TV Review: Black Lightning (Season 1, Episode 2)
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After a triumphant pilot, Black Lightning proves it has what it takes to keep riding its momentum in ‘LaWanda: The Book of Hope’. This episode explores the tragic story of LaWanda White, an ex-student of Jefferson’s, in her mission to rescue her daughter from The One Hundred, using this arc to explore Jefferson’s dilemma as to the best way in which he can help his community. In exploring the shortcomings of law enforcement’s abilities, and the perception from within some black communities that the police simply don’t have their best interests at heart, Jefferson must decide who Freeland needs him to be: the ‘Black Jesus’ of the community or Black Lightning? In a different vein to many other superhero shows which use policial ineptness to necessitate vigilante intervention, Black Lightning goes on another, far more mature route, which is to explain why the police can’t intervene to rescue LaWanda’s daughter. Henderson elaborates that girls who sell their bodies for the gang develop a Stockholm syndrome mentality, exemplifying the legal limits placed on the police. In this way, Black Lightning is still needed to fill a gap in the system, but rather than laying blame at the doors of individuals in the police department, the episode places it in the broader judicial and political systems.
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