about her connection to the green light children in the pods. This was the one weak spot in the episode and it also tied to Anissa’s subplot. Apparently the government is
detaining holding the children in the pods and they won’t free them unless they’re sued. Rev. Holt is in the middle of this and helping to raise funds for the families.
Anissa rightfully argues that Jeff needs to focus on freeing the children instead of worrying about Tobias. Unlike the rest of the Arrowverse shows, Black Lightning is sticking with the same big bad from last season. I’m not sure if that’s the best idea, but Tobias was a pretty solid villain who’s potential hadn’t been fully explored.
With Jeff refusing to budge, Anissa just decides to rob some hipster drug dealers for their cash. Maybe there’s some moral sticky ground here, but I’ve never seen a problem with heroes jacking bad guys to help others. It’s the old Robin Hood mentality.
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One of the biggest changes for this season is the retcon of Fowdy to a super skilled assassin. Show of hands for everyone who thought she was toast when Syonide brought out those swords. Who thought high heel daggers would be so effective? Fowdy tried to cut a deal with Gambi for help getting out of the ASA in exchange for the briefcase in Tobias’ possession. Then she went Splinter Cell to try and take Tobias out. Didn’t see that coming at all. Nor did I imagine she’d survive getting harpooned (not a euphemism) by Tobias.
The surprises kept coming as Henderson finally put all the pieces together and called out Jeff for being Black Lightning. This was the right call as Jeff had made too many careless decisions not to get outed by someone smart enough to put it together. This should make for an interesting change in their dynamic.
But the biggest and best development had to be Jennifer’s evolving powers. Black Lightning can tackle politics and superhero action, but it works best as a family drama. Jeff and Lynn clashed over how best to handle Jennifer — does she need therapy or training? And why is she floating in her sleep?
I like that no one is particularly right or wrong. It’s just a matter of how they approach it. Jennifer definitely needs some help as she accidentally zapped Lynn during an argument. This was a running theme last episode, but Christine Adams is an amazing actress and she was strong throughout.
Jennifer’s aura shell looked imposing, but Jeff was able to absorb it…for now. You get the sense that won’t always be the case as the season progresses though.
Green Light Babies was an impressive kickoff for Black Lightning’s sophomore season with no signs of a slump. With The Flash having a solid season opener maybe The CW’s Tuesday block will be the standout night for the network?