Whenever I watch a “Black television show” there is always a message. An overtly, unsubtle preachy message about past and present racism, how black lives matter, racial profiling or police brutality on black people. I was hoping that this wouldn’t be the case for Black Lightning. Granted, as a black man myself these issues are very important and I feel where Showrunners Salim and Mara Brock Akil are coming from. But the need to get what I will refer to as “the message” out took away from what could have been an awesome pilot.
The protagonist Jefferson Pierce, played by Cress Williams, has retired his super hero alter ego Black lighting nine years ago because of the strain it presented to his family. He made a promise to Christine Adam’s character Lynn Pierce, Jefferson’s ex-wife, to hang it up for good. He is forced back into action when his daughters Anissa Pierce, played by Nefessa Williams, and Jennifer Pierce, played by China Ann McCain are kidnapped by the 100 gang. Now the events leading up to this point is where it gets unbearable. Unbearable to watch that is. We open on Jefferson and Jennifer waiting at the police station for his daughter Anissa to be released after protesting. They get in the car and here is where the writers lay the preaching on thick when they quote Dr. Martin Luther King. Then Jefferson gets pulled over by the police and they racial profile him with a man that committed a crime. I appreciate the fact that Jefferson dragged the police officers for thinking that a man dressed in a suit and tie with his two daughters would fit the description a man that committed a crime. Jefferson’s anger builds and we see a taste of his super powers. I see what you did there Salim. I see. Then we get to a the part where Jefferson Pierce is being presented an award by Senator Nina Turner for his outstanding work as a Principal and what he means to the community. This scene right here tells me that Jefferson is very well known within his community which makes what happened to him in the teaser of the pilot tough to believe. Even more so with him being friends with Damon Gupton‘s character William Henderson as a veteran detective inspector with the police.
Things get interesting when Jennifer decides to go to a club owned by the 100 Gang. There she gets pulled into some drama with a gang member named Will. Apparently Will owes Lala, a general within the 100 Gang, some money. There is a scene shown later where he makes the name sound tough. It’s hilarious. Anyway, Jefferson finds out Jennifer went to the 100 Gang’s club from Anissa and is levid. He goes down there and ends up molly whopping the shit out of a few 100 Gang members. In the mist of the chaos, Jennifer manages to get away to be scolded by her caring eldest sister. Jefferson manages to leave with a flesh wound until he has yet another run in with the police that racially profiles him. Out of all the black people at that damn club, the police decide to grab the guy in the suit. Again. Now this just tell me that this city has shitty police officers whom which have terrible detective skills and have allowed the 100 Gang members thrive and grow in power. Jefferson gets shot by tazers from the police but it only supercharges him up. He shocks the hell of the officers and blows up they’re car as he exits left with nobody around to catch or see him do this.
Gambi played by James Remar patches Jefferson up while urging him to become Black Lightning again. Of course he refuses then goes back home to be greeted by the ex-wife. The news talks about how Black Lightning has come back in the background as Jefferson lies about using his powers to rescue Jennifer. Then all is good in the neighborhood until that 100 Gang member Will shows up to the school and try to patch things up with Jennifer. It goes super sideways and Anissa steps in and molly whops Will on his backside. Oh I forgot to mention that this is Will’s second ass-whooping. The first came from Jennifer when she got drag in that mess with Lala (lol) I’m sorry it’s funny to write let alone say out loud. Back to the review at hand, Will thought it would be a great idea to pull a gun out and make Anissa pay for that ass whooping she just gave him but Jefferson comes in and stops him with some good ol’fashion common sense. It doesn’t work because Will returns to the school the next day with friends and guns out and everything. They kidnap Jennifer and Anissa. And this was sort the breaking point for me. Were there any school security guards? Will was able to get in and out clean. That never happens in a school that’s in a rough neighborhood. Detective Williams and the police can’t find them at all. Which prompts Jefferson to return as Black Lightning with no objections from his ex-wife.
Jefferson enlists Gambi for his new Neon suit that helps amplifies his powers. He goes in their territory and kicks some major ass. We even get see a Kamehameha blast for all you Dragon Ball fans. Anissa and Jennifer manage to run away but Black Lightning true objective seemed to be getting La-La (lol) but he’s nowhere to be found. Will gets his third and final ass beating from Black Lightning. Lala was taken to the head of the 100 named Tobias Whale played by Marvin “Krondon” Jones III. Lala is blamed for bringing black Lightning back and is order to kill him. The pilot ends with Anissa activating her powers through trauma.
Most pilots aren’t good. This pilot wasn’t good because there were things that just didn’t make sense from a realistic standpoint. I thought the fight scenes were really cool and how he used his powers but the series has a lot of work. I plan to check out the next episode in hopes of it getting better and maybe I can encourage you all to check it out if I decide to write another piece.