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Black Lightning: The Book of Reconstruction Chapter One: "Collateral Damage"

"In my notes, I've written something. Intimacy can be rewarding. And even deeper than before. But the honesty about what you're feeling, it has to be there. It has to be there first."

The first episode of Season Four of Black Lightning is more about internal battles than high-tech drug abuse and metahuman abilities – and it's no less of of a knockout fight for all that. As a season premiere, I think it's the best of the four. A lot of that has to do with how well-developed our characters have become.

It's like they've been cursed since Henderson's death.

Jefferson is a hot, sparking mess. He not only feels guilty, he's also grieving the loss of a foundational pillar in his life. Even worse, he feels unappreciated, and he and his other foundational pillar of support, Lynn, are on the outs. In the first season, we saw a Jefferson afraid to don the suit. Now, we see a Jefferson trapped by anger over the unfairness of the world – which may be why the memory of his father was triggered, in an early scene in the episode. His attack on the cops who were attacking the boy is almost an attempt to work this out. It soon becomes clear that the process of learning to work through this reaction is going to be a main theme of this season. I really feel for Jefferson; his rescue of the boy with the violin is almost a cathartic scene. I admit I've never seem that much rage from the character. Cress Williams in his acting style reminds me most of Avery Brooks from Deep Space Nine in the way he brings an almost theatrical performance to the Pierce character.

While Jefferson is out of costume, and fighting to keep his powers under control in his human guise, his daughters are – and forthrightly – going into the street to try and keep gang violence under control. It seems the temporary truce wrought by war dissolved quickly. It's beautiful watching the personal and physical connection between these sisters; Thunder and Lightning in full pitched battle are every bit as good to watch as a full-blown Avengers fight scene. Anissa's still struggling to deal with Grace in a coma – I thought Jennifer's directness with her was a powerful moment, even if, as Anissa noted, Jennifer was hardly a role model in the let them go area. Lynn at one point in the episode tonight says that the two need Black Lightning's mentorship in order to hone their endless energy; I think she's right – and that Lynn might not be a bad substitute herself.

Lynn is not only fighting with Jefferson, and working on her sobriety (as her therapist astutely asks) she is apparently still doing experiments with metahuman powers. Last season, Green Light was a big part of her research, so this begs the question whether Lynn's still honest about that sobriety. It was telling, however, that Lynn's way of testing her metahuman powers wasn't with an assistant in a lab – she does it on a street, fighting crime, just like her husband and daughters. And pretty well, too. Is she right that Jefferson should be back on the streets fighting as Black Lightning? Maybe; I have pretty strong faith in Jefferson's instincts, too.

This episode introduces three intriguingly ambiguous new characters: Chief Ana Lopez, Henderson's replacement, and Detective Hassan Shakur, Henderson's presumably-friend who isn't quite Black Lightning's friend yet. Lopez wants to monitor metahumans, and while that's not a new trope in TV world by any means, after the Markovian invasion I kinda see her point. While not actively evil, she's a huge threat to Jefferson's and his family's freedom. And while Jefferson has a letter from Henderson validating Shakur, it's by no means clear whose side Shakur is on – except that Shakur is an officer, and probably starting from an officer's standpoint of law and order. We also meet Elena – a former associate of Gambi's (with the emphasis on "associate" as I'm not so sure they're former anymore.) I get the sense she used to be in Black Ops with Gambi, and may represent more of a high-level government threat being set up.

On the opposite side of these ambiguous threats are Tobias Whale and Lala. Lala is sick of feeling powerless, despite having led a legion to save a city at the end of last seas. Whale has somehow managed to set himself up as a corporate-style investor looking to save local businesses – and has managed to invest in Lynn's work. With these four characters, the Davis family are going to have their hands full.

At the end of Season Three, this was a family proudly defiant and walking out of courtrooms convinced they'd beat the Big Bad. A few months later, they're semi-divided, each walking their own secret paths, and every one in peril from the fallout of last season.

In Sharp Relief

Absolutely gaga over the therapist on this episode and how she ignored certain things Lynn was saying and probed to the two main problems right away.

Did anyone else think Jefferson's hair looked the best in this pilot, too?

There's a great moment with Tobias Whale doing an interview for GBS News which is kind of a twofer. First, he looks like the devil back in power with that background of flames. Secondly, GBS News is a typical of subsidiary Galaxy Communications in DC Comics and is owned by Morgan Edge, who's appeared on Supergirl, so this is a bit of an easter egg.

Am I the only one who's kinda worried about Jennifer?


This episode did a great job of continuing the story from last year and also giving us completely new angles on the characters and setting up some conflict for the season. Five out of five Thunderclaps from Anissa Pierce.

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