This article contains spoilers for the Black Lightning series premiere – The Resurrection.
Tonight the CW unveiled their new series, Black Lightning. I’ve heard some people saying that there are too many superhero shows on the air, this show is proof that their wrong. The idea comes from the misconception that superheroes are a genre. And while Black Lightning could exist in the Arrowverse, it is very different from Arrow, Flash, Supergirl or even any of the Marvel shows. This is a show about race, culture and community. About someone trying to make a difference anyway he can. It’s also the strongest pilot I’ve seen on the CW, period.
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a principal on his way to a fund raiser but has to stop and pick up his eldest daughter, Anissa (Nafessa Williams), from jail after she’d been arrested as part of a protest against the local gang, The 100. On their way to the school, Pierce is pulled over for being black. A liquor store got robbed, the suspect was African-American and the cops pulled him over even though he was wearing a suit and driving a station wagon with his two daughters. The treat him like a criminal and then just let him go when the woman says it wasn’t him. Pierce’s anger triggers his long dormant electrical powers for a brief moment, then he gets control again.
At the fund raiser we get a better idea of who Pierce is, Olympic athlete return to make his community a better place. His youngest daughter, Jennifer (China Ann McClain) sneaks off to a club where she gets tied up with a gang member and in deep trouble. Pierce arrives, trying to handle it peacefully, he’s confronted by a guard who pulls a gun. Already on edge, Pierce lets the lightning out and takes out most of the gang, allowing his daughter to escape without her seeing him. On his way out, he is confronted by two police officers who try to taser him. He sends electricity back trough the lines, knocking out the cops then blowing up their car. We see that things are very different in the city of Freeland. Pierce was wounded in the fight and goes to his old friend Peter Gambi (James Remar) and we get the run down on how Pierce had been Black Lightning until his wife gave him an ultimatum, which he failed and she left. She couldn’t watch him keep getting hurt. He gave up being Black Lightning for nine years. Gambi patches him up and tries to get him to return to the costume, but Pierce says no.
This would probably be the end of it, except the gang member, Will (Dabier) comes looking for Jennifer at school and Anissa and then Pierce chase him off. Pierce then goes to talk to Will’s boss, Lala (William Catlett) a former student now gang boss. We see that Lala is not a very nice guy. While Pierce is away, Will goes into the school and kidnaps Anissa and Jennifer, taking them to Lala’s hotel/brothel. Pierce tells his ex-wife, Lynn (Christine Adams), that he’s going to get there girls and she approves. He goes to Gambi, how has built an improved suit for Black Lightning, and we see Pierce suit up for the first time. He drops in on the 100 at the hotel, easily working his way through the gang until he finds Will and his daughters. He tries to find out where Lala is, but Will won’t tell him. So her throws the kid into the roof of his car.
The girls are home safe. Pierce tells Lynn that it’s not over yet, knowing he’ll have to deal with Lala. Meanwhile Lala is taking to see his boss and we meet Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III), Black Lightning’s old nemesis and the man who killed Pierce’s father. Oh, and Anissa goes in the bathroom and ends up breaking the sink with her own superpowers she didn’t know she had.
The series, based on the comic character created by Trevor Von Eeden and Tony Isabella, was put together by Salim Akil, Mara Brock Akil, Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schecter. The pilot was written and directed by Salim Akil. One of the big questions has to be the connection to the Arrowverse, and while we’ve been told that it’s not connected, it’s being promoted like it is and they did a few things to suggest it might be. The city was changed to Freeland, a made up city name like the rest of the Arrowverse, and there is Roland S. Martin, a real world political commentator appearing on the television talking about how other cities have costumed crime fighters and they’re called heroes, but because Freeland’s is African-American, he is called a vigilante and is hunted. If the show does well, and it’s off to a good start, then it will likely cross into the Arrowverse in similar ways to Supergirl. But time will tell.
Next week, the community reacts to the return of Black Lightning.