SERIES PREMIERE — Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a man wrestling with a secret. As the father of Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Ann McClain), and principal of a charter high school that also serves as a safe-haven for young people in a neighborhood in the grip of gang violence, he is a hero in his community. Nine years ago, Pierce was a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he used those powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning, but he left the Superhero days behind. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind him…or so he thought. Christine Adams, James Remar, Damon Gupton and Marvin Jones III also star.
Review: I’m worried about this show. I’m worried about this show because the pilot written and directed by Salim Akil demonstrated more emotional maturity than the other CW DCU shows put together. I don’t include Legends of Tomorrow for the purposes of this review. The crew of the Waverider intentionally occupies a unique, bat s**t crazy space within the CW superhero shows. I’m discussing Black Lightning relative to Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl.
It’s like Akil figured out how to translate Green Arrow/Green Lantern into contemporary live-action and make the show Arrow was supposed to be all along. It’s like he absorbed the beloved Martian storylines adapted so well for Supergirl, and he left behind the histrionic relationship angst. It’s like he sat through Barry Allen’s esoteric identity crises and remembered the wider world was being torn apart by the past, the present, and the future, too. It’s not that the other shows don’t meet viewers needs in their own different ways. It’s that, until Black Lightning, I had no sense that the CW really understood it’s teen and young adult demo or the adults in their lives.
I’m worried that the CW’s perceived understanding is all an illusion. I worry that they’ll kill Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) in some half-assed attempt at a coming of age in extremis storyline. I worry that Black Lightning will devolve into one more CW soap with masks and capes. I guess that I (a disabled, forty-something, white woman) have to find the faith the Pierce family clings to.
Written and directed by: Salim Akil
- Visual Effects9.0