REVIEW: Black Lightning S2E1- The Book of Consequences: Chapter One: Rise of the Green Light Babies

Black Lightning wastes no time jumping into the aftershocks of the explosive season 1 finale in its season 2 premiere, aptly titled “Book of Consequences: Chapter One: Rise of the Green Light Babies.” This episode sees each member of the Pierce family face the consequences of taking on Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III) and the ASA. For Jefferson (Cress Williams) and Lynn (Christine Adams), that means big changes in their professional lives, as well as new challenges in their own relationship. Whereas for Jennifer (China Anne McClain), the consequences from embracing her powers are affecting the people closest to her. Elsewhere, the city of Freeland deals with the consequences of the government experimenting on them, Kara Fowdy (Skye P Marshall) faces the consequences in the role she played as ASA spotter, and Syonide (Charbli Dean Kriek) faces the ultimate consequence for getting Fowdy’s hair wet.

Anissa has a unique take on “fundraising.”

The writers continue Black Lightning’s signature style of weaving in Black American cultural realism into the fabric of the show. The opening news report shows police using extreme force, resulting in accidentally killing a Black child. Minus the detail that the young man was on Green Light, this “ripped from the headlines” story is all too familiar for many Americans. Similarly to real life, the Black Church plays an important role as the cornerstone of the community in the midst of tragedy. The police are using the Green Light excuse to go after people with powers, and the government has labeled the pod kids a public health issue, refusing to release them to their families. An impassioned Reverend Holt (Clifton Powell) rails against the police’s “shoot first ask questions later” mentality and organizes residents in an effort to raise 500K to sue the government for custody of the pod kids. In the wake of these new challenges, the show also takes another opportunity to lean into the Malcolm/Martin // Anissa (Nafessa Williams)/Jefferson contrasting parallels. Father and daughter don’t see eye to eye on the best way to help the church and the citizens see the release of the pod kids from the government. Jefferson would prefer the peaceful approach to “let the system work” find justice for the kids; whereas Anissa believes in taking matters into your own hands if you want to see justice done. For Anissa, that justice comes in the form of some Robin Hood-esque robbery of drug dealers to raise the money the Church needs to sue the government. Something tells me that’s not a sustainable solution. However, for now, I, like Reverend Holt, will not look a gift horse in the mouth…

Jefferson and Frank talk about what’s best for Garfield High – save the school, not the job.

Jefferson has to deal with the repercussions of quite a few decisions he’s made since resurrecting his super hero alias last season. A weak excuse of an ill timed “family vacation” does not do much to placate the school board council, upset with Jefferson’s inability to keep Garfield High students safe in the wake of attacks from the 100, Syonide, and Pain Killer (Jordan Calloway). Jefferson proves unable to charm his way out of the situation, which leads to a contentious scene with old friend and school board council member Frank Napier (Robert Townsend III) about respectability politics and what it means to be Black in professional (code: white) spaces. Napier blames Jefferson for his having to “explain to these white folks all things African American, including yo’ Black ass.” Napier isn’t the only one with a problem with Jefferson’s “HNIC mentality,” as Jefferson also has to deal with the fallout of Detective Henderson (Damon Gumpton) figuring out that he’s Black Lightning.

Even Lynn has her own issues with Jefferson’s stubborn resistance to her wishes to continue her research on the pod kids, or to Jennifer seeing a therapist. My surprise at Salim Akil being able to get the line “house n****” aired on a CW show aside, in light of Jefferson’s decision to become Black Lightning again, several things become clear: Garfield High is suffering and may close permanently. Jefferson’s lies may have permanently damaged his relationship with Henderson. And while the ASA scandal may be exposed, the city is still suffering from the aftermath. For Jefferson, at least with the case of Garfield High, the choice is clear: save the school, not the job. It’s one of the most difficult consequences Jefferson has to accept.

Family comes together to Jennifer.

While Jefferson’s consequences are all the results of his own actions, poor Jennifer’s suffering is no fault of her own. In a heartbreaking turn of events, Jennifer’s not adjusting well to having powers. She’s now glowing and floating in her sleep, and her inability to control it is causing her stress and concern from her family members who have no idea how to help her. As much as Lynn tries to be understanding and supportive, her involuntarily recoil from her daughter after Jenn accidentally injures her, betrays fear of powers neither she nor Jennifer fully understand. It’s frightening to both women, and heartbreaking to watch. Jennifer can’t even talk to her  best friend Keisha (Kyanna Simonne Simpson) about her situation. The news reports of Green Light Babies re-emerging with powers doesn’t sit well with Keisha, and she’s convinced that the existence of these “freaks” signals End of Days. Jennifer’s already lost one close relationship in Khalil (although he seems keen to re-connect) due to Green Light and the ASA. This new strain in her relationship with Keisha is just one more consequence that came with a gift Jennifer never asked for. As resistant as Jefferson is to the idea of Jennifer seeing a therapist, it really may be just the thing she needs to help her get a handle on her new abilities and the new reality of her life.

Kara Fowdy auditioning to be the next Charlie’s Angel. When and where did she get all these new skills?!

Finally, on the villain side of the episode, Kara Fowdy spent the episode facing the consequences of her decisions head on. We didn’t get much insight to Fowdy and her skill set season one, as she was mostly relegated to mooning over Jefferson and taking orders. However, in this episode, her character gets a full upgrade in martial arts and weaponry, going toe-to-toe (or should I say heel to heel?) with Tobias’ right hand woman. Can I just say I’m pissed we lost Syonide not 10 minutes into the episode to Fowdy of all people?! Syonide was such an underrated villain from season one, it sucks to have lost her so abruptly. I’m not exactly sure how Kara thought she would be able to sneak in and steal the mysterious briefcase back from Tobias. However, if that harpoon in her abdomen is any indication, Fowdy may soon regret taking from Tobias “the only thing left in this world that I gave a damn about.”

Miscellanous:

  • Lynn gains a new adversary in ASA Agent Odell (Bill Duke), or, as I like to call him, “Creepy Al Roker.” Duke brings a commanding presence and tension to his performance. Agent Odell is sure to be a formidable opponent and obstacle for Lynn to overcome if she wants to help the Green Light Babies.
  •  Jennifer’s personal struggles are paralleled in the episode by a Green Light baby named Issa Williams. Presumed dead in an altercation in which he’s killed by police at the start of the episode, he rises inexplicably from the body bag. He’s met with fear from his mother who (perhaps compelled by Issa’s powers) explains that she was relieved that he died and didn’t want him to come back. So Issa runs away and becomes the first of what will probably be a recurring theme this season of young kids with powers, abandoned. Alone. Outsiders?