Black Lightning: Episode 1 Review
Spoiler Free Review
This episode introduces us to Jefferson Pierce and his world. He has 2 daughters that are dealing with being young, black women in the world. There are gangs in the city that cause havoc that winds up impacting Jefferson and those closest to him. Definitely worth the time invested thus far.
Spoiler Filled Review and Thoughts
The story is being told to us from the perspective of his daughter when the episode opens. We mostly view the story this way, but she’s the beginning and end of the episode. We know that Black Lightning (BL for the rest of this review) has been missing for about 9 years now. It seems that part of his disappearance was due to being hunted for vigilantism.
The first time we meet his daughter Anissa, he is picking her up from jail. She was arrested for being a part of a protest against a gang called the 100.
On the way from the police station to a fundraiser, Jefferson gets pulled over and harassed by 2 police officers who also antagonize his daughters. There is a woman in the cruiser who they ask to positively ID Jefferson, which she cannot. The rage seems to trigger BL’s powers, but he mainly keeps it in check.
Throughout the episode, you get a sense of differences in BL’s daughters. Jennifer (the younger daughter) likes tech and partying, while Anissa (the older) prefers helping people and also finding her own brand of trouble by being a fighter for justice and equality in the community. Jennifer seems more prone to getting into trouble.
We also find out that he’s divorced and has custody of the children. As the episode progresses, we learn that Jefferson is divorced, but would like the opportunity to put his family back together.
When Jennifer sneaks out and goes to a party in a club, she gets into a situation with Will, a guy she just met. They get pulled into a room with a guy called Lala who is a gang member for the 100 gang. Jeff finds out where his daughter is and arrives just in time to see her get pulled into the room. He clearly gets mad when a bouncer pulls a gun on him and we get to see him lay waste to the gang members in the room. Meanwhile, Jennifer escapes and goes home to a confrontation with Anissa about where she’s been and what she’s been doing.
As Jeff leaves the club, he encounters 2 policemen who try to tase him, which does nothing. He stuns the police and destroys the car as he leaves. The fight at the club left him injured, so he goes to an old friend’s suit store. As his friend, Gambi, finds him on the floor, he patches Jeff back up and tries to convince him to be BL again and is the first time we hear the name Tobias Whale. When he leaves the shop, we can tell he’s having a bit of an identity crisis.
There are a couple of small flashbacks back to his younger days when he was married and the toll that BL put on not only Jeff and his body, but his relationships with his family. This helps put some things into perspective and gives insight to his divorce. At this point, he feels he can put his family back together.
After a confrontation with Will at the school where Jeff is the principal, Anissa teaches, and Jennifer attends, we find out that Jeff has a deal with gang members to keep them away from the school. We discover this when Jeff goes and meets with Lala, aka LaTavius, about Will coming to his school and harassing his daughters. Meanwhile, Will has gone back to the school and abducts both Jennifer and Anissa right out of class. This seems a bit odd to me, because there absolutely should have been school security there to take care of any intruder. After his friend, Inspector Henderson leaves to go find his girls, Jeff and his ex-wife Lynn share a brief moment as he turns to leave. She asks where he’s going and he responds “to get our girls back” in a way that allows BL’s demeanor to come out just a little bit.
He goes back to Gambi, who has been working on a new suit for him for quite a while it seems. The new suit is excellent compared to what we’ve seen in flashbacks. He leaves and goes to the hotel where his kids are and lights up this gang. This new suit seems to be bulletproof, which is nice.
This starts the biggest action scene of the show. It’s not as fast as other shows, but it’s ok. We have to consider that this is an older hero, but he compensates for his lack of speed with raw power. His fighting abilites are mixed with his powers very nicely making it fun to watch. As it unfolded, I wished that they would use more effects like that in the Flash. He rescues his girls while using his powers to mask his voice, sort of like Barry or Oliver do while they are suited up.
Earlier in the episode, there is an introduction to Tobias Whale and the fact that he thought that he killed BL. There is also an interaction with Lala at the end where Tobias tells Lala to handle the problem. He convinces him to do so by using a harpoon gun on Lala.
As the episode ends, Anissa wakes up in the middle of the night a bit traumatized by her experiences of the last 2 days. She goes into the bathroom and places her hands on the sink, which she breaks in two.
A couple of notes about the show in general:
I really liked how they used music in the show. Reminded me of Luke Cage a little bit at times
It’s cool to see Jeff use BL’s ferocity as a principal. It really sticks out when he does his best to protect the students from physical and social situations.
Leaving him as a principal at a school is such a good idea, since it shows off his ideals.
Will this kidnapping lead to the metal detectors mentioned earlier in the episode?
As a person of color, it was cool to see a cast of primarily black and brown people.
It’s also nice that as a person of color, I got to watch a show with a primarily black cast that didn’t get preachy about social issues. It’s ok to bring them up, but they shouldn’t weigh the show down. It was nice that those issues were blended in rather than being sticking points.
Comic Book Accuracy
This show as been pretty accurate to these characters thus far. There are some minor changes, like where he lives in the show is not in Metropolis, but I think that helps the show stand on it’s own a little bit. There are some major changes as well. The CW has said this doesn’t happen in our traditional Flarrowverse, but there is mention of other heroes on the news broadcast on the show. This creates an interesting problem, but one that should be addressed eventually.
Story – Gets us introduced to the characters, the villain, and teaches us more about the hero than most first episodes of shows ever do. 8/10
Visuals – Not a lot of effects are used outside of BL’s powers, but they generally look cool. When I first saw the costume in commercials, I thought it looked clunky, but in action, I think that looks good. 7/10
Action Sequences – While not as fast as other shows, he relies on his powers as a form as combat, which is cool to watch. This may change with Thunder and Lightning. 6/10
Comic Book Accuracy – Major story points are pulled almost directly from the source material. What other heroes exist on this Earth? 7/10
Twist Factor – Getting Thunder her powers in the first episode. Makes the show more about legacy than just BL and makes it move quickly. 8/10
Final Score – Looking forward to the next episode. 7/10