‘Black Lightning’ S1 Ep.2: ‘Lawanda: The Book of Hope’ Review
When the episode starts with Al Green you know it’s going to be good.
The last time we saw Black Lightning, Jeff had saved the girls after they were kidnapped and taken to the Sea Horse Motel by the 100 gang. The next morning Jeff is having a hard time recovering from his night as Black Lightning. Lynn is there to help him and they kiss.
Jeff is holding a parents meeting when a former student named Lawanda wants Jeff’s help to get her daughter back from the 100. Turns out the Sea Horse Motel was reopened and back in business the next day.
Meanwhile, Whale plans to bring the hammer down on the whole city to get information about the return of Black Lightning.
This is where the audience finds out that Whale is super racist and the show doesn’t shy away from it. His hateful language is used to make a point. He sees himself as above the fray of the low class, working folks. Hold for right wing outrage in 3…2…1.
Since they are the only real witnesses to the kidnapping, Lala sends a boy with a water pistol to threaten the girls. It’s a jarring moment that illustrates the show’s commitment to putting the harsh realities of a neighborhood under siege by violence on display.
Everyone is looking for Will so he can testify against the 100, but unfortunately for him, the gang finds him first and Lala doesn’t hesitate to kill his cousin.
Henderson comes by the house to check on everyone and tells Jeff that Lawanda is parked outside the Sea Horse Motel recording men and taking down their license plates.
Maybe it’s years of TV watching, but Henderson screams crooked cop. Keep an eye out for his stunning betrayal in a few episodes.
While Jeff is busy struggling with his return to the superhero world, the girls are having trouble dealing with the trauma of their kidnapping. Anissa tells her girlfriend about breaking the sink, but she just tells her she will find Anissa a good therapist. Jennifer gets drunk at school and gets a pep talk from her boyfriend, who looks like a young Jesse Williams.
China Anne McClain is better than this cliche rebellious teenage daughter material they’re giving her, so let’s hope there’s more to her story.
Jeff convinces Lawanda to give him 48 hours to figure things out, however when she confronts Lala outside the motel she gets killed. This is what finally gets Jeff to return to being Black Lightning.
Lynn confronts Gambi about helping Jeff with his Black Lightning crusade and they point fingers at each other for the city’s troubles and their marriage falling apart.
This is where we need to take a moment and talk about how frustrating Lynn is. She was fine with him using his powers to save their girls, but no one else’s. She strung him along, hinting that she was ready to reconcile, then closed the door again the minute Black Lightning was back.
Maybe it’s time Jeff starts noticing the co-worker who’s clearly into him.
Back in the action, a fed up Black Lightning fights his way up to Lala’s penthouse and is about to handle his business when the cops show up and he runs away.
Turns out Lawanda recorded Lala shooting her, so he’s busted. Whale knows this and walks right into the police station and kills him.
In the final scene Anissa stops an armed robbery at a pharmacy by using her super strength.
Only two episodes in and Black Lightning is already establishing itself as one of the best superhero shows on TV. Its unapologetic blackness both celebrates and lectures the culture while never losing sight of its comic book origins.
Also happening around Freeland:
The episode was bookended by Al Green and featured a cool 70s soundtrack to Black Lightning’s fight scene. Seriously the music supervisor for this show already deserves a raise.