Man, these TV show reviews come at the slowest speed. I promise you it’s not my fault, it’s my rota co-ordinators because they’re not giving me enough days off to sit at home and watch TV. Okay, excuses aside, I was looking to return to show that I’d seen before and perhaps not rated the highest, so I thought I would watch the second season of Black Lightning. The first season had made a decent attempt at introducing the character, so I was excited to see what they could do with the second.
The second season of Black Lightning starts exactly where the last season left off. At the end of the last season, we were made aware of the presence of several kids who were experimented on 30 years ago and frozen in stasis to keep them alive. Jefferson’s wife, Lynn sets about to helm the project to help revive these people. Unfortunately, she’ll have to go through the ASA who argue that the ‘lab kids’ are their property. Meanwhile, Jefferson’s two daughters are going through their own journeys. Anissa, aka, Thunder, is finding that she wants to be her own hero outside of her father’s shadow and more importantly, his set of rules. Furthermore, she finds that her love life is more complicated than most and when her girlfriend goes missing, Anissa finds herself investigating one weird occurrence after the other. Jennifer, on the other hand, is now coming to terms with the fact that she has powers that she doesn’t want. But when her quondam lover Khalil turns up at her door again, what will she do to protect him and how far will she go? With all this happening in Freeland you’d think that perhaps Black Lightning would have less to do, but unfortunately his arch-nemesis Tobias Whale remains at large. Can Jefferson unite his divided and stressed family? And can he still maintain his day job and his vigilante activities with everything going on? Well, you have to watch it to get the answers.
Back when Season 1 premiered, I remember wondering what niche the CW was trying to fit this show into. And for the most part, it was fairly evident. They wanted another vigilante show and also they wanted to tackle sensitive issues such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Although the first season did a fairly decent job at introducing the character and his backstory, I have to be honest, Season 2 really detracted from much of what made this show good. Although I appreciated the fact that the writers were looking to expand the universe by centring some of the episode arcs on both Anissa and Jennifer, I felt that their stories should not have superseded Jefferson’s mission to clear the city of crime and to catch Tobias. Often it felt as if Jefferson was doing just as much watching as we were. The central plot revolving around the metahumans in the lab was also sometimes tedious and boring. Fundamentally, the entire season felt like a filler episode and with no crossovers or anything of the sort, it left much to be desired.
So Cress Williams returns as our titular hero and for the most part he does a good job. I think ultimately he’s let down by the writers, but he’s very believable as his character and I appreciate that. His supporting cast in Nafessa Williams as Anissa and China Anne McClain as Jennifer also do justice to their characters. Their acting isn’t electrifying but it does what it needs to and no I’m not going to apologize for that pun. Marvin Krondon Jones III is excellent as Tobias Whale, and his performance was akin to Vincent D’Onofrio’s as Kingpin in Daredevil. If I had to pick a standout acting performance, it would be Jordan Calloway as Painkiller. He is able to subtly portray a villain that doesn’t want to be one. I wasn’t particularly surprised when there were rumours of a Painkiller spin-off being eyed at the CW.
As with most TV shows, a renewal naturally means more interest in the show, which means that the budget is slightly higher. That was clearly evident with this season as there was a ton more CGI and special effects. More heroes mean more diversification of those effects. There were very few moments where I thought the CGI could be better, so I guess in that sense, the show did well. I think the fight scenes were also choreographed to a higher quality, which was highly important in the case of characters like Thunder and Painkiller. Finally, the music was decent but the opening theme really needs some improvement in my opinion.
In conclusion, I think perhaps I expected more from this series given the iconic character Black Lightning is in the comics, but the writers disappointed this season a lot. There was no exciting plot, both main and side, and I think that despite the strides made in CGI and acting, the season was a disappointment. One can only hope that future seasons are better!
Integral vs Filler Episodes: ★★½