In telling the story of Jefferson Pierce’s second stint as a superhero, Black Lightning has developed an engaging world populated with Pierce’s family, friends, and foes, and incorporated a few mysteries along the way. What it hasn’t done much of is explore Black Lightning’s first stint as a Freeland’s resident superhero and as a result, one question has been left unanswered: Is Black Lightning a good hero?
Most superhero dramas begin at the start of the Hero’s Journey begins — or in some cases, way before that. Shows like Gotham and Smallville introduce heroes years before they put on their famed costumes. Early seasons of Arrow and The Flash were about heroes who were still learning about their powers and what it means to be a hero. Black Lightning is unique since its central hero already did all of that, and retired from his crime-fighting days before the start of the show. While it allows for a more matured man and hero, the show has pretty much left Jefferson’s first days as Black Lightning alone aside from the issues it caused in his marriage. Yet, as Episode 6 “Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder,” shows, Black Lightning is still making some rookie mistakes for a supposedly veteran hero. What should we make of that?
Gambi and Lynn are still serving as Jefferson’s guides to understanding his powers during the main action of Black Lightning. It’s understandable that scientists needed to explain powers to Jefferson when he first became Black Lightning, like the Flash’s helpful team at S.T.A.R. Labs. In this episode, Jefferson says Lynn believes his powers are like a drug and Gambi explains the basics of how they were when he disagrees with her, but it’s never made clear if Jefferson understand them. The previous episode ended with Jefferson on the ground after his powers short out during a fight after he pushes himself too hard. Shouldn’t he have known that would happen? He’s not a scientist, yes, but he should get the basics if this is his second stint as a hero.
Science aside, Jefferson not knowing about Tobias Whale and not pushing Gambi further for the secrets he’s keeping are rookie moves. The 100 is something Jefferson was paying attention to as a principal worried about his students, so his experience as Black Lightning should have helped him keep tabs on the criminal organization better. And if not knowing Whale was still alive doesn’t leave people with questions about the hero’s abilities, then not pressing Gambi absolutely is. Jefferson has suspected Gambi of keeping secrets, but at the start of “Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder” Jefferson knows Tobias is alive and still sits with Gambi to discuss his powers. He even goes after Whale intended to kill him instead of getting information from his supposed ally Gambi
The episode also included a showdown between Black Lightning and Thunder. Unaware they were related, the father and daughter fight after Lady Eve sends goons after research Lyn has on people with powers. Newbie hero Thunder meets a recharged Black Lightning blow for blow. It made for an epic fight sequence and it will push the story forward in many ways, but the veteran hero has more control over his powers and experience than Anissa. So what happened?
Black Lightning is a great father, principal, and staple in the community, but Black Lightning still needs to prove he is (or ever was) good at being a hero.
Black Lightning airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern on The CW.