Black Lightning's climactic Season 1 finale gave us the huge confrontation we've been waiting for between the A.S.A. (kind of) and the Pierce family!
First though, Jefferson (Cress Williams) had to shake off that killer punch Khalil (Jordan Calloway) gave him last week, which was no easy business. Struggling for your life has one upside though — family reunions with lost loved ones on the other side. Inside his comatose state, Jefferson finally got to speak to his father, who absolved him of any blame in his death and gave Jefferson the push he needed to live.
TV Guide spoke to showrunner Salim Akil about that touching father-son moment, the big revelation about Jennifer's (China Anne McClain) powers, and what's on tap for Season 2!
Let's talk about that beautiful scene between Jefferson and his dad. How therapeutic was it for him to get to see and talk to his father after losing him so tragically?
Akil: Very therapeutic. One of the things that we wanted to do with that scene is often times, you don't get the opportunity to — so many young black men and brown men lose their fathers in some shape, form, or fashion early on in their lives. Be it because they broke up with the mom and left the house, or they were murdered, or they go to jail. We lose our fathers very early on, it seems. Quite a few of us. Not all, but I thought it was just a great opportunity for Jefferson and other men to see a father say, "I'm proud of you." A father say, "I love you," to touch his hands and be affectionate in a fatherly way.
It was interesting, when we were shooting that scene, just about every time they did the scene I teared up, and there were other people tearing up, and so it was really not only therapeutic for Jefferson, but probably just as therapeutic for me. I'm just happy that I was able to do it and put it in the cut.
Gambi (James Remar) and Jefferson also came to a kind of truce, but is that relationship really mended? Does it need more mending?
Akil: It definitely needs more mending. That's a very complicated relationship... They really didn't and don't have time in the context of the show and the stories that we were telling to sort of really settle in on that conversation and see where they are. They tried, and they're gonna continue to try, but when you have a father figure like Gambi, but you realize that part of his actions were the reason that your biological father is dead, then that's a big hump to get over. Not to mention being involved in the A.S.A. experiment. So, there will be some mending. I never like to do storytelling where everything is just copacetic right after that episode.
Jennifer sort of had a moment there, where she realized she could use her power to help her father recharge so to speak. Did that change her perception of her powers and how she feels about them?
Akil: You know, honestly I don't know if it sort of changed her perspective. I know that in times of great stress and emotion, we do things. In this regard, she did something positive. You know, she helped her father regain his power. But how that affects her, and all the violence that she's seen as a young teen already, how does that affect her? We really have to make sure that we illuminate that in a way that feels real, and not just move right past it. So the idea of her using her powers is that she did it in the context of stress and in the context of battling with her family. But what that means after the smoke is cleared, we'll have to sort of dive into that.
Her powers seem very tied to her emotions. Is that volatility going to play a part in her Season 2 storyline?
Akil: For sure, for sure. You know, she's a teen. It's not so much the powers as it is being a teen. They're always volatile in some shape, form or fashion. So we want to explore really in a grounded way what it means to be a teen and have these gifts, or this burden, depending on how you look at it. That's what we want to explore.
We didn't get a ton of development on Khalil this year, but I can't wait to see more of him. Can you tease at all where you guys want to take that character and his relationship with Jennifer next year?
Akil: Yeah, we kinda want to maintain the relationship but we really have to figure out how, considering that he almost killed her father. So that's going to be a challenge. We're going to really have to put our thinking caps on for that one. We'll accomplish it, but we really have to figure out how we get there. You know, how do we get them back on that roof talking?
Is there a chance for redemption for Khalil?
Akil: I wouldn't count on it, but there's always a possibility. We're at the stage — the writer's room started yesterday, and we're at the stage now where we're really just marinating on all the things that we've seen and what we've done. And we really want to make sure that when we bring these characters back, that they're even better than they were in the first season. Thank God we set a high bar for ourselves, everybody seems to really enjoy the show. So, I think we have to come out in an even more exciting way.
I honestly think that when I look at the show, I don't really think Khalil is a bad guy, I think he's reacting to and trying to figure out who he is now that he has these legs and has these powers. He's sort of like Jennifer in a way. They're just all trying to figure out, what do I do with these things? And ultimately, they're the descendants of people who were experimented on, and they're the result of a government experiment. That's a lot to deal with as a young man.
Speaking of those powered people, we saw that they finally got freed at the end of the episode. How big a part will that storyline play in Season 2?
Akil: I don't know how big a part it will play, but we're definitely going to continue the storyline, and see where it takes us. But, for sure, we can't ignore it. You can't have what? 30 powered people? And then they all of sudden disappear after the last episode. So, definitely, we're gonna continue that storyline and see where it takes us.
We also learn in the finale that our big villain was not actually working for the A.S.A., he'd gone rogue. Will we see the actual A.S.A. incorporated into the show at some point?
Akil: We're thinking about it. We really are thinking about it. The thing about doing this type of — or any show, I would guess, but doing this type of show in particular, the way we rolled it out is that we can't ignore the things that we've already set up, because we've introduced the A.S.A., the pods, the painkiller, so we're not going to ignore those things. We just want to make sure that we do it in a way that's interesting and not repeating some of the stuff that we've already done.
Vice Principle Fowdy feels like a loose end. Is her involvement with Proctor (Gregg Henry) going to come back up again?
Akil: She is a part of that group of people who are involved in this experiment, and I think through her is how we'll find out more about the A.S.A. and any other of Proctor's sort of cohorts that he has left over after his death. He's left a power vacuum and so we have to sort of try to fill that power vacuum. But yeah, she's a bad guy — a bad girl. A bad woman.
Black Lightning will return for Season 2 on The CW.
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