Black Lightning S01E02 "Lawanda: The Book of Hope"

In the story of Moses, when he came down from Mount Sinai holding stone tablets, his face was radiant from the power of God. As a result, the people were unable and afraid to see his face. Jennifer's explanation for not recognizing Black Lightning seems to be a subtle reference to this story. Black Lightning had hints of religious imagery in the first episode and it carries through in the second.

In "Lawanda: The Book of Hope," we meet Lawanda, a former student who has been desperately trying to find her daughter. She challenges Jefferson on why Black Lightning saved his daughters from the 100 but not hers. Referred to as Black Jesus once again, Lawanda pushes Jefferson in the hopes that someone would do something. The police haven't helped, indicating a much larger problem of how the force isn't actually protecting the most vulnerable people. Honesty, the fact that they weren't able to catch Will after he jumped out of a moving ambulance and they weren't able to catch Malik after he shot Jennifer with a squirt gun filled with red indicates incompetence or a degree of indifference.

It's unsurprising that this show has a body count. All three deaths in this episode are significant to the immediate and further plot. Will's death was mainly shocking because he was murdered by his uncle. Lawanda's death was heartbreaking because at the end of the day, the system failed her. A mother was killed because she wanted to save her daughter.

This act of cruelty drives Jefferson to put the suit back on. We see the conflict Lynn feels between still loving Jefferson and not wanting him to return as Black Lightning. We also get more of that romantic chemistry and sexual tension in the conversations (and kisses!) Jefferson and Lynn have. Meanwhile Gambi has fully taken the role of the inquisitive sidekick, which is a great role reversal. It was delightful to watch him help Jefferson get Lala. In the scene between Lynn and Gambi they each seem to have an image of respect over barely restrained resentment for each other. In the end Gambi's final words rang true. It was Jefferson's choice on whether to be Black Lightning. He chose the blessing of being Black Lightning. Lynn chose to leave.

Romance wasn't only for the Pierce parents. We meet one of Jennifer's best friends Khalil and they sit together on her roof. In the aftermath of the kidnapping he seems to realize that life's too short to not express your feelings and asks her out. It was a cute scene with the joy that comes with a first kiss. After Jennifer and Kiesha share drinks while hidden away in school she brings the bottle with her to the gym, unapologetically drinking from it. Khalil is angry and upset but it's coming from a sincere place of concern for her. He comments on how he's doing everything to get out of Freeland and he wants her to get out with him. Jennifer admits the connection to her trauma—everything's different now. "You only live once" is an understandable philosophy when you almost died, but distracting yourself from trauma tends to go poorly.

Which brings us to Anissa, whom we see in bed with her girlfriend post-sex. There aren't even words for how happy that scene made me, a very realistic couple having a realistic conversation while casually half clothed. Anissa expresses her concern about the way she broke the sink but isn't fully dismissed. Instead Chenoa suggests therapy, which is refreshing to hear. The conflict between Anissa and Chenoa seems to be Anissa's fear of commitment. The fact that she hasn't met people in Chenoa's life and the fact that her parents can't remember Chenoa's name makes it seem, as Chenoa suggested, like she's using this relationship as a distraction. It's unfortunate because Chenoa clearly loves Anissa a lot. When Anissa's at a pharmacy trying to get sleep meds and a robber with a gun turns to her, the world starts to spin and she has trouble breathing as if she was having a panic attack. We get to see Anissa's super strength again when she grabs the would-be robber and throws him into a shelf. The proud look she gives to the cashier before leaving makes it clear that whatever happens next is going to be spectacular.

The episode closes with our final death: Tobias murdering Lala. Earlier in the episode Lala remarks that Tobias hates Black people which Tobias refutes in the way we hear white people insist they're not racist. The police, it turns out, are working with Tobias. He mocks Lala once more before closing a loose end. What he'll do when he realizes this Black Lightning isn't an impostor is anyone's guess.


Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 PM EST on The CW
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Beatrice Onyekachi's picture
on January 25, 2018

I'm a Black lesbian ask me how. I'm a student who spends more time creating fandom content than focusing on her studies. I'm very excited to be a part of Geeks OUT!