Black Lightning lit up The CW this week, giving the Tuesdays-at-9/8c time slot its biggest audience (“Crisis on Earth-X” excepted) in three years and its best demo rating in two.
Coming out of that well-received premiere, TVLine rounded up some answers to questions you might have about its titular principal by day/costumed crimefighter by night, his newly empowered daughter, arch nemesis Tobias Whale and more.
IS BLACK LIGHTNING ‘DEAD’? | After Jefferson Pierce used his powers, under the darkness of a blackout, to clear the way for daughter Jennifer to flee Club 100, Tobias Whale refused to believe that his onetime foe had been resurrected. “We will eventually get to [the why of] that, but yes, Tobias does legitimately think that Black Lightning is dead,” series star Cress Williams affirms for TVLine. Jefferson, meanwhile, “doesn’t think that Tobias is dead. He thinks he’s just ‘gone,’ and it’s not until really farther down the line that [he learns differently].”
HOW DID JEFFERSON’S DAUGHTERS NOT RECOGNIZE HIM AS THEIR RESCUER? | After all, the girls did get a look at Black Lightning before he grabbed Lala’s flunky Will and lobbed him onto the roof of a car. And the goggles only conceal so much. Episode 2 offers a tidy answer, when Jennifer (China Anne McClain) explains to a friend what it’s like to look at the superhero’s face, and why she wasn’t able to see who it was.
WILL BLACK LIGHTNING’S SUIT GET UPGRADES? | …in the way that Green Arrow and The Flash’s do? Though James Remar’s Gambi (a legit tailor!) did just outfit Jeff with a new version, further refinement is to come. “It’s like a piece of technology, so, there is, like, the 2.0 version and the 3.0 version…,” Williams shared at TCA press tour earlier this month. “It’s always been cool, but it gets even better and better. Our latest version is pretty awesome.”
WHY ‘FREELAND’? | In keeping with its particularly “real” feel, Black Lightning — unlike The CW’s other DC Comics shows — was originally to be set in an actual city. But what showrunner Salim Akil aspired to depict with the drama led to a rethink. “I was going to call it Richmond, because that’s where I’m from — Richmond, California. But I didn’t want to make people feel bad about being in the communities that they were in,” he explained at TCA. “This is a story about me, and it’s a story about the people that I know. And I want to show them respect.” And yes, the chosen fictional name is very much about “trying to free the people.”
WILL ANISSA’S SECRET SHOCK HER FOLKS? | At the close of the pilot and coming up during pillow talk with girlfriend Chenoa (played by Shein Mompremier), Anissa will struggle to make sense of the bathroom sink she just shattered. Further stalling any inclination to share her concern with others, says portrayer Nafessa Williams, is “just hands down already knowing that my parents are gonna freak out!” After all, given what we know about how Jeff’s own costumed derring-do killed his marriage, “You can only imagine how my mother is going to handle this ‘coming out’ of powers and realizing that it’s in the family.”
IS JEFF’S LOVE LIFE SUPERCHARGED? | If you, as ex-wife Lynn did, sensed a “spark” between Jefferson and high school colleague Ms. Fowdy, that’s because there is a li’l something there — though not as much as there apparently once was. “I wanted Jefferson to have a lady in his life early on in the show, and there was a moment where he would kiss this woman. And I fought for that,” Akil shared at TCA, presumably taking about Fowdy. “And literally, when we filmed it and when I saw him kiss the woman, I was, like, ‘It can’t happen. It just can’t,’ because everything that Cress had brought to that role up until then said something completely different about who this man was” — and that is a man very much still in love with his ex.
WHAT ELSE CAN BLACK LIGHTNING DO? | In the first episode alone, we saw him cause blackouts as well as power surges, deliver electrifying punches and kicks, and wield current almost like a giant claw. But wait, there’s ever more! “Keep your eyes on Episode 5!” teases Akil.