BGN recently had the pleasure of visiting the set of Black Lightning as season two was being taped. We were given the opportunity to speak with the cast, crew, and showrunner about all that is in store for this forthcoming season. From the very beginning, it was evident that the showrunner and executive producer, Salim Akil (Being Mary Jane, The Game, Jumping the Broom) is committed to valuing what his actors and team authentically bring to the table. BGN got to hear and see it all on our set visit in the weeks prior to the premiere.
A Show about Real Values
These values include transparency, presenting characters that are multi-dimensional, and showcasing the power of co-parenting after a separation. However, they also consist of showing positive images of Blackness across the spectrum of the Black identity as well as providing strong narratives that are not just appealing to black audiences, but to viewers of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
These are many of the ideas that are important to the entire Black Lightning team. While many of the lead actors in Black Lightning are Black, the main focus is on the family dynamic, positive role models and the power of mentorship. The theme of embracing your talents and gifts for the greater good of protecting your community and humanity is also prominent.
In season two of Black Lightning, viewers can expect for the focus to remain on family, but with heightened conflicts within the family dynamic. Additionally, in this new season, prepare for a faster pace/tone and for more complex and uncomfortable conflicts within the narratives. Embracing uncomfortable narratives and perceived differences was a common thread throughout many of the roundtables and conversations amongst the cast.
Get Ready to Get Uncomfortable
Showrunner Akil made it evident that his intentions are clear about the storylines in Black Lightning. While he has his own personal viewpoints and perspectives, he believes without a doubt that uncomfortable conversations are the breeding ground for growth. By focusing on family and humanity, Akil makes it clear that we are all in this human experience together.
But, he does not shy away from culture-specific idioms and norms. For example, viewers will see hair getting braided this season. They will see Lynn Pierce (Christine Adams) with her beautiful, short natural hair. Real women looking naturally beautiful and all of this is a deliberate choice will take over the conversation.
These seemingly minute details are very important and make for better entertainment as well. Akil states, “it is important to expose folks to different cultures. It’s incumbent upon all of us to start educating each other before we start yelling at each other. I think that hopefully, that is what will happen, especially this season.”
True, Black, Family Values
Season two will continue to show viewers that Black Lightning is very much a family drama about a family that happens to have superpowers. We will continue to see the benefits of what happens when two mature parents decide to peaceably co-parent. Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) and Lynn Pierce (Christine Adams) will continue to navigate the complex terrain of parenting a teenager (China Anne McClain) and young adult woman (Nafessa Williams) who both happen to be empowered and uniquely gifted in their own right. We will continue to see two beautiful, Black parents who still love each other, come together despite their difference of opinions.
Akil stated, “because in many African-American communities couples are not together, but have children, I wanted to show that you could co-parent in a loving way. That you didn’t have to be at each other’s throat, yelling and screaming all the time…in this regard, what they [Lynn and Jefferson] recognize is important, are their daughters…They don’t always agree and I like that. I like that they can go at it, but then she comes home and they’re laughing. And we often don’t get a chance to see Black bodies doing that. Oftentimes on television, Black bodies are at conflict. We don’t always necessarily get the chance to see them loving each other or touching, and smiling at each other.”
The Pierce Women this Season
As a mom and medical researcher, Lynn Pierce will not just sit on the sidelines and observe. Prepare to see her take her rightful place alongside Jefferson and her two daughters. She too is a formidable force to be reckoned with.
We will see Anissa flourish and embrace her super-abilities, and Jennifer grapples with her superhuman traits. Anissa Pierce’s “Thunder” has the power to manipulate her body’s density.
Jennifer’s superhuman traits have the possibility of being the most powerful of all, though we are not sure of how she will handle this in season two. The team could not share much about whether or not, Jennifer would suit up in this season. Akil simply asserted, “it had to be done right.” Not just the timing in the script for Jennifer to gain her suit, but that the actual suit itself has to be designed right, have the right look and be a perfect fit altogether.
The Superhero and the Spy
Season two will delve deeper into the relationship between Jefferson Pierce (Williams) and Peter Gambi (James Remar), and the importance of mentorship. One could ask the question, “why is an intelligent Black man and scholar with superhuman abilities being mentored by an old, White spy?” But good mentorship, unwavering support, and genius insight are invaluable assets. They have more to do with elevating humanity for the greater good, than the difference in a person’s personal appearance. We get to explore this notion further with the relationship between the two men.
Jefferson’s relationship with Gambi personifies the idea that without a proper support system it’s hard to succeed, especially when you have unusual gifts. Their relationship is a beautiful metaphor. It espouses the need for mentorship when reaching to accomplish a goal or shifting mindsets, especially in disenfranchised communities. Jefferson Pierce would not be the powerful force that he is within the community of Freeland, without the support of Gambi.
Unmasking Black Lightning
Chief Henderson (Damon Gupton), may make some unique discoveries about Black Lightning this season. But, given his penchant for cleaning up the mess that Black Lightning often leaves behind, I’m sure that he will be more than equipped for the task. Again, we will get to see two, positive Black men interface on the screen attempting to work together for the sake of the community. In season two, expect to see the relationship between Jefferson and Chief Henderson shift as a more complex narrative starts to spring forth.
Expect More Complexity, Nuance, and Detail
Season two of Black Lightning will bring us more complex storylines, more nuanced characters, and detailed relationships. We will see some of the consequences of what happens when superhuman powers get into the wrong hands. Viewers will witness the compromises that people often make as a result of pain or even bitterness. We will witness what happens when people make the wrong, and even the right alliances. Jefferson Pierce will continue to combat dark forces within the community, but not without the help of those closest to him.
Stay tuned, as season two will bring many unexpected plots and narratives to the screen. All of this will definitely get conversations started about humanity, community and how we can all affect change as human beings on this life journey.
Season two of Black Lightning airs at 9 PM EST on the CW.