Black Lightning 1.2 Recap: Jefferson Struggles With Returning To The Role For Good

by Gary Catig

Jefferson is recuperating from his assault on the Seahorse Motel. It seems using his powers has repercussions, as we see electricity flowing through his body, causing severe discomfort.  Hearing her ex-husband’s suffering, Lynn comes to his aid. He assures her that last night was just a one-off and his superhero alter ego isn’t back. They reminisce on the early days of Black Lightning and even share a kiss.
[*Spoilers for Episode 1.2 Ahead!]

The next day, Garfield High’s principal addresses concerned parents about the uptick of gang violence in the community and the kidnapping at the school. He learns that he only temporarily shut down Lala’s operation with his attack, as the Motel is back and running. Also, he feels a little bit guilty when the audience asks why his daughters were saved, while other people’s children are still held captive. One of his former students, LaWanda, is one such parent and asks for his help, but he declines. She decides to take matters into her own hands and investigates Lala to find her daughter.
Jefferson can’t hide his frustration with the authorities when talking with his friend, Detective Henderson. Not only is the Seahorse Motel up and running again, they can’t arrest Lala since he has a credible alibi and they lost Will, the guy who kidnapped Jefferson’s daughters, while being transported to the hospital. He’s beginning to lose faith in the police to do their job.
In the meantime, Lala sends one of his corner boys to pay a visit to Jefferson’s home to scare his daughter. Under the guise of selling candy, the pre-gangbanger gets close enough to shoot Jennifer with a squirt gun filled with red dye. This irks Jefferson enough he pays Lala a visit to discuss the deal they made last week about how his family is off limits. To Lala, the deal was off ever since his daughters implicated him in their kidnapping. He threatens his former principal to stop him talking to the police. The gang leader is trying to tie up his loose ends by hopefully silencing the Pierce daughters through intimidation and later, murders Will to prevent him from snitching.
All the legal problems have Lala on edge. When he’s confronted by LaWanda outside the Seahorse Motel, he guns her down in cold blood. The death of another of his former students is too much for Jefferson to take. At the expense of his relationship to his wife for second time, he decides Black Lightning needs to come back for the sake of his community. Also, if Lala’s desperate enough to kill LaWanda, Jeff’s daughters could be next.

Peter Gambi, Jefferson’s right-hand man, is able to track down Lala, and relays the information to his colleague. With the only real action sequence of the episode, Black Lightning storms the gangster’s apartment, taking down all his men and finally getting his hands on Lala. As he progresses to beat his foe down, the cops barge in and break it up. Still considered a wanted vigilante, Jefferson makes a hasty exit and leaves the criminal to the police.

Seeing how unhinged his lieutenant is, big bad, Tobias Whale needs to take care of his own loose ends. He’s a man with deep connections as he rolls up to the police station and is personally accompanied to Lala’s jail cell by a cop. Fearing that his former underling might rat him out, Lala strangles him to death.
Meanwhile, Anissa is still coming to terms with her newly acquired super strength. At first, she thought it was some freak occurrence when she broke the sink last week. This episode, she is at a drug store when it is being held up and while the culprit is forcing her to the ground, her super strength returns and she is able to foil the robbery.
Although it was inevitable, it was interesting to watch the factors that push Jefferson in returning as Black Lightning. One common reason a person becomes a vigilante is a lack of confidence in the police, and the way in which the legal system hand cuffs the authorities from acting in an efficient manner.  When one steps outside the law, justice can be dealt much more swiftly.
A more intriguing issue could be the public perception of Black Lightning. As covered on the background news commentary and in the community meeting, was Black Lightning’s motivation selfishness? How come the Pierce girls are the only ones who Black Lightning initially saved while there were plenty more people in peril? People are unsure what to make of the superhero’s return.  If he is back for good and committed to cleaning up the city, they are more inclined to welcome him back. However, if it was a onetime personal vendetta, they would have preferred he never come back at all. He would only be bringing false hope and it would be a cruel tease for the people of Freedland.
Finally, they don’t hesitate killing characters on this show. This week we witnessed the demise of both Will and Lala.  Last week, I expressed that I looked forward to how Will’s storyline would turn out with Jefferson, since their stories were similar, but that came to an abrupt halt when he was murdered by his boss. I expected things wouldn’t turn out well for him, it just came a bit sooner than I expected. At least it means that Black Lightning will hopefully come into direct conflict with Tobias sooner.
Black Lightning airs Tuesday nights at 9:00 pm on the CW.

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