Black television, when done right, is absolutely amazing. It’s entertaining, educational, and thought-provoking. The third season of Black Lightning continues to be a class on music, black thought, and the importance of family. There are a few bumps in the road, but it’s still an exciting ride.
Season three begins with a rocky start, as the Markovian threat is never identified until later in the show. It beings with the ASA having martial law over the town of Freeland. We know the Markovians are coming and have even raided ASA buildings. Still, we are never given a figure to attach to the threat. As each member of the Pierce family battles the ASA in their own way, we’re left putting the pieces together. Luckily, the show begins to bring things together by the season’s end, but there are still some loose ends.
It must be said that it’s downright criminal to limit Lala’s time on the show. One of the series better villains, Lala, has the potential to become the antihero if the series actually gave him some time to grow. And let’s not forget Tobias Whale, one of the best villains on tv. While this season has reduced his role, he makes his presence felt in every scene he’s in. What makes Tobias, so dope is that we all know someone like him. Hell, we might have even been him once. He is an intelligent black man who hates his own people. A man who warps the teachings of black leaders for his own ends.
But Black Lightning isn’t just a show about superpowers, it’s a class in black history. The soundtrack of Black Lighting has always been dope. A blend of the new and old school, where 808s transition smoothly into Nina Simone. Each song feels carefully selected and never out of place. There are moments, however, in trying to get a message across that the dialogue becomes cheesy. Debates about the ideals of King and Malcolm are always welcomed. However, some times they appear in the wrong moments.
In the first season of Black Lightning, Jefferson is the king of his household. While he deals with growing women, he is still able to make sure that the family follows ideologies, even when they don’t agree. But as the seasons’ progress, each of the daughters begins to find their own voice along with their powers. By the third season, Jefferson finds his philosophy at odds not only with his community, but his family as well. This is not the traditional “I’m the father, do as I say” power structure. The women of the Pierce household demand their voice and independence. In season 3, each member of the family finds their own way to deal with the idea of killing to get the job done. While some actually cross the line, others operate within a gray area. It’s the division and reconnection that makes the family worth watching.
There is one major event that happens during season three, and that’s Black Lightning’s appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths. A crossover event featuring other CW superheroes, Black Lighting’s involvement feels like an afterthought. In Crisis, we learn that there are multiple universes, and an entity known as the Anti-Monitor is destroying everything in hopes of building his own world. Various heroes from the Arrowverse(Green Arrow, The Flash, Superman, etc.) come together to defeat this threat. And then there’s Black Lightning. Our loving central figure is reduced to the token role in the group. We see him two to three times in a five-episode series. And in each of his appearances, he speaks one or two lines before it cuts to the next scene. Every one of his scenes could have been written without him. With the Anti-Monitor defeated, we witness the formation of the original Super Friends, and the creation of one Earth with all the superheroes now living on it. Black Lighting is currently a member of this crew, but with such a limited role, you have to wonder why he was pulled into the action in the first place. Notably, during a turning point in season three.