We promised we’d be back with more after that two-part article on the relevance of Black Lightning. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re going to give a focus on the main female characters of the show.
Holdt: Yeah and it’s a good thing too because we have a lot of ground to cover since the pilot. Lady Eve alone could fill an article, but we don’t have time for all that!
So let’s get down to basics, and fair warning – there will be some spoilers!
Holdt: I’d like to start with my girl Anissa, who’s unquestionably a fighter for civil rights – for both metas and normies – and she’s proud of her principles. She’s willing to adapt as well, which we get to see in her change of heart over vigilantism, citizen’s responsibilities and community solidarity.
Brook: Anissa is probably the most relatable to a lot of viewers; she’s the Millennial adult, faced with the problems of the 21st century and ready to take them on. She’s a staunch activist working to better the future for everyone.
Holdt: She looks outward at the community instead of inward, actively working to correct the inequalities she sees. The move from concerned citizen to superhero is a natural one for her; she was already fighting for what’s right, now she just has superpowers.
Brook: I also appreciate her representation of intersectionality. She’s a gay, African-American woman, and all of these factors about her identity just sort of exist – they’re not overemphasized, but they’re not ignored either.
Holdt: Okay, now let’s talk Jennifer; ahead of the class in everything except personal freedoms, she seems always to be fighting to assert her agency. She is lost in the struggles of those around her while her crisis of identity goes mostly ignored.
Brook: Jennifer deals with the hassles of high school, the predatory cruising and negging by men, and the accusations of being “too white” that comes with popularity. She’s trying to find her path in a world of peer pressures and outright antagonism, and now she has superpowers to boot.
Holdt: Right, and to be clear – Jennifer isn’t stupid; she’s arguably one of the most intelligent characters on the show, but she lacks in experience because of her youth. She’s a character with a lot of room to grow, giving us access to the reality of a teen in the 2010s.
Brook: Exactly – while she may want to believe the deceptions of her dad and sister, Jennifer knows they are hiding something from her. She’s optimistic but also perceptive, and she won’t be left out of the family secret for long.
Holdt: The other side of that scale is Lynn, who knows who she is and where she’s been. She’s a neuroscientist, a woman in a male-dominated field; brilliant, science positive, and logical, she can’t agree with superheroism because it breaks her model of how and what the world should be.
Brook: She dislikes vigilantism, not necessarily because she disagrees with the method but because she hates its toll on her family. Seeing Jefferson come home hurt every night, hiding the secrets from their children, it’s too much.
Holdt: As a mother, Lynn can’t accept the pain of losing their father to violence, especially when their family is so economically removed from those problems; she’s not in denial, she just knows what comes from ‘getting involved.’ Also, I’m not sure Lynn can identify with Jefferson and Anissa, both their powers as well as her level of privilege.
Brook: I love that she’s begun to come around, however, because of recent events. Both the threats on her family and the development of Anissa’s powers; her strong logic comes through in her decision to have them work together, even doing something she disagrees with, to make things safer for everyone.
Lady Eve & Tori
Holdt: Let’s wrap this up with a nod to two characters who were gone way too fast, starting with the “Lady of Otherness,” Lady Eve. I’d call her the quintessential hardass, the player behind the player, as fascinating and complex as anyone else; she was classy, powerful, ruthless and had it all together.
Brook: I was so mad when she was killed, as I loved her; she was vicious as hell and unapologetic about it, and I was hoping she’d be the “Big Bad” of the series. Even in her last moments, though, she didn’t panic and went down like a warrior.
Holdt: I have to take a moment to contrast her death with Tori’s. Tori was fridged, plain and simple, killed solely to progress Tobias’ story without any consideration for her character. I expected her to take control, with her brother as the figurehead and enforcer.
Brook: Her mere four episodes were not enough, given how fascinating and chill she was in comparison to Tobias’ rage and impatience. That whole episode was a bit of a disappointment, cutting short the stories of these two great women.
Holdt: Seriously, I felt there was so much history unspoken in Lady Eve and Tori; I guess that’s what fanfic is for, right? We could go on about this for at least another five pages, but this is a safe place to wrap things up.
Brook: We’ll save that for the future because this show keeps you thinking and talking after every episode. Thanks for joining me, Holdt, and until next time…
Holdt: Fandom is love!