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TV Review: Black Lightning (Season 1, Episode 12)


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Resurfacing for the first time in a few weeks, Tobias Whale is back in Freeland - as is Khalil, now walking but brainwashed.

The ASA has never been more dangerous for Jefferson Pierce than they are now: they’ve run him and his family out of their home, they have a spy at the school, the police department essentially in their pocket, and Tobias Whale, Khalil and Lala out there doing their bidding.  

Tobias and Khalil were both being held in an ASA facility, where they were being treated for their respective injuries at the hands (directly or indirectly) of Black Lightning. More details are revealed about the Freeland Experiment: the vaccine that was intended to keep the city’s citizens docile didn’t work, but rather gave young children metahuman abilities. So far, nothing new.

But there’s a reason the ASA has been so focused on bringing in Black Lightning. The children who displayed abilities as a result of the vaccine would die before they fully matured. The ASA then created Green Light to prevent these children from becoming sick, but this too failed.

Proctor therefore sees Black Lightning as the solution to his problem, and wants to run tests on him to figure out why he, but not the others, is able to grow old with metahuman abilities. Hence this week’s mission, sending Tobias to bring Black Lightning in alive.

To do this, Tobias unknowingly uses Jefferson’s students against him, sending Khalil to attack the school and his ex-classmates in an attempt to draw Black Lightning out. The scene of school kids being attacked indiscriminately is disturbing, primarily because of the parallels it draws with the real world. But Black Lightning has never been a show to shy away from the more difficult themes, and it’s served it well so far.

When Anissa and Jefferson come to the students’ rescue, Syonide, Tobias and Khalil are waiting for them. It’s the first time Syonide has gotten much screen time, but the fight between her and Thunder was masterfully executed. She’s clearly unpredictable, dangerous, and very smart. It took her only minutes to realise that Anissa was vulnerable in the moments when she wasn’t holding her breath. Let’s hope she plays a bigger part in the season’s finale.

The turning point in ‘The Resurrection and the Light: The Book of Pain’ is Jefferson’s death at the villains’ hands. It might seem cheap, or predictable, because of course the show’s main character and titular hero wasn’t going to stay dead.

Yet in fact, his death wasn’t the point at all. It was an event designed for Jennifer to realise that her powers are not necessarily a curse. She brings her father back to life, which will undoubtedly make her re-evaluate her self-image. Whether this comes into use next week or next season, it sets Jennifer up on what promises to be a fascinating journey of self-discovery.

And so the Pierce family are hurt, in hiding, and traumatised. Heading into this season’s finale, the show has a lot of loose ends to tie up, a lot of puzzle pieces that need fitting together. Given Black Lightning’s track record though, audiences are in good hands.

Black Lightning is available to watch on Netflix, with new episodes arriving weekly.

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