Black Lightning had to do a lot to stand out. There are three superhero shows on the CW right now, with a fourth, Legends of Tomorrow, in the wings awaiting another season. Plus there’s Gotham, its forthcoming sister show Metropolis, the other forthcoming Superman prequel Krypton — and that’s just counting DC’s superhero shows. Throw in Marvel’s ambitious TV shows, and there’s a lot of heroes on the dial. And, yet, Black Lightning, with a fourth episode airing tomorrow (February 6th at 9pm ET on the CW) has, in surprisingly short time, made space for itself.
Black Lightning follows retired hero and high school principal Jefferson Pierce. The city of Freeland is in the middle of a political struggle as its citizens fight back against the city’s mistreatment of them — something brutally underscored in the first episode when Jefferson is dragged out of his car for no good reason — and a criminal one as Tobias Wale, the big bad, tries to solidify his hold on the city’s underworld. Jefferson, we sense, was forced into retirement by the fact he didn’t have any easy answers, and now, that lack of answers is forcing him right back into the mask.
The show is separate from the CW’s shared universe of DC shows, which quickly made sense as the show confronted racial issues right off the bat in a way other DC series have not. Mixing superheroes and real social problems is always tricky because superheroes are, in the end, power fantasies. Superheroes solve problems by punching them. And the most compelling aspect of the show has been Pierce’s conflicted take on coming out of retirement. He’s simply not sure if he’s doing any good. But he’s also sure what he’s doing is better than nothing, and that internal conflict makes it far more than just another superhero show.
This Week’s Geeky TV
Supergirl, Monday, Feb. 5th 8pm ET, The CW: The Worldkillers hide among us, the show has revealed, begging the question of what it was about Krypton that they built things like the Worldkillers in the first place.
The Flash, Tuesday, Feb. 6th, 8pm ET, The CW: Finally we get the answer to why the Flash doesn’t just escape.
Riverdale, Wednesday, Feb. 7th, 8pm ET, The CW: Betty’s mom was last seen cleaning up a stranger’s blood, so, uh, that might be a problem.
The X-Files, Thursday, Feb. 8th, 8pm ET, Fox: Skinner gets a rare episode all about him.
Arrow, Thursday, Feb. 8th, 9pm ET, The CW: Somebody has been using deepfakes to frame Ollie, which we guess is better than a forged sex tape.
Agents Of SHIELD, Friday, Feb. 9th, 9pm ET, ABC: The team escapes the future, which you’d think would be good news, but ha, no way they get a break.
Star Trek: Discovery, Sunday, Feb. 4th, 8:30pm ET, CBS All Access, Season Finale: One of the stronger first seasons for a Trek show wraps up with, well, really Burnham suffering no matter what. We’re not going to be entirely surprised if Ted Danson steps out and reveals this has been the Bad Place all along at this rate.