Black Lightning season 2 premieres on Tuesday, Oct. 9, with “Rise of the Green Light Babies.” Here are a few hints about the return of the CW’s best superhero show!
After an absolutely stellar first season, Black Lightning returns to our screens on Tuesday. While each episode in last season focused on a different book — “The Book of Resurrection,” “The Book of Redemption,” “The Book of Hope” — this season is structured in a slightly different way.
Rather than having each episode as a separate book, this season’s focus is on one book — The Book of Consequences — with each episode as a different chapter of that book.
It’s a natural and exciting transition for the show. Last season focused on familiarizing us with the backstory of the older generation of heroes — Jefferson Pierce, Lynn Stewart and Peter Gambi — while having us live through the origin stories of the newer generation, with Anissa and Jennifer. It showed us the relationships between these characters and, over the course of the season, strengthened already the already strong bonds between them.
And while Season 1 focused on building the Pierce-Stewart-Gambi team and saw them overcome internal and external challenges, season 2 — at least the first three episodes that have been released to media — is centered around dealing with the fallout and consequences of the events of season 1.
The official synopsis of Black Lightning “The Book of Consequences: Chapter One: Rise of the Green Light Babies” reads:
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) and his family may have survived Tobias’s (Marvin Jones III) attack, but they’re not out of the woods yet. Concerned for the safety of Garfield’s students, the board considers a motion to shut down the school, forcing Jefferson to go to Napier Frank (guest star Robert Townsend) to sway the vote. Jennifer (China Anne McClain) struggles with her powers and her actions have unforeseen repercussions. Meanwhile, Anissa (Nafessa Williams) finds a new way to give back to Freeland. Lastly, Lynn (Christine Adams) continues her quest much to the dismay of Agent Odell (guest star Bill Duke).
The season premiere gives us a brief check-in on our antagonists, mostly just enough to let us know that Tobias Whale is still deliciously villainous and Syonide is still creepy AF. It mainly keeps its focus on the main characters, letting us know how each of the members of the Pierce-Stewart family are doing in the wake of the events of last season’s finale.
So just how are they doing? Well, here’s a preview for each of the characters, arranged from “Doing amazing!” to “My whole life is a disaster.”
Anissa Pierce: The superhero who does it all
Anissa starts out the season pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. She spent about .8 seconds last season wondering what to do about her powers, then spent the rest of it kicking lots of ass using aforementioned powers.
This season, she somehow not only has time to go to med school, volunteer at Garfield High School and spend nights at Thunder — she picks up a moonlighting job to help out community members in a way that she can’t either as Thunder or Anissa Pierce. And while I’m sure her parents are bound to disagree once they find out what it is, I can’t say that I’m not on her side about this one.
Lynn Stewart: Doesn’t need powers to still kick ass
In every superhero team, you always have a few people who don’t have powers, but who contribute in other ways. Fortunately, on a scale of Xander (who is definitely a 1) to Batman (a 10), Lynn definitely ranks an 11.
She’s basically the greatest ex-wife (soon to be wife, again…maybe? hopefully?) and amazing mother, who is always supportive and loving without ever letting her strong-willed ex-husband or children walk over her. She is also an incredibly intelligent and competent doctor/geneticist who can patch up her bruised and battered husband while looking to isolate the meta-human gene in her daughter.
In this episode, we see her fighting to remain the lead researcher on the pod children, despite the government’s stringent efforts to kick her off the project. We also get to see her and Jefferson supporting one another and loving one another, even if they don’t see eye to eye.
I haven’t seen a long-term relationship this strong since Eric and Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights (which is the highest praise I can heap on a couple), and I’m so excited to see where Lynn and Jefferson go as the season progresses.
Jennifer Pierce: Didn’t sign up for this powers thing, still doesn’t want it
Maybe it’s because I work with teens myself, but I found Jennifer’s story last season to be the most evocative. Because while I think it’s admirable that Anissa jumped right into using them for the greater good, I think that Jennifer’s reaction is just as engaging and an equally realistic take on having superpowers.
Lynn’s statement last season that being a superhero means that “everyone else gets to have a happy ending but you” isn’t at all lost on Jennifer as she wrestles with the responsibility and, yes, burden that having superpowers can be and often is. In this episode, we see her continue that struggle as she sees the community at large and her own friends react to the “Green Light Babies.” We also find out that her quest to just ignore it in the hopes that it’ll go away or get better on its own is becoming all but impossible at this point.
Jefferson Pierce: The man who can’t have it all
Look, I love Jefferson Pierce, both as Principal Pierce and Black Lightning. But as a teacher myself, I have to admit that there were a lot of moments last season where I thought — damn, I’d be pretty pissed if my principal spent as much time away from the school as Jefferson does.
And it looks like I’m not the only one who thinks that. In this episode, Jefferson has to face the consequences of living a double life as a high school principal and a lightning wielding vigilante. Both of his jobs require a full-time commitment, and as his duties as Black Lightning have increased, his ability to balance his responsibilities as principal have decreased.
Obviously being a teacher myself makes me somewhat biased, but I have to say that the conversations between him and board member Napier Frank are some of my favorite scenes in the episode. We get to see two Black men discussing the intersections of race, education and what it means to put the kids first — all conversations we don’t often get to see on TV at all and especially not in a superhero show.
But that’s what Black Lightning does so well — have these honest, complex and complicated conversations about real world issues of race, gender, inequity and education (to list just a few) with a backdrop of comic book storylines and superpowered fight scenes.
Oh, Black Lightning, I’m so glad you’re back on our screens.