Hello friends and welcome to Season 2 of Black Lightning! Before we dive into the premiere, let me take a second to thank everyone at The TV Junkies for allowing me to recap Black Lightning for them this season! This show means the world to me and so many people, and it is spreading the important message of hope in a time when we need it the most. If you’ve read my Season 1 recaps, welcome back! If this is your first time on the Nic Express, buckle up because it’s about to get lit! (I’m sorry…I had to.)
Previously on Season 1 of Black Lightning, we learned that Jefferson Pierce became Black Lightning as a result of experiments forced on the people of Freeland by an organization called the ASA. This organization was also responsible for polluting the streets of Freeland with a drug called green light, thanks to the help of Tobias Whale, the man responsible for Jefferson’s father’s death. Not only does Jefferson have powers, but his daughters Jennifer and Anissa also began showing signs of superhuman abilities. Anissa embraced hers and became the superhero known as Thunder (A BULLETPROOF BLACK LESBIAN SUPERHERO BY THE WAY), while Jennifer did everything she could to ignore the burden placed on her and turned to her mother, Lynn to help her get rid of her powers. When we last left the Pierce family, they fought off and killed a metric forkton of ASA flunkies and their leader, Martin Proctor.
We start this episode with a brand new opening sequence and title card and wooo boy did I love the old school comic book feel of it. One of my favorite things about this show is how it manages to stay culturally relevant without sacrificing any story or plot. They proved this right off the bat, opening with a news broadcast (while some Bob Marley played) about the murder of a suspected “green light baby” by police. An unarmed Black teen being choked out for no reason other than just existing? CRAZY RIGHT?!
Cut to the church where Reverend Holt has recovered enough from his gunshot wounds to rally his congregation and warn them against the destructive nature of green light. You see, this drug has put the people of Freeland in danger. He tells them there are people walking around with dormant powers just waiting to burst out of them and police are using that as an excuse to hunt down Black men and women with a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality. What he doesn’t want his community to forget though, is that this was a problem long before green light infested their streets.
Meanwhile, Jefferson is being questioned by the school board about the attack at the hands of Khalil and Tobias Whale. It’s really a shame that Jefferson’s “I’ll do anything to protect the students of Garfield High” brand is so strong, because the board isn’t buying that the Pierce family just happened to be Out of Town in a remote location that happened to have zero cell service at the exact time the attack was taking place. The mouthpiece of the board (I’m going to call her “Red”) decides that until the students can get the mental health support they need and the board decides on disciplinary action for Jefferson, Garfield High would remain closed. During this scene, we also get a peek at Jeff’s buddy Napier Frank, played by the incredible Robert Townsend. More on him later.
There must have been a Two-for-One special on interrogations because Lynn is also being questioned, both on camera and by ASA Agent Odell (played by another amazing guest star, Bill Duke). Odell manages to convey this eerie calm intimidation while he tries to get information about the pods out of Lynn. Our girl is sticking to her story; when they got to the room, it contained only pods and zero people. Agent Odell isn’t having it and demands that Lynn stay in town, stay silent, oh and also she can no longer access the pods despite being the actual authority on what’s happening to those kids. Fork this guy!
FINALLY we get to see what the Pierce sisters are up to but oh no, Jennifer wakes up to Anissa looking at her with some mixture of fear and concern on her gorgeous face. She shows Jenn a video of her illuminated and floating…in her sleep. Jenn begs Anissa not to tell their mom but Anissa never learned that old adage about snitching because too late! Lynn already knows.
“THIS bench!” is what I yelled at my teevee when Kara Fowdy strolled on screen looking like a background dancer for the Donna Summer musical (no shade, that show was bomb), but by the end of this scene I stanned Fowdy SO hard. MurderBangs snuck up to Fowdy in a dark garage because I guess neither of them have ever seen a TV show, and the two fight to a very appropriate 70s themed soundtrack. Once they run out of bullets, they switch to hand-to-hand combat complete with matching tuck and rolls. Just when you thought this fight couldn’t get more badass, KARA MOTHERFORKING FOWDY TAKES OFF HER SHOES TO REVEAL KNIVES IN THE HEELS. This bench weaponized her shoes and if that’s not a “fork you” to the patriarchy, I don’t know what is. Kara throws a shoe at MurderBangs, finds her target in the form of MB’s jugular. Kara walks away after delivering the most relatable exit line: “Bench, you got my hair wet.” I’m not 100 per cent convinced MurderBangs is dead dead, but only time will tell.
Back at Casa Pierce, Jefferson and Lynn are in deep conversation about what to do about Jennifer and her powers because spoiler alert: none of this is normal for anyone except Jeff. Lynn suggests a therapist (is there one who specializes in people with powers??) while Jeff wants to train her. Before they update each other on their respective interrogations, Lynn reminds Jeff that there are Consequences to this entire situation.
Gambi finally has a customer!!! Oh wait, nope, false alarm. It’s just Kara Fowdy who has come to spill all the ASA tea. She tells Gambi that she knows he was a spotter for the ASA and that she knows where the briefcase is. Related to absolutely nothing, I’m really feeling Kara’s hair this season.
Jefferson is meeting with his friend (and board member) Napier Frank, and by “meeting” I mean having the literal truth read to him. Napier gets really real with Jefferson about what’s going on with the board. As the only Black man on the board, Napier finds himself needing to vouch for Jefferson’s “Black ass.” Jeff replies by referring to Napier as a “Blackspert” (stealing that because #relatable), forced to explain all things African-American to a board of white folks. Jefferson wants Napier to help sway the vote his way. To help save the school.
Anissa and Jeff are back at the church for a Pod Update, and listen I know this isn’t the point, but Anissa is looking DAMN good. Anyway, the people of Freeland need to raise upwards of $500K in order to help get the missing kids back because the government isn’t letting them see their kids. In typical Anissa form, she wants to help these people, but her father tries to explain the intricacies of how the justice system works. He wants to let the system do its work because in order for any permanent change to occur, it needs to be resolved within the system. Anissa is skeptical to say the least and argues that the system is weighed disproportionally against Black folks. Jefferson doesn’t back down and insists that they need to focus on taking down Tobias.
Back at the house, Jennifer and Lynn are embroiled in a mother/daughter fight for the ages. All Lynn wants to do is talk to her daughter, but Jenn is eye-rolling and silent treatment-ing all over the place. It looks just like every fight I’ve had with my mom, except this one is about superpowers. As Jennifer shouts off a list of things she needs to deal with, she accidentally burns her mother with her powers, and Lynn looks practically terrified of her child.
Lynn pleads with Jeff to see that their daughter has a disease and needs to get help. Despite both parents’ experiences and resources, they are not equipped to help Jennifer. I love the way this storyline is playing out because there are echoes of mental health conversations throughout it. Lynn recognizes that these powers are part of Jennifer and that she needs help learning to live and deal with them. The couple continue to fight about Lynn’s desire to research the pods. Jefferson is PISSED that she went behind his back to Gambi so she could get her access reinstated. But don’t worry, Lynn lets him have it and reminds him that not only does she not need his permission, but he has his head so far up his ass that he hasn’t even asked Lynn how it felt for her to kill someone. An emotion that so often gets taken for granted on other superhero shows.
At a house we’ve never seen before (a drug den?), Anissa (in an all-black disguise), takes down approximately 87 inhabitants, and leaves with all of their dolla dolla bills. It’s so exciting to see Anissa really coming into her powers!
We then see Black Lightning meet up with Henderson in a dark alley where Henderson reveals that he watches ALL of the CW’s superhero shows and will not be fooled by a disguise of literally just goggles. He’s figured out that Jefferson is Black Lightning and he is (to quote the show’s writers’ Twitter) “BIG mad.”
Lynn has returned to the house where Jeff is watching the news about another kid shot dead. No matter what, Lynn is going to help those kids. She then takes some jabs at Jefferson about Black Lightning’s version of erectile dysfunction and I won’t lie, it was nice to see Jefferson being light-hearted for once.
Down in the Lightning Lair, Gambi fills Jeff in on his meeting with Kara. They aren’t sure where Tobias is hiding, but they have people watching Khalil’s mom’s house because he’s more than likely going to be the wildcard.
And as if he could hear Gambi dragging his name through the mud, Khalil calls Jennifer while Keisha is braiding her hair. Jenn sends him to voicemail while her friend shit talks the “freaks” walking around with powers, completely oblivious to the fact her best friend is one of them.
Back at church, Reverend Holt is talking all about Consequences when Anissa walks in like a gorgeous lesbian Robin Hood and drops off the cash she stole.
Remember Issa Williams? The kid who was choked out by police in the cold open? Well he’s alive and jumps out of a body bag to the shock and surprise of his mother and sister. Upon seeing this, his mom says she was relieved when he died and wants nothing to do with him. She apologizes for saying this, leading me to believe she may not have been in complete control of her body? Issa runs for his life.
Jennifer and Keisha are back in her room when Keisha shows Jenn the video of Issa coming back to life. It’s too much for Jenn to bear so she locks herself in the bathroom and tells Keisha to go home. Lynn and Anissa don’t know what to do about Jenn so they send Jefferson into the bathroom where he finds Jennifer sitting in the tub, completely encased in a fire orb, but seemingly unhurt. Jefferson hugs his daughter tight, absorbs her flames, and lets Jenn know that she’s safe.
Napier is meeting with Jeff and tells him that the board officially voted to close Garfield permanently. Jeff agrees with what Napier told him earlier: this is about saving Garfield, not his job. So he volunteers to give the board what they want, and offers to step down as principal.
Meanwhile, we get a montage of Issa alone in an alley, Lynn back researching the pods, Anissa counting cash and feelings super proud of herself, Jennifer asleep and floating, and Kara Fowdy attempting to sneak up on Tobias in his lair where he’s mourning MurderBangs. Kara tries to charge Tobias and get the briefcase but she makes it two steps before he shoots a grappling hook into her stomach! Before Tobias can finish the job, Kara jumps out the window to her death?? The episode ends with Tobias yelling in frustration.
Whew! Talk about a premiere! Black Lightning came back with a vengeance, and I’m so excited to see what the rest of the season holds (hopefully a love interest for Anissa!). I especially love the tough conversations the show is embracing around Jennifer’s complicated feelings about her powers, as well as the real-world consequences of experimenting on Black communities, both of which should make for another great season to come!
What did you all think of this episode chock full of consequences? Will Anissa’s Robin Hood charade catch up with her? Are both Kara and MurderBangs actually dead? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Black Lighting airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on the CW and is available Wednesdays on Netflix in Canada.
Nic is a Digital Product Manager who lives in Queens, NY. She spends way too much time thinking about queer fictional characters, Tessa Thompson, and Janelle Monae. When she's not busy consuming every form of fiction, you can find her cosplaying as Valkyrie. You can find Nic on Twitter and Instagram.