On the 8th of February, Black Lightning‘s fourth and, unfortunately, the final season premiered on The CW. The superhero series is the only series on the network that flaunted a predominantly African-American cast and was never veering away from tackling societal and real-world issues.
— DC (@DCComics) February 13, 2021
The end of season 3 back in January 2020 looked as if it predicted the future of the real world. What was supposed to only exist in the fictional world became true––and that’s a fear no one admits to. The third season ended with Freeland shutting down because of the government military organization, protests, state-driven curfews, and police violence against Black citizens. Isn’t it eerily familiar? These activities eventually put ASA, the armed militia, and the Markovians on the map as they face the turmoil of being caught in the crossfire.
The fourth season, however, starts oppositely. One year after the happenings of The Book of Occupationstoryline, Freeland looks as if it’s already back to its normal state. During The Book of Reconstruction, we saw a formidable change in Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) and his wounds caused by Gravedigger (Wayne Brady) during the season finale. However, that doesn’t mean the stress and trauma are already gone especially after the loss of his best friend, Inspector Henderson (Damon Gupton), alongside the fact that the Pierce family has red written on their ledgers just to survive.
This is the storyline showrunner and director Salim Akil bestowed us with for the fourth season, saying:
“Since we had dealt with a lot of political issues and wrapped that up last season. I wanted to get back to family issues,” Akil told SYFY WIRE.
“The Pierces have gone through so much over the first three seasons. Now they’re able to sort of reflect on what they’ve been through. We’re going to deal with the trauma of what going through that does to you,” he continued.
Jefferson is clearly not the same man after the incidents. In fact, he avoided both the Black Lightning name and suit but was still using his electrical powers to take down abusive cops––all the while not wearing the mask. Life at home isn’t easy for Jeff either as he can’t be there for his family––especially his wife. Grounded to reality, the superhero series that also features a rare storyline by the likes of an African-American family, the Pierce family all attend therapy.
“Not all Black people live in neighborhoods with a lot of violence in them, but far too many do,” Akil says. “What I wanted to show was the idea of how to heal. That was why I put Lynn and Jefferson in therapy.”
So as to resolve the underlying problems of society, the Pierce girls, Anissa (Nessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain), named ‘Thunder’ and ‘Lightning,’ respectively, make their own efforts to wipe out the streets of Freeland from the 100 gang who are back to their usual evil-doing routines in Black Lightning’s absence. The thing is, seeing both girls in their roles as stand-in heroes is creditable––maybe even accounting for a Thunder and Lightning spinoff show from The CW. Their teamwork is just as good as one Black Lightning––and him being absent makes up for that fact.
However, after McClain’s announcement of a reduced role alongside cancellation reports, the optimism is looking bleak. According to Akil, though, fans will be seeing more of the Pierce sisters in action––especially during the Painkiller “backdoor pilot” that will are as Episode 7 in the most recent season.
“We’re shooting the Painkiller pilot now,” Akil stated. “We fully intend for it to be a spinoff. I know that if Painkiller gets picked up, you’ll probably see [the Pierce sisters] in there.”