‘Black Lightning’: Jennifer Reminds Us That Not Everyone Wants To Be a Hero
Since it began, Black Lightning has introduced heroes who have strong motivations for saving the citizens of Freeland. Jefferson Pierce comes out of retirement and suits up to save his daughters, but it’s clear he has devoted his life to improving his city to ensure a better future for the generations that follow. In a similar vein, Anissa Pierce was protesting for the rights of black people and standing up to the criminal organization the 100 even before she discovered her powers. Their passion and commitment are in stark contrast to the teenage Jennifer Pierce who would rather worry about high school than fighting crime. What Jennifer reminds viewers, and Black Lightning, is that being a hero has consequences and not everyone wants to endure them.
On Tuesday’s episode “Sins of the Father: The Book of Redemption” Anissa and Jefferson team up to save the metahumans the A.S.A has been keeping hostage for decades and discover the group is taking teens off streets of Freeland again. Meanwhile, Gambi is kidnapped by his former employer and Jennifer continues to struggle with her powers.
Viewers can get lost in the heroics of Black Lightning, but Jennifer’s reaction is quite valid. Learning the truth about her family’s powers answered questions for her about why her parents broke up. And, she’s seen through the shooting of her boyfriend that the world of vigilantes and standing up to criminals is dangerous with her own eyes. Jennifer has spent much of the seasons hanging out at school or her best friend Kiesha, so it makes sense that she doesn’t want to lose her chance at a normal life with children and a happy ending. She’s a teenager and wants the life she imagines for herself, not one with costumes, superpowers, and fighting criminals.
The contrasting experience of the Pierce daughters is made clear on Tuesday’s episode because while Anissa, as Thunder, is part of Black Lightning’s best action sequence to date, Jennifer is home dreading her newfound powers. Jennifer is terrified when she gets angry and blasts a throw pillow, which is so far from the fire that ignited in Anissa when she figures out what she’s capable of. Jennifer makes her feelings clear during her conversation with her mother during “The Book of Little Black Lies,” but Black Lightning brings the point home this week.
Jennifer’s strong reaction to her new powers is also a reminder that we don’t know much about how Jefferson first reacted when he got his powers. This episode sees Jennifer lying in bed, stressed, when her father comes in to assure her that, while she does need to learn to control her powers, no one will force her to do anything. With Jennifer and Anissa having opposing reactions, it would be interesting to discover where Jefferson fits in. Obviously, Jefferson eventually became Black Lightning, but could he have started out more like Jennifer, wanting to refuse the call? Or was he more like Anissa? There’s a look on Jefferson’s face that seems like understanding, which could come from experience. The truth is we just don’t know yet.
Jennifer not wanting to suit up makes perfect sense, but DC Comic fans know her future probably includes suiting up as the hero Lightning. So, the question is what is coming down the line for young Jennifer that changes her mind? Something drastic must be on the way if Jennifer’s is going to change her mind and become a hero.
Black Lightning airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern on The CW.