Welcome back to EW’s Superhero Insider! This week, The Flash returned for its fifth season with an XS — sorry! — of energy thanks to Jessica Parker Kennedy’s Nora West-Allen, and Black Lightning kicked off its second season with a powerful episode that dealt with the many consequences of season 1’s climactic finale. Here are the highlights:
Jessica Parker Kennedy rejuvenated the speedy superhero drama in the fifth season premiere. As Nora West-Allen, Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris’ (Candice Patton) future daughter, she was charming and awkward in equal measure, and her performance had the same energy as Gustin’s when he first joined the Arrowverse in Arrow season 2. Nora geeking out about donning the same tachyon enhancer Barry used to meet Supergirl reminded me of when Barry was rattling off his theories about the Green Arrow when he came to then Starling City for the first time. Furthermore, Nora’s presence in the present also led to one of my favorite moments of the episode: Barry coaching Nora through phasing, which was a great callback to one of the best season 1 scenes. I’m so happy that Kennedy is a series regular this season because I can’t wait to see where she and the writers take this character. —Chancellor Agard
Related: Read our recap here, and find out more about Cicada’s powers and connection to Nora here.
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) may be the title character of the CW’s newest superhero show, but to Black Lightning‘s credit he’s far from the sole focus. As of this week’s season 2 premiere, the most compelling character on the show is still Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Anissa Pierce (Nafessa Williams). The very first episode of Black Lightning earlier this year ended with the revelation that Anissa had inherited her father’s metagene, and the rest of the season saw her hone her powers and combine them with her deep sense of social justice to become Thunder, a superhero in her own right.
The Thunder costume is nowhere to be seen in the first episode of season 2, but Anissa is still fighting for the people she cares about. In order to help Freeland families whose loved ones are being held hostage by the government in the wake of Green Light experiments, Anissa uses her superpowers to beat up a bunch of drug dealers and steal their ill-gotten money to help fund the families’ lawsuits. The fight, which takes place in a Daredevil-style hallway setting and boasts moves worthy of The Raid, is definitely the highlight scene of Black Lightning‘s return, and promises that season 2 will have action worthy of its predecessor. Most interesting, though, is how Anissa forgoes her colorful costume in favor of the kind of black-bloc outfit notably worn by anti-fascist street fighters, which proves Black Lightning is still very interested in flavoring its superhero stories with themes and motifs from real-life struggles. —Christian Holub
Related: Read our recap here, and our season 2 premiere postmortem with showrunner Salim Akil here.
This week’s crossover moments:
- On The Flash, Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) speeds off-screen to ask the Legends to analyze Nora’s blood, and their Gideon discovers that her body is filled with negative tachyons.
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The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m., followed by Black Lightning at 9 p.m., on The CW.