Black Lightning 2.01: The Book of Consequences: Chapter One: The Rise of the Green Light Babies
The first season of Black Lightning showed audiences that this was not your typical superhero TV show like Arrow and The Flash. Instead, it would tackle sensitive social issues such as racial abuse, gang violence and police brutality, while telling the story of a black superhero with lightning powers. It didn’t quite resonate with me as it may have for many others; I found it was riddled with both character and story inconsistences and failed to capitalise on a strong villain. However there was also plenty to enjoy; it had many great things to take away from it, but it needed improvement.
Season two appears to be starting off on the same foot, opening with scenes of police violence and civil unrest among the community of Freeland. It’s hard to see the entertainment value in something that hits so close to the gritty parts of the real world, but at the same time, good on them for showing it. The story continues right where season one left off; the Greenlight drug is causing more issues, the children experimented on by the government are still in pods, and the Pierce family are tackling their own issues of understanding and controlling their powers.
The chemistry between Jefferson (Cress Williams) and his wife Lynn (Christine Adams) is superb, although the same cannot be said for their clichéd dialogue consisting of consequences and their daughter’s well-being. This dynamic already feels old and isn’t showing a great deal of character growth. On the flip side, what does show growth is Lynn bringing up the psychological implications of murdering people last season; this isn’t often tackled, and although not heavily concentrated on, was still excellent to have.
Anissa (Nafessa Williams) once again provides the sass and a different approach to situations, whether you agree with it or not. Her story arc in this episode is interesting; by using her powers to steal money from drug dealers to give to the church legal fund, she is the embodiment of what some people wish they could do, while at the same time bringing up a moral and ethical conversation that really gets you thinking.
Jennifer (China Anne McClain) steals the spotlight in only a small amount of screen time, her ongoing struggle to discover who she is as a woman, while continuing to learn about her powers, was great. Not to mention the visual effects surrounding her were outstanding.
The overall narrative is where most of the issues lie. Firstly, it struggled to provide a clear understanding of where this season’s heading. There isn’t a clear arc; plenty of individual storylines, but as of yet nothing to sink your teeth into. Tonally it was very inconsistent; scenes appeared sloppily stitched together, each being significantly different than the other. The music once again was just as inconsistent as the tone; great music, but edited all over the place.
Once again, the villain takes a disappointing back seat. Tobias makes a brief cameo, which although fantastic, didn’t really add anything to the overall story. It’s a shame as last season proved that he is a layered character that has great potential, yet is boiled down to a cartoon style villain. Fingers crossed the future is far brighter.
It’s not all doom and gloom; there was still plenty to enjoy. The opening fight sequence between Tobias’ henchwoman Syonide and ASA agent Kara was well choreographed, well performed and added a dramatic shocking flare needed to grab your attention…shame it wasn’t capitalised on. Detective Henderson confronting Jefferson about being Black Lightning was refreshing, injecting some much needed logic into the story early on. The performances all round were excellent and the overall look and feel was very good, if a little unorganised.
As disjointed as the episode with the longest name may be, there’s plenty to keep your intrigue and curiosity levels high. It may not have had the tension, excitement or character development intended, but it’s shown enough promise to move forward. Continuing on the path of a character-led series is a smart move; if the editing can be as powerful as the writing then this season could be explosive.