'Black Lightning' season 2 episode 1 review: Jefferson caught between Anissa's recklessness and Tobias' rage
‘Black Lightning’ returned with the season 2 premiere titled 'The Book of Consequences: Chapter One: Rise of the Green Light Babies' on Tuesday, October 10. The new season continues to build on the groundwork that season 1 laid, especially in terms of representing the black communities of the country and their day-to-day problems. The very title of the episode is a clear indication of this, with “Green Light Babies” referencing the commonly used "Crack baby," which was coined in black neighborhoods during the 1980s and 1990s, to describe children who were exposed to crack (freebase cocaine in smokable form) as fetuses.
In one of the most memorable scenes from the premiere, Issa Williams, one of the ‘Green Light’ babies whose metahuman powers get exposed, gets swarmed by police officers, who put him in a chokehold and kills him. The crowd gathered can do nothing but remains helpless bystanders. The scene is eerily similar to the lynching of Eric Garner, who was killed at the hands of New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Ultimately, the problems of Black Lightning (Cress Williams) continue to be the same as the last season, saving his community, keeping the children off the streets and away from the drugs. The institutional racism, the government’s disdain for the people of poor communities and rampant gang violence that kills innocents daily, is still the basis of what makes Black Lightning a hero that we need today - oftentimes outside of the screen.
What has changed, however, is that his entire family is with him in his fight – some reluctantly so, and others much too enthusiastically, to his chagrin. Ever since Anissa (Nafessa Williams) got her powers, she has been pushing her luck and limits to end social injustice in Freeland.
A warrior in her own right, her identity as Thunder not only made Anissa more determined than ever before to fight for her people, but it also made her a little reckless. Throughout the first season, we saw her grappling with this, but this season, she seems to be getting even bolder. We will surely see her find a balance between being a hero and being a daughter and sister.
However, until then it is going to be quite stressful to watch her do things that we are sure her dad Jefferson would not approve of. In one of the more shocking moments from the episode, we saw her rob criminals so that she could gather enough money to arrange for families with loved ones in the Green Light pods to pay for legal representation. There is no way Jefferson is going to take kindly to her actions, and it looks like she is nowhere near done putting herself in danger and making questionable choices to help others.
Meanwhile, her younger sister Jennifer (China Anne McClain) is still in denial about her powers and wants nothing to do with them. She wants to be “normal,” especially in the wake of her former boyfriend Khalil’s (Jordan Calloway) transformation into metahuman monster Painkiller. Moreover, unlike her father who harnesses and manipulates electricity and sister who manipulates density, Jennifer is not necessarily in control of her energy generation powers.
She will have her own journey of finding her rightful place in the crimefighting family and we can hardly wait to see how that pans out. A one-on-one showdown between Jennifer and Painkiller is definitely in the books – at least we hope it is.
Jennifer is not the only in the Pierce family who did not care much for the superpowers. Lynn (Christine Adams) too was forced into this life and for a long time resisted it. She even left her husband because she could not handle watching the man she loves, put himself in danger over and over again.
However, towards the end of season 1 she realized that Black Lightning is much bigger than her or even Jefferson Pierce; he is a beacon of hope for a community that has lost so much. Black Lightning and Thunder together can actually make a difference, and she has finally decided to use her talents to help the duo in their missions.
She refuses to just be the wife of the superhero or even mother of the superhero anymore and is working on the pods and using her special skills as a neuroscientist to help the team. She refuses to take no for an answer and we love her all the more for it. Three cheers for this strong female hero with no supernatural powers!
Jefferson is definitely going to need all the support he can get, having had to step down as the principal, a job he took immense pride in. To top this off, he had to come clean about his superhero identity to his best friend Bill Henderson (Damon Gupton). This truth has clearly left a rift in their friendship, which is definitely going to take a long time to heal, if at all.
If the season 2 premiere is anything to go by, Jefferson is going to have to go through the grind before seeing any real win. Beyond all this, the real danger is looming just around the corner with the entire Pierce clan, complete with Uncle Gambi (James Remar), working together to become a wholesome crimefighting family.
Tobias (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III) is more powerful than ever before, having not only taken Lady Eve’s place in the 100, but now has nothing to lose. After he lost his trusted henchwoman Syonide (Charlbi Dean), Tobias claimed that she was the last thing in this world that he cared for. We recently learned that Syonide was a surrogate daughter to Tobias, having rescued her from a dumpster as a baby. Now that she is gone, his evil truly has no bounds.
It remains to be seen if her death will make him more focused or more reckless. Either way, it's bad news for Jefferson. He was dangerous enough as it is. Now, with nothing to lose? Who knows what limits he is willing to cross?
Only time will tell. Don’t forget to watch the story unfold on ‘Black Lightning’ when it airs at 9 | 8 c on Tuesday, October 16, on The CW, following which it will be added to The CW App.