Black Lightning sets Painkiller-centric backdoor pilot for season 4
EW has learned that the CW superhero drama's fourth season will feature a backdoor pilot for a potential series centered on Jordan Calloway's Painkiller, a.k.a. Khalil Payne. The planned pilot — which will take Khalil out of Freeland — will air the seventh episode of season 4.
Khalil has been part of the Black Lightning world since the show's inaugural season. He was initially introduced as a successful athlete and love interest for Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning's daughter Jennifer Pierce (China Anne McClain); however, his athletic future was ruined by a stray bullet that left him paralyzed. Alas things got worse because series big bad Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III) turned him into one of his henchman after giving him a surgery that restored his ability to walk and gave him super-strength and poisonous blood. After falling out with Tobias, the ASA brainwashed Khalil and turned him into a killing machine (a.k.a. Painkiller) — that is until Jennifer and the rest of the Pierce family helped him break free of his programming.
Executive produced by Black Lightning creator Salil Akil, the prospective Painkiller series follows a guilt-ridden Khalil as he leaves everyone he loves behind in Freeland and moves to Akashic Valley in order to find peace. Unfortunately, "peace never comes easy for men with pasts like Khalil Payne and Painkiller," according to the official logline. "As his violent, destructive history crashes his idyllic new beginning, Khalil is thrusted back into action with a new mission - bring justice where he once gave out punishment – but to do that, he will first have to deal with and harness his darker side, Painkiller."
The Painkiller pilot arrives as the Arrowverse, a.k.a. CWVerse (remember Black Lightning is now in the Arrowverse following "Crisis on Infinite Earths") begins to enter a new era following Arrow's conclusion in January and the recently-announced final season of Supergirl. Hopefully, Painkiller will join Superman & Lois, which takes off in January, as the future of the network's DC superhero universe.
Black Lightning returns Monday, Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. on The CW.