Black Lightning: Lawanda: The Book of Hope
January 23, 2018 7:44 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

As the community struggles with the violence surrounding them, a glimmer of hope appears: Is Black Lightning back? While Jefferson Pierce struggles with his decision, Gambi urges him to take up the mantle once more, while Lynn urges the opposite. Anissa and Jennifer try to deal with the aftermath of their jolting experience.
posted by oh yeah! (19 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am really enjoying the show. I'm glad that it is currently in its own universe.
posted by heathrowga at 7:49 AM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don’t know how much of this is a result of them skipping the usual origin story beginning, but I really like the way watching the show feels like I’ve jumped in mid-season. None of the exposition dumps that would normally bog down a superhero show (How did Jefferson get his powers? How did Gambi become his Edna Mode/Alfred? etc), just forward motion. I mean, I guess we’re getting Anissa’s origin story, but, even there the focus isn’t on the technobabble or the why/how, but on her reaction to it, and the dramatic tension is on when she and her father are going to find out about each other’s powers. (Which, I am so impatient to see!)
posted by oh yeah! at 7:53 AM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm loving this show too. And I love how it faces issues with the poor black communities as realistic as possible. When Lawanda was like "everybody keeps praying for us, but who's gonna fight for us?", that hit me right in the feels. I've heard so many of those sentiments from poor neighborhoods in my city, from all races, and they may not have been talking about superheroes, but they sure could use one.
posted by numaner at 8:20 AM on January 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


This has such a Marvel feel. I feel like I'm watching Spider-Man in a good way. Human-level issues versus god-like powers. And his powers are both campy/fun and genuinely cool. I wish the kicks sparked, too, not just the punches. Very comic book feel, also in a good way.
posted by zeek321 at 7:40 PM on January 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


So far, I really love the specificity of everything: the specificity of experience, of character, of setting. There's basically not a single generic thing about it, apart from maybe some of the more campy superhero things. I also like the balance of family/character stuff with superhero business.
posted by yasaman at 8:24 PM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


I know down the line Lynn will probably come back to him, because this is still a CW superhero show. But I'm loving her stance right now with the whole "I can't compromise my values to support you". Like she's there for the girls, and that's it.
posted by numaner at 11:49 PM on January 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


slight derail, but Rhea Butcher (whose show with her wife, Carmen Esposito, was canceled due to their online channel, Seeso, shutting down) wondered on Twitter the other day if there were any lesbians actually playing lesbians on professionally produced shows anymore, and I honestly couldn't think of any. After this episode I looked up the actresses that are playing Anessa and Chenoa and they don't outright state their sexuality, which usually means they are straight. I was hoping for different but that's Hollywood right now I guess. Of course there are actresses out there who are not open about it, and I hope they can be some day.
posted by numaner at 12:04 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


uhh i didn't mean for that derail to be as long as it was but heeeey how come when he lightning punches people they don't immediately get shocked and go down? like that's gotta be almost like getting hit with low voltage tasers right? at least you're not gonna keep swinging
posted by numaner at 12:06 AM on January 25, 2018


slight derail, but Rhea Butcher (whose show with her wife, Carmen Esposito, was canceled due to their online channel, Seeso, shutting down) wondered on Twitter the other day if there were any lesbians actually playing lesbians on professionally produced shows anymore, and I honestly couldn't think of any. After this episode I looked up the actresses that are playing Anessa and Chenoa and they don't outright state their sexuality, which usually means they are straight. I was hoping for different but that's Hollywood right now I guess. Of course there are actresses out there who are not open about it, and I hope they can be some day.

Orange is the New Black?
posted by fuse theorem at 7:00 AM on January 25, 2018


I haven't watched much of the show to really tell, but I thought the main character was bi?
posted by numaner at 8:03 AM on January 25, 2018


upon some research, i came across this article (which actually have kind of a terrible layout) pointing out that only Lea Delaria is a lesbian in the cast. And while Samira Wiley is no longer on that show, she's on Handmaid's Tale, but her fate for 2nd season is... grim. And of course Master of None probably won't get renewed because of Ansari.

the Rhea Butcher thread is here, with Lena Waithe chiming in to note that she's so close to getting a show up that satisfies.
posted by numaner at 8:38 AM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


But...for years and years we were dismayed that famous straight actors wouldn't take roles as sympathetic or "good person" queer characters, and if they did it was considered SO FUCKING BRAVE, because it was such an enormous risk to their careers. And that felt shitty.

(Incidentally, I think that the woman on Brooklyn Nine Nine whose character just came out as bi is played by a bi actress.)
posted by desuetude at 12:26 PM on January 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I remember those years. But we're past that point of progress! Onwards and upwards!

Oh I didn't know she is bi IRL. Great!
posted by numaner at 9:52 PM on January 26, 2018


Have they made it clear whether or not his girls know he's Black Lightning? Didn't Jennifer see her dad in action at the club the first night she got in trouble? When she was talking to her boyfriend on the roof, I couldn't tell if she was telling him her real experience ("I couldn't look at his face") or making an excuse for not describing him in more detail.

And wasn't there a flashback scene of one of the girls seeing him all beat-up and bleeding in the bathroom--presumably the night he promised his wife he would quit? And did Lynn leave him because he later broke that promise? Or was had she already decided to leave regardless of what promises he made? That part hasn't been clear yet, either.
posted by straight at 11:57 PM on January 26, 2018


I think it's pretty clear that the girls don't know - if Anissa knew, why wouldn't she have told Jefferson about the sink incident immediately? And would Jennifer have been as terrified as she was in the hotel when Lala was telling Will to kill her? Given her characterization so far, I feel like she wouldn't have been able to stop herself from telling the 100 guys to let them go before Black Lightning came to kick their asses.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:08 AM on January 27, 2018


Yeah I think that thing about it being difficult to look at his face was meant to cover a number of things. A preemptive shot across the bow at those goggles aren't enough to be an effective disguise as well as establishing that the girls don't know their dad is BL.

I think one of them - presumably Anissa? - may have seen dad bloodied and in the tub but why would you assume that makes him the (apparently) lone superhero in the world? Him getting drunk and into fights would certainly be more a "when you hear hoofprints think horses not zebras" sort of assumption. Not to mention, if you're a kid trying to understand why your parents would split you probably wouldn't go to "because Dad's got super-powers." That's a reason he's AWESOME if you're a kid (and maybe if you're an adult *cough*).
posted by phearlez at 7:54 AM on January 29, 2018


I'm a little on the fence on this show still. It's just so earnest and I'm not sure I'm allowed to feel at least a little irony in it because we've had so few depictions like this of African Americans in TV. So I'll shut up and watch it without critical distance. And it's fun that way.

I'm fascinated by the racial coding for Tobias Whale, the villain. He's of African heritage but has albinism. (As does the actor, Krondon). So he's Black but he's white skinned and red haired. There's a lot of cultural baggage attached to that unusual type. "Albino = evil" is a particularly pernicious and ugly stereotype. They seem to fine exploring that stuff in the show, particularly the speech early on in the villain lair
Squeeze these darkies until they crack.
Damn, boss. You really do hate black people.
No, I love black people.
I hate incompetent, thick-lipped, scratch-where-it-don't itch Negroes like you.
Y'all keep us acting like newly-freed slaves
That's some pretty intense racial stuff for a comic book villain. In the books he's also enormous (400+ pounds), something I guess they're not going with in the TV show.
posted by Nelson at 8:54 AM on February 2, 2018


Tobias and Kingpin have been brought into the Atkins age.
posted by phearlez at 12:40 PM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


oh yeah!: I don’t know how much of this is a result of them skipping the usual origin story beginning, but I really like the way watching the show feels like I’ve jumped in mid-season

Reflecting on this, I think it feels more like the show is starting back up after being on hiatus for a few years, or there was a major finale last season where Black Lightning hung up his suit, and now they're jumping ahead with the show rebooted. I think that a mid-season drop-landing would feel more like a story by James Tiptree, Jr. (nom de plume of Alice Bradley Sheldon), who said her writing trick was to "start from the end and preferably 5,000 feet underground on a dark day and then don't tell them."

There's definitely backstory that will be filled in through future episodes and exchanges, but I agree that this is a good way to run the story - avoid the origin story, or even lengthy flash backs, and let those pieces get slipped into the episodes as they make sense, to let the viewer patch together the back story themselves.

Random comment on the episode: while Anissa's girlfriend says she's corny, it seems she comes by it naturally. While "You so fine, you bring sight to the blind, girl" is definitely a corny line, her mom's line of "As a neuroscientist, I know everything there is to know about the brain, but not so much about the heart" was also bad, but in a different way. It just sounds so fake.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:03 AM on February 5, 2018


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