It's always interesting to me when a second episode filmed months after the pilot feels like the second half of the pilot. Last week showed Jefferson coming out of retirement to save his daughters, but this was the episode that showed him truly becoming Black Lightning again, embracing the calling. I'm glad for that. Too many screen superhero stories try to fit superheroes into stock cinematic action tropes like revenge or protecting one's own family or fixing one's own mistakes. But superheroes are supposed to be protectors of the community or world that they inhabit, putting themselves on the line for everyone rather than just their own interests. And this episode did a great job establishing that community and showing it, in a way, actively urging Jefferson to step up and help them.
The sense of BL as a local hero with close ties to the community reminds me of one of my favorite comics, Ms. Marvel
. It gives it an interesting texture, a real sense of connection with what's being protected. The "Batgirl of Burnside" comics of recent years have had a similar flavor as well, though without as strong an ethnic component.
I also love superhero stories that show civilians appreciating the heroes and being willing to step up and help them in return for all the help they've given their communities. Usually that's in extreme situations where the hero is in danger, like in Superman 2
where the Metropolitans try to rise up against the Phantom Zone villains after they think Superman's been killed, or in the marvelous subway sequence in Spider-Man 2
. The familiarity and helpfulness that the doorman and elevator operator extended to BL here was on a smaller scale, but it gave me the same heartwarming feeling, that sense of the hero inspiring others to want to make a difference too.
I wonder when we'll see our first supervillain show up here. It's been made pretty clear that a fair number of people in this show's world are superhuman -- the pilot had a talking head on TV reference superheroes in other cities, and clearly Anissa has her own superpowers. So there must be some superpowered bad guys too. I don't think I want this show to use the same "supervillain of the week" formula that other shows use, not if it gets in the way of the more intimate, community-driven narrative, but it could get boring if all of BL's adversaries were just guys with guns, not offering him any real challenge.
QueenTiye, on 24 January 2018 - 12:18 AM, said:
The only sour note was the fridging of Lawanda. That sucked and I really wonder why writers don't just...stop doing that.
It didn't feel like a fridging to me, because LaWanda wasn't passive and didn't just die in service to the male lead's story. Okay, she did, but she was also pursuing her own narrative arc, her own goal to rescue her daughter, and it was her relentless heroism and sacrifice that shamed Jefferson into realizing he couldn't hold back anymore -- that if you have the means to make a difference for your community, you have an obligation to act, no matter the risk. (Which, come to think of it, was the exact theme of the preceding Flash
episode.) Her story didn't just serve BL's, it drove
Besides, this is a show whose focus is on the community the hero is protecting, giving them faces and personalities, making them more than just anonymous bystanders like they tend to be on other superhero shows. And that means that sometimes characters we've gotten to know and care about are going to die. Overall, I think that's better than having the victims just be faces in a crowd. Most superhero shows focus their attention mainly on the villains of the week -- I like the idea of a show that focuses more on the civilians the hero is protecting, or sometimes failing to protect. There used to be a lot of shows like that, not just superhero shows but cop and detective and lawyer shows and so forth, where the weekly focus was as much on the civilians who needed the heroes' help as on the villains who threatened them, if not more so. Modern superhero shows and movies have gotten so focused on the battle between superhero and supervillain that the people being protected have become ciphers.