The Pierce family, Martin Proctor's ASA, and Tobias Whale's gang all struggle for control of Freeland.
As climactic as this season finale was, I have to say that I’m mostly just bummed that Black Lightning is over so soon. Oh sure, it’s been renewed for a second season, but the show has been on such a good run — complete with evocative storylines, strong performances, and a city that actually feels real — that I’m bummed I already have to wait another year for more.
Maybe it’s just because I rewatched Black Panther the other week, but I noticed multiple parallels between Ryan Coogler’s world-conquering movie and this Black Lightning episode. The first and most obvious is the hero’s conversation with his dead father on the astral plane. In Wakanda, there’s a ritual for this: The new king is put through a mystical ceremony that actually does allow him to spiritually meet with his father and get closure on whatever resentments and fears had been left hanging so he can assume power for himself. I keep thinking that would be a great idea in real life, since lingering parental resentments can so easily distort one’s worldview — and, thus, how one chooses to use power.
This paternal communion certainly works just as well in Freeland as it did in Wakanda. This whole season, we’ve seen just how many things — Jefferson’s enmity against Tobias, Gambi’s conversion from ASA goon to superhero mentor, Anissa’s own inquisitive quest for justice — go back to Alvin Pierce, but we haven’t seen much of Alvin himself. This week, as Jefferson lies comatose in Gambi’s secret cabin, we see scenes from his childhood before Alvin’s death. In black-and-white flashback filter, we see Gambi warn Alvin to stop pursuing Tobias as young Jefferson watches from the car. We later cut to Alvin’s funeral, where Gambi realizes how alone Jefferson is without his father. We get other scenes, too, in which we see Alvin instill Jefferson with a lifelong love of education and self-betterment. Best of all, we get that aforementioned Black Panther echo of the adult Jefferson conversing with Alvin. There’s an amazing soundtrack for this scene (“Stairway to Heaven” by The O’Jays) and a fascinating conversation between these Pierce men. Jefferson apologizes for hiding under the bed when Tobias came, and Alvin tells him that’s exactly what he was told to do. Jefferson also apologizes for the violence he’s committed and perpetuated as Black Lightning, and gets a very important message from his father: “Peace ain’t always peaceful.” For his part, Alvin apologizes for leaving his son so soon. Both men are crying, but their time is up now. Alvin tells his son to go back and finish his business.
With that, Jefferson roars back to life. He got help from Jennifer’s powers, Lynn’s love, Anissa’s passion, and Gambi’s loyalty, but it was the connection with his father and their struggle that brought him back to life. Speaking of Ryan Coogler films, it reminds me of the great climactic scene in Creed where Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis appears to be down for the count. Adonis’ whole life flashes before his eyes — his training, his loves, his family — but it’s not until he gets a glimpse of his father that he, too, comes back to himself to finish what he set out to do.
There’s just one problem here: Jefferson’s powers appear to be gone now. There’s always a price for life, eh? (Recap continues on next page)