Black Lightning 2x01 "The Book of Consequence, Chapter 1: Rise of the Green Light Babies" Review
Black Lightning is back and am I ever grateful. Although it was a relatively short wait between the finale of Season 1 and the premiere of Season 2, I’d grown accustomed to seeing some of my favorite CW characters every week and was a bit saddened by their absence. It’s a relief to see Black Lightning pick up pretty much exactly where we left off, this time exploring the repercussions of the events of last season’s finale.
Although I’m a huge fan of almost every DC show currently airing on The CW, Black Lightning has been and continues to be particularly evocative for me, perhaps because the reality the characters deal with isn’t really rooted in the fantastical (like The Flash — despite the presence of “metahumans” in Freeland) or the grimdark (like Arrow — even as they deal with very harsh aspects of life). We are watching these characters deal with real injustices and address the root cause and that’s revolutionary.
We open Season 2 with the citizens of Freeland confused and enraged as they learn that their children and friends (thought missing or dead for over 3 decades) have been alive all this time, kept in cryogenic freezing chambers as a part of a twisted experiment on those who have abilities. Lynn Stewart was responsible for discovering them and although the government seems invested in trying to take the Green Light Pod Kids away from her, Lynn isn’t going down without a fight. She’s trying to discover the families of these children and rehome them responsibly, while dealing with politics on the side. Green Light use is a rising problem and the police officers are no longer interested in talking down its users, instead shooting the teens who are high on the drug first and asking questions later.
We don’t get to spend a lot of time with Anissa in this episode (always a shame) but the time we do spend with her is well used. Having attended a meeting in the local church about the Green Light Pod Kids and learning how much money they’ll need to raise to sue the government for the opportunity to simply see their children ($500,000 dollars — an absurd amount considering these children were stolen from their parents in the first place). Amazingly, Jefferson is fine with putting his faith in a clearly broken system, probably because he is still focused on dealing with Tobias Whale, but Anissa sees this injustice for what it is and is determined to act.
She wisely chooses to leave the Thunder suit at home and pulls out the black hoodie and pants she used when she first discovered her powers to go play Robin Hood, shutting down a drug den and stealing their money. Anissa deposits the money at the church, during what appears to be bible study (and those attendees were quick on the trigger finger!) and the pastor sees this as an answered prayer. No individuals understand that change in situations like these needs to be socially motivated and carried through legally but also requires financial resources. Jefferson’s point that change must come from inside the system is heard, but Anissa isn’t going to wait for the legal system to work in her favor, she’s going to affect her own change now.
The system continues to prove that it is flawed as we move over to Garfield High to find that the board has voted, and Jefferson is being removed from his position as principal. It’s clear that they need someone to blame for the rise in crime and violence at Garfield recently and Jefferson is going to be that person; the only other option is for Garfield High to be closed and we all know Jefferson would never allow that to happen. It’s such a hard moment to watch, but it once again positions Jefferson as both a superhero and an everyday hero and it couldn’t have come at a better time in Jefferson’s personal life.
Jennifer’s powers are being increasingly more volatile, creating an issue for her friends and family. Every time she is emotionally overset (as she becomes when discussing Khalil or listening to her friend disparage other meta humans) her powers seem to burst out of her, endangering those around her, which became increasingly obvious when she accidentally harms Lynn in a moment of anger. Later, she winds up trapped in her bathroom, encased in an energy field. It’s a good thing that, while Jennifer is a living generator, Jefferson can absorb energy. A good hug from her dad is all it takes to set Jennifer to rights again, at least temporarily, but she’s going to have to start working on finding a more permanent way to control her powers.
I especially enjoyed the episode ending with the reveal that Inspector Henderson has finally figured out who Black Lightning is and, by default, Thunder. I’m surprised that it took him this long to figure it out, but once he pieces together the places that Black Lightning appears and the people who he chooses to save it’s a no-brainer for him. It must come as a blow to realize that his best friend is the vigilante that he’s been hunting all this time. I’m very interested in seeing what this reveal does for their relationship.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.