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Recap / Black Lightning (2018) S1E1 "The Resurrection"

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"This was the night in the rain with thunder and lightning as a witness that Black Lightning was born again."
— Jennifer Pierce

It's been nine years since Jefferson Pierce last fought crime in the neighborhood called Freeland as the costumed superhero Black Lightning. He's become the acclaimed principal of Garfield High School, where he figures he can do more good than as his alter ego, and all he wants to do is raise his teenaged daughters Anissa and Jennifer in peace. However, Freeland is in turmoil; The 100 (the gang Jefferson originally battled) is stepping up its crimes, and the cops are ineffective at best and trigger-happy racists at worst. When his daughters repeatedly get caught up in the violence, Jefferson realizes that the only way he can protect the people he loves is to become Black Lightning once again.

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Tropes seen in this episode:

  • Action Girl: Anissa has some martial arts experience, enough to kick Will's butt when he gets in her face and insults her.
  • As Himself:
    • Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who introduces Jefferson at his testimonial dinner.
    • Journalist Roland Martin, who asks why Black Lightning is called a Vigilante Man while white supers are regarded as heroes.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Jefferson returns to being Black Lightning despite his own desire to stay away from heroics because The 100 target his daughters. Gambi believes that Jefferson was always going to return to being Black Lightning regardless of his wishes otherwise.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Will, who never stopped to consider that kidnapping the daughters of a beloved principal in broad daylight might have been a bad idea. True, he didn't know said principal was Black Lightning, but still...
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  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: When the news reports on the citizens protests against the 100, a desk cop complains that the department worked their butts off to help the "ungrateful" citizens. Of course considering the 100 have been responsible for 125 shootings in one weekend, it's easy to see why the average citizen feels like the police have failed them.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Tobias is under the impression he killed the "original" Black Lightning and assumes this is just someone else taking up the role.
  • Evil Is Petty: Will kidnapped Jefferson's daughters when Anissa beat him up for harassing Jennifer when she refused to listen to him.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lala acts polite when he speaks with Jefferson at first, and pretends to be a Pragmatic Villain who keeps the gangs out of the school, but this quickly crumbles when Jefferson interferes with his abuse of one of Jefferson's students and he pulls a gun on Jefferson.
  • Foreshadowing:
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    • We see a wanted poster for Tobias Whale before we finally meet him.
    • At the end of the episode, a stressed-out Anissa first manifests her super powers.
  • Godzilla Threshold: At first, Jefferson refuses to go back into costume, despite the atrocities of the 100. But as soon as the 100 kidnap his girls, he snaps into action.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: When assaulting the Seahorse Motel, Jefferson darkenes the goggles to hide his eyes from his daughters. As soon as they're gone, he switches them to be transparent again. It's not clear how he does that, possibly with a subtle gesture.
  • Groin Attack: Will gets a knee to the nuts from Jennifer when he tries selling her off to Lala to cover his debt.
  • Hollywood Healing: Played with. Although Jefferson is up and around very quickly after suffering a gunshot wound that Gambi stitches up and is back in action with no lingering effects, his raid against the 100's hotel and getting shot in the same spot by Will, even though the bullet was stopped, opens the wound again.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The incident described under Faux Affably Evil begins when Lala angrily berates one of the students for playing video games instead of paying attention to his schoolwork, ranting how that kind of behavior makes it easier for the white establishment to keep him down.
  • Mama Bear: Downplayed but Lynn is perfectly fine with Jefferson returning as Black Lightning, the very reason for their divorce, when her daughters are in danger.
  • Mook Horror Show: When Jefferson rescues Jennifer in Club 100, a Mook points a gun at him. Jefferson responds by turning off all the lights with his power. The goons begin to shoot wildly in the dark and get taken off one by one by bursts of lightning.
  • Papa Wolf: What causes Jefferson to return as Black Lightning? His daughters getting kidnapped.
  • Police Brutality:
    • Combined with racism. It starts relatively small, when Jefferson is detained just because a liquor store was robbed by a black man and the cops are apparently pulling over every random black man on the road. Later, after his harrowing rescue of his daughters from Club 100, two cops point guns at him and tell him to "get [his] black ass down!" Understandably fed up, he zaps both the cops and their car.
    • Played with in regards to their mentioned arrests of people who were protesting The 100, as the gang showed up to the protest and violence broke out.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Black Lightning delivers one to Will complaining that he didn't get the chance to deliver one to Will before Will shot him.
    Black Lightning: You should give a brother a moment to say something heroically clever. Now you just pissed me off.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Lala, who runs The 100 on behalf of Tobias Whale, was once one of Jefferson's students.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Jefferson is detained by two cops when trying to exit Club 100 — they don't ask anybody to stop just him. He complies but he's told to "get [his] black ass on the ground" and they taser him. Still fuming over being humiliated earlier, he loses it and uses his powers to hit back.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: Jefferson goes to rescue Jennifer and Anissa, and anyone foolish enough to get in his way gets demolished.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: Jefferson implies this was one of his reasons for retiring, revealing that he first became Black Lightning to kill Tobias Whale as revenge for killing his father but eventually moved on to fighting whatever criminals he could find. It just didn't end.
  • Secret Identity Vocal Shift: When rescuing his daughters, Jefferson lets his voice carry an echo to it with an electric buzz to cover himself.
  • Shooting Superman: Two racist cops try to taser Jefferson. It works as well as expected.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • A brutal example. During the You Have Failed Me scene below, Tobias Whale tortures Lala by puncturing his chest and pulling him forward towards his desk — just like a whale being harpooned.
    • After his confrontation with the cops for being pulled over and profiled out of hand as the guy who had robbed a liquor store earlier (implicitly on the sole criterion of him being a black man), with his two daughters in the car, Jennifer's voiceover says, "This was the night, in the rain, with thunder and lightning as witness, that Black Lightning was born again."
  • Title Drop: Done courtesy of Tobias Whale when he notes that Black Lightning has apparently been resurrected. However, he incorrectly believes that he killed the original Black Lightning and another man has taken up the role.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Tobias punishes two of his associates for disappointing him; Lala apparently survives, but a guy who gets thrown in a tank full of piranhas isn't so lucky.
    • Lala also beats up his cousin/underling Will for kidnapping the Pierce sisters from Garfield High, even after he'd been warned against doing just that.
  • You Killed My Father: Tobias did this to Jefferson's father, an Intrepid Reporter, which is why Jefferson became Black Lightning in the first place.

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