As Black Lightning‘s third season kicks off, the city Black Lightning protects is in a dark place. When we left off, the Pierce family had just found out that not only does the A.S.A. agent Odell know about their double lives as vigilante superheroes, but that the Markovian army has set its sights on the city of Freeland. The third season picks up a few months later, and thinks are getting rough – and political.
“The Book of Occupation: Chapter One: Birth of the Blackbird”
Thanks to the A.S.A.’s experiments with the Greenlight drug and the resulting wave of metahumans created from those experiments, the Markovian army has targeted Freeland. The army wants the metahuman members of the city for its army.
As a result, Freeland is on total lockdown. The A.S.A. is detaining people suspected of being metahumans and locking them up in cages. Even Black Lightning himself, Jefferson Pierce, is in a holding cell in between interview sessions with an incessantly-questioning artificial intelligence.
The rest of the Pierce family is out free, but everyone is feeling the crunch of detainment. As the A.S.A. puts Freeland under curfew, young Jennifer finds herself isolated and frustrated. Her powers are growing and she needs a release valve, or she risks exploding like a pressure cooker. Anissa, unable to act as Thunder, dresses in all-black and wears a voice-changing mask. She works to disrupt the A.S.A. as Blackbird. Gambi is skulking around in the woods at night wearing a light-up jeweler’s loupe to try to spot a weakness in the forcefield the organization has put in place over the entire town.
A solid setup
This setup puts us in a good spot for the rest of the season, though it does raise some questions, too.
I’m eager to see where the Pierce family goes from here. I have a feeling this season is Jennifer’s coming-out, where she finally gets a grasp on her powers and is able to step out as a superhero of her own. Jefferson is in a weird place. He’s traditionally been comparatively privileged as both a principal and a teacher, and husband to a highly-skilled scientist. For the last few months, he’s been couped up in a holding cell and has a life to reclaim. Lynn, meanwhile, is very valuable to both Markova and to the A.S.A., putting her in danger and in flux. Anissa I’m less sure of; she’s fighting the good fight on the streets of Freeland, but her main quest right now seems to be to track down her ex-girlfriend.
I can’t help but wonder, though, if Markovia is even a real thing. The way the show has framed them, they’re always a looming threat. We’ve really only seen their forces once, and it was a small force. To be clear, Markovia as a nation is a real thing in the DC universe, and I have no doubt that across the ocean from Freeland, there’s a nation called Markovia.
What I mean is that I can’t help but wonder if the A.S.A. is using Markovia as an excuse to control Freeland; that Markovia is not a true threat. Meanwhile, where are the FBI and the army?
The other thing I wonder about is the line the show is taking. It feels a lot like Supergirl‘s 4th season. Admittedly, I do think that Black Lightning is better-equipped to handle questions about discrimination and detainment than Supergirl; the Pierce family offers an organic way to introduce these concepts without the show ever feeling preachy. I hope the show is able to differentiate itself enough from Supergirl‘s take on the idea.
Like I said: I think we’re in a good spot. The Pierce family has a lot to do. There’s growing, escaping, and recovering. There’s a war outside their front door, and they’re better-equipped to fight it than anyone else. I’m excited to see where it goes. And that’s not even getting started on how Black Lightning will be incorporated into the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover.