Brief Thoughts On ‘Black Lightning’ Season 4, Episode 2
by Erik Amaya
The Pierce Family has a lot of healing to do.
Despite how difficult the current Black Lightning story arc is to watch, it is still compelling. And despite that story being set a year after the Markovian and ASA occupations of Freeland, it seems the main characters have done very little to process their trauma. Indeed, one had to wonder if “The Book of Reconstruction” is a more ironic title than we imagined.
Using the term in the first place — an allusion to the period after the American Civil War — suggests a certain lack of sincerity in trying to rebuild. This is already clear in the way Freeland is depicted: a perpetual warzone. But it also has a personal dimension as Jefferson (Cress Williams) continues to take body blows (and give them), Lynn (Christine Adams) replaces one addiction for another, Anissa (Nafessa Williams) looks again for an escape — if just an emotional one this time — and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) literally takes to the air for any sort of healing.
The Pierces are broken, perhaps more so than any superhero team we’ve seen on television to date. But what is interesting is to see these fractures emerge not just from the new trauma, but the cascading traumas of their lives. For Jefferson and Lynn, it is their already established inflexibility going into new extremes. For Anissa, it’s the way she always ran away from internal problems — either by partying or finding a cause to fight for. And though Jen seems outwardly happy to pull energy from the sky and heal herself, it is not a million miles away from the angry teenager who just wanted to be normal.
Although, it is interesting how little effort she puts into normal things like the SAT now.
As we said last week, starting the characters on an emotional low is a good idea, even if it makes these episodes tough viewing. We hope the trajectory starts to change next week with at least one person in the family recognizing they’re about to implode.
Meanwhile, we totally missed the Kobra reference last week. Now, it is clear Lady Eve’s (Jill Scott) connection to the Kobra Cult matters, even if just for the name, and that she is the other power in the latest struggle with Lala’s (William Catlett) reformed 100. In fact, we even forgot Lala took control while Tobias (Marvin “Krondon” James III) was locked up last season. But now that the positions of all three are clear — and that Tobias has nothing to do with the latest turf war — it will be interesting to see how things play out and if Anissa can really maintain the little peace she secured this week.
Or will it collapsing be the thing to finally bring Black Lightning back?
Then again, there is some appeal in never seeing Jefferson return to the suit. We’d definitely prefer the series end on a hopeful note, but it is possible to imagine all of the pressures on his back defeating him. . Turning the series into a superhero tragedy would be a bold move. Then again, this is the The CW and they might not be interested in such an idea. But from the two episodes we have so far, Jefferson falling completely is an option and one that could be powerful if done properly.
Black Lightning airs Mondays on The CW.