Black Lightning: Cress Williams Teases Season-Ending Showdown With Gravedigger (And an 'Emotional' Exit)

Black Lightning Season 3 Finale

Black Lightning is going to need to arrive for the Season 3 finale with a full charge, because he and his team will face off with not just Gravedigger but the Markovian army — and one would be wise not to rule out Painkiller, Agent Odell and Tobias Whale, as well.

Heading into the season ender, Gravedigger nearly killed Lightning aka Jefferson Pierce’s similarly powered younger daughter, Jennifer. Now, the multi-talented malevolent meta will clash with Black Lightning himself, all while his troops hunt down Freeland’s meta kids. Will the combined forces of Black Lightning, Thunder, Grace, Lynn, Geo et al be enough to fend off this massive threat? TVLine invited series star Cress Williams to tease the season finale, airing Monday at 9/8c on The CW.

WARNING: This Q&A references a cast member’s well reported exit.

TVLINE | I feel like this season, and especially since “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” has been Black Lightning‘s strongest ever. Did you feel the same while you were making it?
I was definitely excited about the crossover, because I thought that was going to be a game changer. And because we ended Season 2 with the idea that the Markovians were coming and there was this “metahuman arms race,” I thought that was a setup that lends itself for something bigger and better. We started off on the right foot, for sure.

TVLINE | I feel like everyone has had their moments, their arcs, as of late. Jefferson, and Lynn, the kids, Khalil….
Specifically Lynn, I noticed that once we got her into the lab and the whole meta thing, that it was going to give her much more to do. I know [Christine Adams] was really happy, and I was too, that we got to expand things for her.

TVLINE | Obviously there is a lot going on in the finale, with the Markovian army storming the streets, plus your own clash with Gravedigger. What’s the secret to making all of that feel as “big” as it needs to be, on a TV-show budget?
I guess keeping me in the suit. [Laughs] In the finale I’m in the suit the entire time. You have to pick and choose your battles as far as budget goes, so there are times where you decide to spend your money, as far as effects, and times where you need to insinuate a big moment. But I think we do well with it. The finale  is the first episode that I’ve been in where I’m Black Lightning the entire episode — I’m never not in the suit — and I think that translates into a lot going on.

Black Lightning Gravedigger

TVLINE | Jefferson just found out that Gravedigger is no less than his great-uncle. What will Gravedigger himself do with that information? Does it impress him much?
I think that if we had the time, that if the circumstances were different and we had the time for a sit-down conversation in a coffee shop, or over a bottle of wine, it’d carry some weight, But once the ball starts rolling [in the finale], everything is fast and high stakes, so even the little dialogue that Gravedigger and I have is all done amidst violence and action.

TVLINE | Wayne Brady has impressed me in this role, with the physicality and the fierceness, and just a touch of humor. And in your fight scenes, I’m not seeing a lot of doubling going on.
Oh, good, because then we’ve done our job! [Laughs] There is doubling going on, but we have ways to tweak that and fix that and hide it.

You know, he was a fan of the show and expressed interest in wanting to do it, and we were able to work it out. So he’s coming in fresh and excited. He’s never done this type of stuff before, the action, so it was interesting watching it from his eyes, like, the first time they put him on the wires and lifted him up in the air. You see that childlike enjoyment. So yeah, he’s brought a fresh energy to the show.

TVLINE | Even when he’s unleashing any of his acquired powers, there’s a carefully considered flourish or hand gesture.
Well, he’s an improv guy and that’s the key with all that stuff. In the moment while you’re doing it, nothing is happening — no lightning is coming out. Like a kid playing cops-and-robbers, you have to commit 100 percent, and he definitely knows about that from his background and his training.

Black Lightning GuptonTVLINE | This is original cast member Damon Gupton’s final episode. What do you want to say about Henderson’s involvement in the events of the finale?
You know, from an acting standpoint, I can tell you I’m extremely disappointed that he’s gone. Aside from maybe James [Remar as Gambi], he’s my favorite person to work with. We alway talked about wanting more scenes together, and we enjoyed both being on-screen but also off-screen together. He’s going to be sorely missed next season. I probably won’t know how much, really, until I get there and realize, “Wait, he’s not around?”

But I can tell you, [Henderson’s role in the finale] is going to be unexpected, it’s going to be emotional, and I hope that it riles up the audience in a good way.

TVLINE | Lastly, how would you describe the final moments of the finale? What will we be feeling?
It’s funny because the final moments — as with any show, I guess — went through quite a few rewrites. There were earlier iterations that would have made us as actors unhappy and mad [Laughs] and that probably would have made the audience really mad, but would have been more of a cliffhanger. This final version, we’re more at peace with, and it ends the way our show tends to end a season, where you get some good, you get a sense that the family is doing well… but then you hint at some things that are definitely to come. You realize that there are some cracks. You’ll get a sense of relief, but there are definitely problems to come.

TVLINE | The Pierces are not out of the woods yet.
Oh, no. Inside the family, or outside the family.

Want scoop on Black Lightning or any other show? Email InsideLine@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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