Typically, we cover each season of Black Lighting the same way we cover the rest of the Arrowverse shows — a look at the upcoming episode and a few thoughts about the most recent one to air. Oddly, though, The CW did not a run a promo for the second episode of its fourth and final season this week. As fans of the network’s YouTube page have noted, promotion around the series is odd this year. So, we’ll continue to discuss the program as in our irregular Brief Thoughts if no weekly promo is available.
Let’s take a look at “The Book of Reconstruction: Chapter One.”
The series wasted no time establishing its new status quo. Jefferson is still mourning Henderson and it seems to have destabilized every aspect of his life. He doesn’t get along with his daughters and his always rocky relationship with Lynn (Christine Adams) is, well, as “stable” as ever. And then to discover a year has passed since they saved Freeland from Markovia and exposed the ASA’s crimes, it is disheartening to see the Pierces so dysfunctional. We believe this is the point, though. As this will be the program’s last year, it makes sense to start at an emotional low point. That it is so well depicted is a credit to the Black Lightning production team and Williams himself, whose heartbroken Jefferson is legitimately tough to watch.
Although, we have to admit, his first bit of action this season was something of a thrill even if it brings all of the Freeland PD down on him.
The anger, though, is justified and I, personally, think it speaks to the toughest part of justice: what the victims do after its been “served.” In the case of Freeland, Tobias (Marvin “Krondon” James III) and Lala (William Catlett) are still carving up the city and using Greenlight to do it; the legacy of the ASA continue to cause trauma. Tobias is also trying to recast himself as a philanthropist and hero, which is absolutely unsettling and an example of how justice, being blind, can miss someone who desperately needs a reckoning. Like Jefferson himself, Freeland still needs to deal with a lifetime of injustice and that is not an easy thing to do.
It is tough to watch the episode and not think of the atmosphere in which it was written: protests, beatings, and public figures literally getting away with murder. Which, again, is why Black Lightning has one of the most potent metaphors on television. It can approach these topics with a comic book lens and get to the heart of the pain injustice causes. Whether or not Jefferson will be able to work through his pain and seek justice again remains to be seen. But, as we suggested above, a hopeful Freeland on the path to healing is the sort of place the show can go even from the trauma seen in this week’s episode.
Black Lightning airs Mondays on The CW.