After Shocks: Black Lightning Episode 102, "Lawanda: Book of Hope"

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Black Lightning 102 Lawanda Book of Hope

Having rescued his daughters from the clutches of The 100, Jefferson Pierce (CRESS WILLIAMS) thinks his re-emergence as Black Lightning is a one-and-done. That's certainly the hope of his ex-wife, Lynn (CHRISTINE ADAMS), even though she's the one who urged him to proceed with the rescue mission, and who fears that returning to superheroing might mean a return to Jefferson's addiction to his powers (if he ever was addicted in the first place).

When Pierce addresses the community at Garfield High about the incident, he learns the the Seahorse Motel -- the prime location for all the prostitution run by The 100 -- is still in operation, and one of his former students, Lawanda White (TRACEY BONNER), has a daughter who is under enslavement to the gang. If Black Lightning isn't going to rescue her, too, then she's going to set up shop in her car and video every customer and hooker. Pierce begs her for 48 hours to try to help, and she agrees. (Also present in the crowd is Reverend Jeremiah Holt, played by CLIFTON POWELL. Is it coincidence that the last name "Holt" gets used here, which is also the name of the African-American superhero Mister Terrific on ARROW?)

Pierce's hope is that Inspector Henderson (DAMON GUPTON) will find the loose witness who kidnapped his girls and brought them to his boss, Lala (WILLIAM CATLETT). But that witness has already 'escaped' police custody, and we see him meet his end at Lala's hands. It appears things are going from bad to worse for Jefferson, especially when Wanda sees Lala pull up to the Seahorse and decides to confront him anyway, despite her promise to Jefferson. Lala shoots her in the parking lot, and Jefferson hears about her death directly from Inspector Henderson.

Grief-stricken, Jefferson goes against Lynn's wishes and makes his way to Lala's apartment building as Black Lightning. He's greeted by the doorman, and by the elevator operator (!?) but opts to take the stairs all the way to Lala's penthouse. As he confronts Lala, and prepares to beat on him, he is interrupted by the police, led by Inspector Henderson. They found Lawanda's cell phone which recorded her murder from her car. Black Lightning escapes and Lala is arrested.

Later that night, Tobias Whale (MARVIN 'KRONDON' JONES III), accompanied by his silent partner, Syonide (CHARLBI DEAN KRIEK), arrives at the police station. He's let in the back, and led to the holding room, which gets vacated. Alone with Lala, The Whale eliminates this potential witness and leaves.

Lynn and Gambi (JAMES REMAR), Black Lightning's former confidante, debate the efficacy of Jefferson's return to the streets, arguing whether or not it's an addiction, with Gambi partly blaming Lynn for the conditions of the streets in Freedland because she forced Jefferson's retirement. Also, Jefferson's daughters deal with their kidnapping and rescue in different ways, with Jennifer (CHINA ANNE MCCLAIN) opting to get loaded at school, while Anissa (NAFESSA WILLIAMS) finds reasons not to meet her girlfriend's parents. We also get more teases that Jennifer's powers are developing further as she has trouble sleeping and stops a robbery in progress when she goes to buy sleep aids at an all-night drug store.

I'm enjoying what I've seen so far in BLACK LIGHTNING, but I wonder if the marketing of the show is too niche. While other CW superhero shoes have a fairly diverse cast of ethnicities, genders, and lifestyles, BLACK LIGHTNING hits on two of those three cylinders perfectly. And while I would expect the cast to be mostly African-American, based on the setting of the story and the tale to be told, the very few white faces are (a) one potential "good guy" who helps Jefferson be Black Lightning and (b) corrupt cops. There's a ton of potential here, but for BLACK LIGHTNING to truly succeed as a series, the show needs a little more ARROW and a little less SHAFT.